FIRST IMPRESSIONS: It’s deep in the heart of Hanoi’s picturesque Old Quarter, but just get the hotel doorman to tell the cabbie the street (see Contact) and he’ll recognise it immediately. It’s actually a well-known food precinct, lined with small establishments with alfresco seating in their frontage.
First timers should watch out for a typical Hanoi-style villa (meaning it’s a skinny structure that’s several storeys), painted ochre. On the ground floor is the bar with oversized chairs, leading to a leafy patio where it’s perfect to take meals during the autumn months. Seating is for 20 on the ground level and 30 on the second.
THE FOOD: Le Bleu de Thuy is the culinary kingdom of Belgian-born Chef Fosto and an excellent laboratory to test his creativity. (Thuy is his wife’s name. They met on a plane to Saigon, exchanged numbers and the rest led to a strong personal and business partnership.)
The menu is sizeable but straightforward with a section for à la carte and another for barbecued items (available for dinner, but “if you are friendly, you might get them for lunch too” is the advice). I had the Crispy Half-Cooked Red Tuna Nori Rolls with Green Pawpaw Salad (US$6.75), Butternut Squash Soup, Goat Cheese Tortellini and Porchini Mushrooms and Grilled Red Snapper with Baby Pak Choy, Salmon and Ginger Dumplings Thai Broth (US$11.25), all presented nicely on white china, each a blend of flavours that never seemed to clash, but complement each other. The nori rolls crackled with each bite.
DRINKS: An international selection of wines as well as beer and soft drinks.
SERVICE: Friendly and helpful. Chef Fosto is usually around for a chat.
PRICE: A three-course meal is from US$23 and five-course is from US$32, drinks excluded.
OPENING HOURS: From 1000 to 2300 daily.
VERDICT: We wouldn’t hesitate to return on our next visit, and we intend to bring resident friends, who are not familiar with the place.
CONTACT: 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam, tel 84 4 928 5900, www.bleudethuy.com.vn
Margie T Logarta