Restaurant Gia in Hanoi: a good Michelin-starred restaurant that struggled to embark me on a laborious journey

Gia, in Hanoi, is a Michelin-starred restaurant offering creatively reinterpreted Vietnamese cuisine. It’s good, but creativity has its limits: the property had a hard time drawing me into its dining experience and almost lost me along the way.

Unlike Saigon, Hanoi has a plethora of gourmet restaurants, including three 1-star restaurants. After an in-depth study of the menus (and prices), Gia seemed to offer the most interesting promise.

You’ll find at the bottom of the page a summary of the articles about this vacation in Vietnam.

The concept of Gia

Gia is a restaurant that aims to reinvent Vietnamese cuisine using modern cooking techniques.

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The menu

The restaurant offers a single tasting menu.

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– Monkfish | Caviar

– Red Bissau shrimp | Seaweed

– Beef tartare | Betel leaves

– Aralia leaves | Guava leaves

– Marbled eel | Cassava

– Grape | Peach

– Squid | Crab roe

– Greasyback shrimp | Celtuce

– Quail | Salted egg

– Wagyu beef | Pineapple

– Rice | mushrooms

– Coconut

– Lotus | Longan

Does that sound long and copious to you? In fact, you’ll see that this is not the case at all, and that there are a few tricks up the sleeve that make this menu look richer than it is.

The setting

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Let’s just say it’s in a warm, modern Vietnamese style.

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The lighting is subdued but not too dark, and there’s a soft pop music background that’s not at all aggressive.

The meal

I’m welcomed and seated at my table on the second floor where the restaurant is located. I won’t understand what the downstairs room is for until the end of the meal.

I’m invited to sit at the “chef’s table”, a one-person table located close to the kitchen, from which it is separated only by a glass wall.

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A kind of virtual open kitchen.

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They start by bringing me a welcome drink of watermelon with ginger and chocolate.

Then they bring me a plate. It’s going to take me a while to figure out that these aren’t appetizers, but the first three courses on the menu (when I tell you the menu has a few tricks up its sleeve….). So in theory I’ve got Monkfish | Caviar, Red Bissau Shrimp | Seaweed and Beef Tartare | Betel Leaves

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The monkfish and caviar mixture will be rather plain and I won’t be able to feel either of them.
The tartare is fresh and very tasty, excellent. Surprising, because at first glance you wouldn’t think that’s what it is.

The shrimps are fresh and have a little taste.

It’s a bit of a disorienting start. You think of amuse bouche and at the end you realize that the first three dishes on the menu have just arrived, after having struggled to identify them.

A bit like losing your bearings at the beginning of a meal.

Aralia leaves | Guava leaves

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Good and fresh.

At this stage, everything is pretty and creative, but I haven’t seen anything that really surprised and excited me.

Marbled eel | Cassava

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The manioc-lemon sauce is a great success, and so much the better, because without it the fish is a little bland.

Grape | Peach

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In fact, it’s a palate cleanser. The ice cream kills the taste of the peach and the grape survives.

At this point I’d like to make an aside about wine, since I’ve chosen wine pairing. The wines are excellent and much more exciting than the food so far, and the sommelier really interesting and passionate.

Interestingly, the wines are served in vials so that one cannot identify them by reading the label. They are then poured into the glass, and it’s up to the customer to guess what he’s being served before the sommelier brings the bottle out for confirmation.

Squid | Crab roe

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You need to take a piece of squid and dip it in the crab roe sauce. Finally, a dish with personality: iodized, smoky, herbal, a little spicy.

A quick look at the kitchen…

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Greasy shrimp | Celtuce

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Very fine and balanced. Very surprising texture: a little soft with the flesh underneath, in a broth peppered with coriander. A little land-sea, spicy, a little smoky.

An excellent transition before starting on the meats.

Is this meal finally taking off?

Quail | Salted egg

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There’s bee honey. The sweetness and saltiness are perfectly balanced and the meat is perfectly cooked.

Wagyu beef | Pineapple

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Good, but I’ve had better quality wagyu before, but maybe the taste is spoiled between the pineapple sauce and the pumpkin puree.

Rice | mushrooms

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This is the chef’s signature dish. Rice, mushroom and sauce are to be mixed. It’s good and tasty, but the beef donbury I ate the day before at the JW Marriott Hanoi’s restaurant made me experience more than that.

At this stage I can confirm that the wine pairing was more impressive than the dishes.

I’m told that dessert is served in the ground-floor dining room, but that beforehand I’m invited to chat with the chef in the kitchen. No special treatment: she receives all customers for a few minutes at the end of the meal.

A polite but bizarre discussion lasting a few minutes, a strange moment when you don’t know what to do and don’t know what to expect. Should I make small talk with her, or slip away quickly and politely? Anyway, I chatted with the chef and she offered me a drink, but I didn’t really understand the sequence or the point.

Time to head for the ground floor for dessert. Weird.

I’m brought a fruit basket. I choose two and they make a sorbet to accompany my dessert.

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Well, I didn’t quite get the idea.

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And here comes dessert…after a very long wait.

Lotus | Longan

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Uh…but wasn’t there something with coconut before on the menu? And then I realized that coconut was the drink the chef offers in the kitchen when she welcomes us.

A dessert that will be very tasty and fresh.

They’ll bring me some mignardises to finish.

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A little dry, really not very good.

What’s next? The staff abandon me, nobody comes to ask me if I want a coffee or the bill. Someone behind a counter is completely uninterested in me.

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And I’m waiting and waiting. The service sequence since the end of the main courses is so bizarre that I wonder whether something must still be going on or not.

I finally call her over and ask for a coffee. Since they don’t make espresso, I’ll ask for the bill. I think I could have stayed there for hours if I hadn’t taken the initiative.

180 euros in the end, far too expensive for what it is.

The service

I’d like to make two distinctions here.

The service itself was excellent, the staff very good and the sommelier passionate and fantastic.

Then the service protocol…very strange. Between the first three courses arriving like amuse-bouches without anyone telling me what they were, the tour of the kitchen, the somewhat lunar dessert sequence where I didn’t understand what was going on and the end of the meal where I waited in vain for no one to come and see me….

In fact, I think the restaurant is trying to draw us into something, to tell us something through this protocol, which is as creative as the cuisine itself.

But I obviously didn’t get into the story and ended up feeling a bit lost.

Too much creativity kills creativity.

The atmosphere

Warm and calm without being sad.

Bottom line

A very interesting meal, but at this price I don’t agree because it was laborious.

It’s sometimes said of a soccer team that it didn’t “get into its game”, and well, I never got into this dinner. I experienced it as a spectator, even suffered it.

As for the dishes, although I recognize a certain creativity and they are good, even very good for some, I find that it took a long time to take off, that it quickly plateaued before finishing flatly.

Not really a disappointment, but I remain somewhat frustrated and, once again, I feel as if I’ve attended this meal rather than participated in it.

The articles about this vacation in Vietnam

#TypePost
1Travel diaryPreparing for vacations in Vietnam
2FlightParis-Stockholm – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
3LoungeSAS Gold lounge – Stockholm
4FlightStockholm-Oslo – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
5HotelRadisson Blu Airport Hotel – Oslo Gardermoen
6LoungeSAS Gold lounge international zone – Oslo
7FlightOslo-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
8LoungeTurkish Airlines Miles&Smile Lounge international zone – Istanbul
9FlightIstanbul-Saigon – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
10HotelRenaissance Riverside Hotel – Saigon
11RestaurantAnan – Saigon
12RestaurantHoa Tuc – Saigon
13Travel diarySaigon city tour
14LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus lounge (domestic) – Saigon
15LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (domestic) – Saigon
16FlightSaigon-Hanoi- Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A350)
17HotelJW Marriott Hotel – Hanoi
18RestaurantGia – Hanoi
19RestaurantTung Dining – Hanoi
20Travel diaryCity tour of Hanoi
21LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
22LoungeSong Hong Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
23FlightHanoi-Phu Quoc – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320Neo)
24HotelSheraton Long Beach Resort – Phu Quoc
25Hotel JW Marriott Emerald Bay – Phu Quoc
26LoungeHoa Sim Business lounge – Phu Quoc
27FlightPhu Quoc-Saigon – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320)
28LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (international zone) – Saigon
28FlightSaigon-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
30LoungeIGA Lounge (zone internationale) – Istanbul
31LoungeTurkish Airlines business lounge – Istanbul
31FlightIstanbul-Oslo – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
32HotelRadisson Blu Plaza Hotel – Oslo
33RestaurantKatla – Oslo
34Travel diaryCity tour of Oslo
35FlightOslo-Copenhagen – SAS – SAS Plus (A320)
36FlightCopenhagen-Paris – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
37Travel diaryDebriefing of my vacation in Vietnam

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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