Hanoi Naturally: Vietnamese Fare in JLT | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Dec 11, 2014

Hanoi Naturally: Vietnamese Fare in JLT

I was in my early 20s when I had a bowl of pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, for the first time. It was in a Vietnamese restaurant chain in Manila right after my first International trip. The sting of the travel bug lingered as I opened my taste buds to an unfamiliar pleasant flavor. The feeling of wanderlust was new to my senses, but that moment, it became clear to me that food and travel go hand in hand. I fell in love with the subtle Vietnamese noodle soup and wondered what it would be like having it in the streets of Vietnam. So, it went down on my travel list.

Several months after my first pho (pronounced as "fuh", by the way), I moved to Dubai and my dream to travel to Vietnam was temporarily pushed aside. I still have it on my list though, and while I'm waiting for it to happen, I satisfy my pho cravings in a humble Vietnamese restaurant in JLT.

Hanoi Naturally in JLT Dubai
Hanoi Naturally in JLT Dubai

I stumbled across Hanoi Naturally late 2012. The restaurant's location is quite far from home and I was not sure if it's worth the 40-minute train ride, hence I have only dined early this year during a meet-up with blogger friends. Because of the raves I've heard, I came with high expectations and Hanoi Naturally lived up to the hype!

Since then, Hanoi in JLT became my piece of Vietnam in Dubai. In fact, Ed and I returned to the restaurant recently to have another bowl of  pho dac biet or the Hanoi Special Pho.

I adore Hanoi's quirky atmosphere; the green and yellow chairs, the wooden benches topped with homey cushions, the white wall decked with fine portraits and even the fake plants that adorn the plain corners! Who would have thought there's something like it in the fancy district of JLT!     

Hanoi Vietnamese restaurant in Dubai
Hanoi Naturally's quirky interior
Vietnam vibe at Hanoi Naturally
the Vietnam vibe

Hanoi Naturally offers five varieties of pho, but it has always been the Hanoi Special Pho for us because it certainly is special! It has a combination of rare steak, brisket, beef balls, rice noodles and herbs in a clear savory broth. Yup, all the good stuff in one big bowl! 

Hanoi Special Pho is already packed with flavors, yet still served with mint, onion and bean sprouts on the side. I'm pretty sure those fresh vegetables would enhance the taste, but I'm lovin my pho the way it is... light and delicate. So, I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy it without the garnishing.     

Hanoi Naturally special pho
Hanoi Special Pho

Aside from the popular pho, Hanoi Naturally has an extensive menu of Vietnamese cuisine. From the list, I met my ginger loving husband half-way and ordered ga ham gung. According to the menu, it is braised ginger chicken in the bone served in a claypot. 

The claypot got me, so I was really disappointed when the dish arrived in a cookware that my satisfactory kitchen know-how identified as a stainless steel pot. Although it's also not the kind of "braised" that Ed and I know, we still ate it with gusto! It is flavorful with a hint of ginger, but honestly, I'd rather skip it for a bun dish next time! 

Hanoi Naturally braised ginger chicken
Hanoi Naturally's braised ginger chicken

For dessert, we ordered che choi or sesame and coconut dumplings in ginger syrup. Ginger in a dessert sounded weird to me, but decided to give it a try for the sake of curiosity. And yes, for the sake of my husband's happiness as well! Heh! 

The dumplings were served in a light syrup with sesame seeds and peanuts. Che actually means Vietnamese sweet soup, that's why it looks more like a soup and not a dessert (see photo below). After I had a bite, I realized it's not that strange at all. The dumplings are similar to buchi, only softer and as you can see, swimming in a sweet ginger soup... I mean syrup! :)

sesame and coconut dumplings in ginger syrup
sesame and coconut dumplings in ginger syrup

A lot of people say that Hanoi Naturally's pho tastes authentic. If it is, then that's awesome! It would probably take a few more years for me to prove it right, but I can wait, especially now that I found a restaurant where my taste buds can frequently have a preview of what I'll be having in Vietnam.

Hanoi Special Pho: 35 AED
Braised Ginger Chicken: 40 AED
Sesame and Coconut Dumpling: 22 AED

Hanoi Naturally
JLT (Jumeirah Lake Towers)
Gold Crest Executive Building, Cluster C
Contact # 04 4313099
nearest Metro Station: a short stroll from Jumeirah Lake Towers (Red Line) exit 1

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