Hard to know what to say about Halong. Is it tasty food? Yes. Does it blow your mind? No. Would I go back? Yes, especially for takeout. Would I take friends there? Possibly not. Mixed messages anyone?
Let me explain. Someone recommended we check out Halong in New Lynn so we trotted out there on a cold stormy Auckland night. It’s stark and bare inside but spacious – not a cheap eat with atmosphere. We ordered some of our favourite dishes: rice noodles with prawns, lemongrass chicken, deep fried spring rolls, fresh summer rolls and bok choy with oyster sauce.
This all came to the grand total of $38 for two people so it was great value for money but the food was a little ordinary. Having said this, we happily ate it all so it certainly wasn’t bad. It’s just that real Vietnamese cuisine has big, fresh flavours and this was more like nice Chinese food with Vietnamese condiments.
The fresh summer rolls ($5) were lovely when dipped in sauce but the green inside was only lettuce so it missed that coriander, mint hit. The fried spring rolls ($4.50) had that good crispy texture but a pretty standard fried rice paper and savoury pork flavour. The lemon grass chicken ($8.50) was tasty but again the lemongrass hit just wasn’t big enough and the rice noodles ($12.50) were also appetising – with bean sprouts, prawns and other veges – but not extraordinary.
We did find that once we played with the condiments a bit (bird’s eye chillis in a sweet marinade, chilli sauce and a hoisin style sauce) things got a bit more exciting, and as I said, we did manage to eat everything on every plate. I would definitely recommend Halong for takeout on a Friday night and for good ‘generic asian’ food. A good local if you live close but don’t go if you’re looking for a taste of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.