Finding a new and unique Vietnamese restaurant to try is always hard because everything tends to be the same everywhere you go. I mean you have your beef noodle soup, your salad roll, your grilled protein with broken rice dish…you know what I mean?
So when I heard about Hai Phong, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out!
The interior of the restaurant looked decent. It wasn’t modern or anything but it was spacious and comfortable.
What sets Hai Phong’s menu apart from other restaurants is their variety of appetizers, their hot pot offerings, unique soup broths and their steamed noodles.
The first thing we decided to try was the Vietnamese crepe. Unlike the French crepes, this was very thin and crispy. It was almost the texture of chips! This is because it’s made from rice flour instead of regular flour and they also added in coconut milk to make it creamy and fragrant.
The plate came with a side of green herbage and the crepe was filled with crunchy bean sprouts and shrimps. I wouldn’t get this again despite how it sounded interesting on the menu because I didn’t think it tasted especially amazing. Plus the inside of the crepe became gooey and mushy from the moisture of the bean sprouts. Yuck!
Next we decided to try the lotus root salad. This was one of the things I came here for. I’ve never had lotus root in this preparation before and it was really crunchy. The lotus root was shredded into strips and the texture reminded us almost of celery but less fibrous.
It was surrounded by shrimp, topped with lots of flavorless sliced meat and seasoned with a tangy vinaigrette. We didnt’ know that it would be topped with so many crushed peanuts so if you’re not a fan of them, make sure you order it without!
For our first entree, we decided to try the grilled lemon grass porkchop on broken rice. This is quite typical to get at Vietnamese restaurants so we just had to try such a “staple” dish. The pork was juicy and tender but my favorite part was the rice! It was cooked so perfectly that it had a bite to it and reminded me glutinous rice.
Then, we had to get a noodle soup so we went with the shrimp, fish and beef pho with banana blossoms and morning glory! Yes, morning glory and banana blossoms in pho! We just had to give it a go!
We all expected a big extravagant looking bowl of noodles to come to our table but this was what we got…so clearly it wasn’t as amazing as we imagined but with a few toppings, it looked much better
Anyways, the soup itself was very flavorful. It was unlike any pho broth I’ve had before. It was sweet and tangy almost as though it was a tamarind base. It was a darker broth but for some reason it didn’t taste like beef broth or anything of that sort. I’m not sure how to describe it but it definitely was unique and we would definitely get it again.
Last up was the steamed rice noodles with pork skewers. The pork was definitely put in a soy-based marinade but instead of being juicy, it was quite tough and dry. We had to use ample amounts of fish sauce to help give it some more moisture.
We’ve never seen anything like the rice noodles before. They were web-like sheets of rice noodles that were soft and fluffy in texture. I would definitely come back just for this! It was so amazing! Out of everything this and the lotus root salad are the must try dishes here!