In the United States, it’s still uncommon to associate Vietnamese cuisine with fine dining. Travel magazines and television shows love to praise the street food, and praiseworthy it is. But a strong high-end dining scene has now also developed in Vietnam. When the Michelin inspectors visit — they’ll release a guide to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in June 2023 — they would surely hand out a few stars. As one often finds in places with distinctive local cuisines, chefs in Vietnam often riff on traditional recipes to create something new.
We had the chance to review three fashionable restaurants in Hanoi, two with lengthy tasting menus. Each proved exciting and reasonably priced. Our two recommended hotels in the city, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and Capella Hanoi, also have fine restaurants.
Opened in December 2020, Gia is a short taxi ride from our recommended hotels, across the street from the Temple of Literature. Its cozy second-floor dining rooms combine Vietnamese, art deco and midcentury-modern elements to striking effect. Chef and restaurant co-founder Sam Tran worked for a decade at top restaurants in Melbourne, Australia, before returning home to open her own establishment. She dedicated it to the “rich heritage of Vietnamese cuisine” expressed through contemporary recipes, often including fermented ingredients.