Hana Ho is the girl to know. She’s worked at some of the best Asian kitchens in India; her Vietnamese rolls wear summer dresses in the fall; and she shares her secret fish sauce recipe with anyone who bothers to call.
Hana Ho is the girl to know. And at Little Saigon, you can ask her for more.
Take your bowl up to her counter where she cooks and serves (and delivers if you live in the neighbourhood) out of a new garage-sized Vietnamese restaurant that can fit about ten diners; twelve if they go to spin class every morning. While she prepares our order, we learn that Chef Ho, originally from Vietnam, worked as Masterchef at Taj Palace Delhi’s Blue Ginger restaurant for six years and also visited India to participate in a Vietnamese food festival at Renaissance Mumbai, Powai, on the Marriott group’s invitation.
While Little Saigon’s shy interiors don’t hint at this decade-long experience, the food certainly does. For our first offering, fine rice paper sheets put their arms around plump, blushing shrimp on the summer roll platter; and crispy tofu spring rolls arrive prettily plated with sticky hoisin and fish sauce.
Hana Ho, originally from Vietnam, worked as Masterchef at Taj Palace Delhi’s Blue Ginger restaurant for six years. Hana Ho is the girl to know. And at Little Saigon, you can ask her for more.
Call Mî Maybe
Round deux though, is where we really get to see her chops: perfectly cooked pork served with a spunky cold noodle salad and demure vinegar sauce; and an off-the-menu chicken sticky rice, nutty and dense — it’s the kind of plus one that could get it past the hottest club’s bouncer. If your greet doesn’t need meat, the crispy pancakes capped with shredded vegetables (you should see the knife work on these!) feels like a healthier option. A veggie yellow curry, by contrast, is uninspiring.
While chef Ho makes us a glass of Cafe Sua Da, we forget our food notes and set out to scribble Hanoi recommendations and secret sauce recipes (see below). When we pull our noses out of our book, we see before us a milk coffee (made with suong sau leaf extract) containing warm and cold currents; and coconut ice cream that isn’t as fresh as our favourite version at Natural’s, both topped with mounds of grass jelly.
With our Saigon tour over, we’re ready to hit the road, with few complaints and an extra bowl of grass jelly “for being good”. Hauz Khas, did we forget to mention? Hana Ho is the girl to know.
Psst, here’s her fish sauce recipe: Mix 2 tbsps bottled fish sauce (use Thai brands sourced from chef's favourite INA market), 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp fresh chilli, 3 tbsps sugar, 1tsp salt, 1 cup vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 shredded carrot and 1/4 daikon.
Enjoy the dip end.
Getting there: E-16, Market Lane, Main Market, Hauz Khas, call 9599450879 or 8588004021, approximately Rs 1,000 for a meal for two.
Accessibility: On the ground floor, but seating is a few steps below.
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