Hanoi’s Wine Scene

8343259A wine lover’s dream. Hanoi has a vibrant wine scene and here’s my list of some favorite bars and restaurants with great choices in wine and tasting notes. Whether it’s pairing wine with Vietnamese and Mediterranean food, or a glass of wine with friends at sunset overlooking Hanoi’s lakes, here are some of the best spots. The most amazing bottle of wine you have ever tasted might just be the next one, so never stop searching and never stop drinking. Cheers!

My Top Favourites

La Badiane Hanoi has many restaurants that celebrate the Vietnamese-French culture so If you want to know the definition of “real French” in the middle of Hanoi, go to La Badiane. A Fusion of local and regional ingredients blended into classical French cooking. A great selection of wines, my favourites here are the Beaujolais and Premier Cru from Joseph Drouhin and the Spanish Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro with (Sweet dark cherry overlying pure red fruit with appealing wood smoke and blackberry set among grippy tannins) The restaurant setting is elegant and you’re welcome to pass by for wine and an aperitif. The restaurant delivers interesting tasting menus, including one designed with the most discerning gourmands in mind. La Badiane’s vegetarian menu is as sophisticated as its Dégustation Menu: a four course feast, with authentic flavors, which will convert you into a lover of the French cuisine. 8265104

Avalon Cafe Lounge Refreshments with a view. First I love their amazing roof top terrace with views over the lake, this is one of my favourite spots to relax with friends over a glass of wine and some very delicious snacks. You can eat here too and they have good Vietnamese & Western cuisine. Their selection of wine is varied, I would like to recommend the Pascal Jolivet blanc from the Loire Valley and Spanish Hecula red wine with (plum, fig, berriesintense balsamic aromas) The lounge bar is open all day, till late and a glass of chilled wine on the roof top late afternoon is magical. If you like, top off the experience with a snack to go along with your drinks. Both their Vietnamese and Western dishes are prepared creatively with the freshest ingredients. Then sit back and enjoy the view of the lake while the sun goes down and the city lights start illuminating the night skies. 8344295

Salmonoid Elegant fusion cuisine: There’s a new aroma and a new concept in town and it’s called Salmonoid. The idea is to create a wide range of fusion cuisines all based on salmon. Located in a beautiful villa with terraces and balconies which are filled with exotic palms sets the mood for Wine & Fine dining. A really great selection of wines, my choices would be Chateau Haut Selve, Graves with (Morello cherry, cedar, vanilla toast and black fruit notes) paired with the Grilled lamb-rack & Salmon with ginger sauce or with the Grilled beef & Salmon on potatoe puree. Also try the delicious Salmon Symphony with a chilled white wine. 8344297

Au Lac House:  I love sitting here at sunset on the villa veranda with it’s majestic columns, the black and white tiled floor and the wooden shutters surounded by shady trees it feels like stepping back in time, it’s wonderfully French-Vietnamese, and to have in my hand a glass of Chateau Paveil or Pessac Leognan. The beauty of this villa with its great selection of French wines to pair with the delicious Vietnamese cuisine on offer makes this a wonderful spot for lunch or dinner. Though I love just passing an hour or two here drinking some seriously good wine. Don’t be fooled by the French name though – the restaurant specializes in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, serving all-time favorites such as fresh and fried spring rolls, and more extravagant dishes, like roasted duck in mandarin sauce. 8344380

Sunset Bar at InterContinental Hanoi Westlake. Champagne and sunsets : In a super location with a large terrace overlooking the lake, this is the place to sit and enjoy Hanoi’s amazing sunsets. With large cane and bamboo sofas and shady gazebos it doesn’t get more luxurious than this and if you feel like splurging they have a really good choice of different sparkling wines to enjoy such as Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and Cremant. This is the go to wine spot in Hanoi as they host a Vinoteca event each month with seriously good wine. They also have red & white wines imported from famous wineries around the world. 8344292

Vine Restaurant & Wine Bar Worldly wines & innovative plates. Located in the buzzing restaurant and bar area of Tay Ho, this has to be one of my favourite wine bars in Hanoi. They have a superb selection of wines, the decor has a luxurious ‘wine cellar’ style and if you’re looking for something special this is the place. I enjoyed a Turriga Isola Dei Nuraghi 2003 with two years aging in French barriques, Turriga has notes of Mediterranean herbs, roasted coffee, spices, and licorice with a generous core of black and red fruit.) they also have a good range of Tiganello and South African wines from the Winery of Good Hope. I’ll just add they have friendly staff and really good metierranean cuisine. 8344290.jpg

Local Bar Wines in a party atmosphere, 16 Ta Hien Hoan Kiem. Aimed at a younger generation of wine lovers, this party place serves wines such as light Italian roses and crisp French Sauvignon Blancs.  If you are feeling adventurous and want to go for something out of the ordinary, test their signature wine cocktails. Drop by with your friends in the evening and dance the night away to their cool tunes or come by during the day and sit and chill.  The wines on offer change each week as choices are aimed at good value for your ‘dong’. Local Bar is in the old quarter and has those cute Vietnamese cafe chairs and tables outside the bar where you can sit and watch the ever changing panorama of the French quarter. 8344291


Recipe – Sarde in Saor – an antipasto with fresh sardines

One of my favourite Italian antipasti, perfect for an aperitif is sarde in saor – fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts, all preferably prepared the day before serving. sarde-in-saor-feature-101

The sharpness of the vinegar wakens the tastebuds, while the sweetness of the odd raisin here or there and the creamy nuttiness of the pine nuts balances the sourness. It is the ultimate sweet and sour, or agrodolce, dish.

Sarde in Saor
12 fresh sardines, cleaned, heads and backbone removed and butterflied
Flour for dusting
Vegetable, seed or olive oil for frying
Some white wine
a handful of raisins
1 white onion
250 ml of white wine vinegar
1 clove, ground or crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground or crushed
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of pine nuts
Dust the sardine fillets in flour and deep fry in plenty of oil until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside on some paper towel to drain until needed.
Soak the raisins in some white wine to soften them. Meanwhile, slice the white onion finely and saute gently in some olive oil until they are transparent, then add the vinegar, pepper and spices. Let it cook for a few minutes then remove from heat.
In a small terrine or deep dish, place a layer of sardines, top them with some of the onions, some of the raisins (drained) and pine nuts, and continue layering until the sardines are used up, then top with a layer of onions, raisins, pine nuts and finish with the vinegar sauce poured over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at least 24 hours before serving.
Serve as part of an antipasto, together with a selection of olives and crostini. These are best eaten at room temperature, removing from the fridge a couple of hours beforehand.

Happy Hour Every Day Italian Cocktails Aperitifs & Pizza

images  APERITIVI ITALIAN STYLE                                                                                                                                   

Every day from 17.30 to 19.30 it’s happy hour at Il Faro. We will be serving Italian Cocktails and Aperitifs and Pizzas. Relax and while away an hour or two with friends at sundown in our Italian Bistro courtyard.




Aperitif Recipes- Bellini Cocktail

To start our series of Recipes together with our Aperitivo all’Italiana every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Sundown: Il Faro Bed&Breakfast and Italian Restaurant Hanoi, we are celebrating the classic Italian cocktail, and you’re invited to join us for un Aperitivo all’Italiana.

Bellini cocktail

The Bellini cocktail was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1934. Because of the cocktail’s unique pink color, which reminded Cipriani of the color of a saint’s toga in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist  Giovanni Bellini, he named the drink  Bellini

Nigel Slater's Bellini cocktail

The essential white peaches, whose sieved pulp gives the cocktail its fragrance, can be found only in midsummer and autumn.

The recipe

Ideally, push your peaches through a food mill, but you may prefer to blitz them in a food processor. Despite their white flesh the purée will be a pale rose-gold. Put 2 tsp of the purée in the base of each chilled champagne glass then pour over thoroughly chilled, dry Prosecco. You need 2 or 3 peaches per bottle.

The trick

Have your white peaches ripe but refrigerated before you purée them. The choice of glass is up to you. I like a long stem on mine, but a thin tumbler is traditional. Keep everything chilled including the glass – a warm bellini is not worth considering. Use about 3 or 4 parts sparkling wine to one part peach purée. Don’t even think of using canned peaches. Bottled peach juice is just about acceptable, but sweeter and less fragrant, and somehow misses the point.

The twist

Swap the peach juice for tangerine, so you can drink it in winter. Use raspberry or strawberry purée, thoroughly sieved, and add a single drop of orange blossom water to each glass.


Aperitif-Antipasti Recipes- Deep Fried Stuffed Ascolan Olives

To start our series of Recipes together with our Aperitivo all’Italiana every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Il Faro Bed&Breakfast and Italian Restaurant Hanoi, we have chosen a very traditional Italian delicacy.


Olive all’Ascolana are delicious stuffed and deep fried olives typical of Ascoli, a city in Le Marche region

Ingredients for 10:

50 Olives

Olive oil for deep frying

Flour to coat

2 eggs beaten

Dried breadcrumbs to coat


3 tablespoons of olive oil

50g of butter

100g of lean pork, finely minced

100g of lean veal, finely minced

50g of boneless chicken, minced

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of dry Marsala or sherry

1 small black truffle, diced

few drops of truffle oil

30g of Parma ham, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of finely chopped parley

2 teaspoons of freshly grated nutmeg

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

50g of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

A little milk if needed.


To make the filling, heat the olive oil and butter in a pan. Add the minced meats and fry, stirring, for 5-6 minutes until well browned. Season with salt and pepper, add the Marsala or sherry and let bubble to reduce down. Take off the heat and cool, then transfer to a large mixing bowl .

Add the truffle and truffle oil, the ham, parsley, nutmeg and lemon zest. Then mix, adding the egg and grated cheese. The mixture should be firm enough to use as a stuffing but not too dry; soften with a drop of milk if necessary. Taste for seasoning.

Starting from the top, cut each olive in a spiral fashion to reach and lose the stone inside, keeping the spiral intact. Take a little of the filling and enclose it in the olive spiral, pressing a little to regain the original shape.

Finish and cook the olives a few at a time. Heat the olive oil for deep-frying in a suitable pan. Dip the olives in a little flour, then into the beaten egg, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Deep fry 2-3 minutes until brown, then drain on kitchen paper.

Serve hot as an antipasto, with little lemon wedges if you like.


Aperitivo all’Italiana- Italian aperitifs in Hanoi

10370984_314114125405970_6445774345660050518_nEvery Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5,30 to 7.30 pm join up with friends for an Aperitivo all’Italiana. A time to relax in Italian style in our sunny courtyard under the shady fruit trees while enjoying a unique selection of appetizers and wines. The aperitif is a genuinely Italian experience and is one of the most enjoyable moments for many Italians and very popular because food is served along with drinks.

Aperitifs are more common in the evening, just before dinner. Starting times vary with seasons and regions, earlier in the North and later in southern Italy. Typical Italian drinks consumed during aperitifs are wine, liquurs and cocktails. Perhaps one of the most classic drinks is the SPRITZ, a genuinely Italian cocktail made with dry white wine or prosecco, sparkling water and Aperol or Campari.

Aperol is an orange-flavoured Italian drink with a mix of different herbs. Campari has a higher alcohol content and is slightly more bitter. Both are used in a variety of Italian cocktails or simply drunk with ice and lemon. Another famous Italian cocktail is NEGRONI. It consists of red Vermouth, Gin, and bitter Campari. it is named after Count Negroni who invented it one day out of chance, inside an aristocratic cafe in Florence. Bored with his usual Americano, he asked the barman to add Gin instead of sparkling water.

The Aperitivo is a serious social event, a time to dress up and meet up with friends. the appetizers offered with an aperitif in Italy are varied, such as pasta, risotto, cold cuts, bread, vegetables, pickles and much more, in this case known as the ‘long aperitif’.

Some favourite Italian appetizers are below and Il Faro Bed&Breakfast and Restaurant will be posting up a recipe each week for an Italian Cocktail and Appetizer, though for those of you in in Hanoi we hope you’ll join us for an Aperitivo all’Italiana in person every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Sundown.

Up and coming Cocktail and Appetizer recipes

Parmesan cheese appetizers with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar 

Italian stuffed mussels

Italian truffle crostini recipe from southern Italy

Pesto and cherry tomato appetizer

Crayfish recipe in green sauce