This was our last night in Vietnam (for the second time) and we had always had another favourite in Hanoi (check my other reviews to see which one that was). We went to our old favourite this time and the pace was so frenetic that it didn't feel like we actually enjoyed the meal.
Then a bit of research on tripadvisor (looking for somewhere close to where we are staying in the Old Quarter) and we hit on Restaurant 96. We could not have had a better lining up of the planets or the stars or whatever because this has become our new favourite. On a Saturday night with the night market just down the road (which we don't rate at all - it's bland cheap stuff) and the busy street below we took another Trip Advisor reviewer's tip and took the outdoor upstairs balcony. This was the best decision that we made all day!
The waiter Chuong was attentive and more than willing to help with suggestions on the menu. We were clear that we didn't want anything rolled up in rice paper (since we've eaten that most every day since we've been here) which proved to be the next best decision today.
The Chicken Salad as entrée (appetizer) was brilliant sweet and tart yet crunchy with grated raw vegetables and jus the right combination of fish sauce and sugar/lime juice. The beef grilled with lemongrass and chilli was marinated pieces of beef squeezed inside entire lemongrass batons and grilled over flame served with rice and more simple grated salad (no dressing). The one we weren't sure about when we were ordering was the roasted duck with Muc Mac leaves - recommended as a personal favourite of Chuong. We were wary as there is only a type of leaf we cannot stomach in Vietnam and that's Fish Mint - tastes like what I imagine a wet dog would if I were to lick one. Unfortunately in some places there is a lot of this in the food... No problems though Chuong had a plate of the dried dark brown rich caremelly scented leaves sent up from the kitchen and we knew that this was the next dish for us!
We cannot fault a single morsel we ate and we cannot fault the attentive service which was also friendly and relaxed. Chuong is a credit to his profession and the chefs were also. The rest of the staff were lovely and full of smiles and warm wishes both as we arrived and left.
I have uploaded some photos from our time on the deck. I didn't get any photos of the bathroom (which another TripAdvisor writer suggested was worth a look) but needless to say the men's and women's were in floor to ceiling marble and spotlessly clean - without that horrible moth ball smell that most men's have in Vietnam.
Do yourself a favour and drop in here. The wine isn't cheap (480,000 D) but if you want wine in this country - and we did -you have to pay. The rest of the bill came to around 280,000 D which included some young rice and mango ice cream/gelato and water. Well done Restaurant 96 and Chuong!