Chào Bạn - A New Favourite in Tay Ho
Vincent from Chào Bạn invited us this month, and we were lucky enough to try both the lunch set special and the bbq dinner special. Chào Bạn is known for their traditional and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, and as their name suggests (“Hello Friend”), they welcome each customer, new or old, with open arms, fantastic service, and many smiles.
What inspired you/what previous experiences led you to become a restaurant owner here in Hanoi?
From 10 years old, I would visit the French bistro of my father’s aunt and the place was always very busy. I watched the waiters, how they looked, how they worked, how they talked with customers.
When I was 15 years old, I started to work in a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris called Le Dan Bau in the Montmartre area (North Paris), and it’s where I started to serve customers from beginning to end. My first step in the restaurant industry. It was very nice and while I was there I learned the fundamentals and was able to grow my skill.
When I moved to Vietnam, I was only 20 years old. I had been accepted to work as a junior waiter in a famous French restaurant named La Verticale, owned by French Chef Didier Corlou. I learned while there what real restaurant organisation is, and how to serve customers in the most elegant and professional way possible. After 6 months, I opened a French creperie in Ho Chi Minh City (2011). After one year in Ho Chi Minh City, I came back to Hanoi in June 2012 and I became restaurant manager for the famous Vietnamese restaurant Madame Hien on Chan Cam Street near the Cathedral. Working with “Madame Hien” was where I really developed and honed my skills.
What makes Chào Bạn special?
The good vibes. The little cozy house with blue windows, french bistro chairs outside, cosy inside, relaxed decoration. Of course, the food makes Chào Bạn special, with our Chef Madam Pham Thi Thu Hang, former chef at Madame Hien. Also, the service team is friendly and professional.
What were your inspirations for, and what are you most proud of about Chào Bạn?
My inspiration came from the past 10 years, with my experience at Madame Hien, my family, my daughter, the beauty of life, the close people that I’ve lost along the way. All this gave me the power to open my own restaurant. I’m the proudest of the team and myself, what we have built together since the first day of operation. We are open every day, so it’s not always easy, but it’s all about organisation and consistency, and I know my team can deliver this.
What kind of crowd are you hoping to attract?
We would like our customer base to heavily feature members of the expat community, including Japanese and Korean people, and the younger Vietnamese generation of 18-25 years. Chào Bạn is definitely a restaurant that is open to all kinds of people, kids to grandparents, from all over the world. Chào Bạn means “Hello Friend”, and we really want any customer who comes to Chào Bạn to feel at home, part of the family, to be served in a friendly ambience.
Where do you get your ingredients from?
From the local Vietnamese market. We don’t use any imported products. We are proud to use local Vietnamese products, and also love supporting the community in this way.
What are the best restaurants you've eaten at around Hanoi, and the world?
Here in Hanoi, I will say Fabrik pub for consistent, quality French food, Kali for fresh and tasty Meditteranean food, right in front of the lake, and Bao Wow for the ambience and the quality of the bao.
As far as the rest of the world, I loved Tokyo Lima in Hong Kong for the ambience and the fusion between Peruvian and Japanese food.
What was the worst meal that you've had?
Fetal Duck Egg. Wouldn’t recommend it.
What do you cook yourself at home?
I often cook beef, or duck breast, or salmon with fresh salad and some wines or Champagne. I love it. I eat often at Chào Bạn to keep an eye on the taste and quality. I also enjoy a Pho in the morning or a healthy breakfast at home.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A plate of sashimi. Steak frites. A Paris-Brest or Tiramisu. Bun Cha. Pasta with carbonara sauce. It’s hard.
What is your favourite food item on the Chào Bạn menu? What do you recommend on the drink menu?
My favourite dish in our traditional section would be the sauteed duck with basil, and from our speciality menu, the stuffed squid. We have some delicious mocktails that are very unique!
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Chào Bạn is there to be and to become the best Vietnamese restaurant in Tay Ho, and then, who knows where we can go? We are open every day from 11 am to 10 pm, and lunch is available until 5 pm. Our happy hour runs from 4-6 pm, buy one get one free glass of wine.
We believe the ambience in the evening is even more relaxing than lunch, as the area quietens down, traffic stops moving, and the lanterns light up. Every evening, we do one special dish on the barbecue: grilled pork with Mac Mat leaves. The caramelized fish in the clay pot is so great, but the pork ribs are the best seller. The banana cake is awesome.
The thing is, the restaurant is special in general, with ambience, cuisine, vibes. The food is clean and tasty, the service is friendly and professional. Everything is well prepared and cooked by our Chef. Soon, we will launch our official menu with pictures, available around mid-April, and we will organise to have some acoustic music and similar events soon!
We hope to see you at Chào Bạn soon!