Whitechapel has changed a lot in the past few years, which has its pros and cons for the locals living here. Every other week a new restaurant or cafe pops up. One of the most recent editions to Whitechapel High Street is Oi Hanoi, which claims to be an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with street food prices. The place seemed busy and the prices were reasonable so my husband and I decided to give it a go one night.
Flossy’s rating: ★
I can summarise our experience in a world: awful. The food is not authentic and the bill was not cheap enough to make up for the tragedy. However it was my own fault for not picking up on the early warning signs, which were clear enough.
Oi Hanoi is located right next to Burger King and has a really commercial looking shop front and logo design. When you look at this place it screams out “fast food chain” and not “authentic phở”. There seem to be no Asian staff running the place either but just a lot of young and incompetent students at the till, which unusually only accepts cash payments.
The menu on closer inspection is also dubious. A lot of the dishes are more generic Chinese than resembling Vietnamese cuisine like the Steamed Buns, Shanghai Pork Dumplings and Crispy Pork Belly with Pak Choi and brown rice. There is even a Japanese dish of Teriyaki Chicken!
The menu contains pictures. Below is their depiction of the summer roll, a Vietnamese classic, which looks like no summer roll I’ve ever consumed. Why oh why did I decide to order?
Despite this photo, my husband and I ordered the summer rolls with salmon as a starter, which shockingly came served in a sealed plastic container. At a price of £6 for two small rolls I expect, at the very least, they can be on some sort of plate. To their credit, the salmon sashimi inside was generous and fresh, however the rice paper was tough and chewy and the sauce was overly sweet.
It went downhill when we got our mains. I ordered the seafood sweet and sour phở. Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its phở, delicious soups that are very tasty and served with an abundance of chilli, coriander and bean sprouts. My soup tasted bland with its three cherry tomatoes and two rubbery prawns floating inside it.
My husband didn’t fare too much better with his pork belly dish, which was edible but nothing special. To top it all off, they served my prosecco with ice and it arrived after the food.
Oi Hanoi is yet another commercial affliction to our area that lacks class, character and originality. I compare it to the old gin palace they converted into a Pret-a-Manger on Bethnal Green Road. This place is designed for the many hipsters, wealthy students and City and Canary Wharf workers without taste who have moved in and taken over our area. If you are one of them, this place is for you. But if you want a real taste of Vietnam, you are better off going to one of the many more traditional restaurants located nearby on Kingsland Road, Dalston.