It had me at the waterfall. I had driven past Hansan and seen the “weeping glass” waterfall and thought that it was an interesting décor choice for a restaurant. It was only recently that I found out that it offered delicious Vietnamese food at Cheapeats prices.
We had friends coming around to our home for a visit, so I went to the Hansan Newmarket location to order food to takeaway. I arrived early at around 6pm, and the restaurant was filling up with mainly young Asians coming for dinner. The décor is modern and refreshingly simple – a welcome change from some other Cheapeats venues!
Many of the offerings on the menu are geared as self-contained meals, ie meat/seafood on rice or vermicelli, or meat dish and soup. I passed on the main meal soups, thinking it too difficult to transport back to our home.
I managed to find several items that worked for a shared meal. Of course we had to start with the shrimp and pork summer rolls ($5.50/2). These were OK but I wish Auckland restaurants used more fresh coriander and mint in them. We also had satay chicken ($6/2) – somehow I missed out on these so they must have been good!
For our mains we shared two appetiser portions of pork spare ribs ($10/serve), Vietnamese style pork and prawn pancake ($16.50), pan fried chicken with lemon grass ($12), shrimp salad Vietnamese style ($10.50) and stir fried beef with black pepper sauce ($12.80). I would recommend all of them with the exception of the beef, which did not have the spicy hit that we were looking for. The pork spareribs were served dry style, without a sauce and were flavourful and tender. I loved the lemongrass chicken: thin, flat pieces of fried chicken meat with the delicious flavour and scent of lemongrass. The shrimp salad was served on a bed of finely shredded coleslaw and was dressed with a light nouc cham dressing.
The surprise hit of the meal was the pancake. I am fortunate to have eaten such a dish prepared by the lovely Miss Vy at the famous Morning Glory cooking school in Hoi An, and invariably I am disappointed when I order it in Auckland. However, this pancake was large and enveloped a filling of minced pork, shrimp and crunchy bean sprouts. Delicious and light. In fact, we all commented on how light all of the food tasted, none of the greasy residue left either in the containers or on our palate.
The food may have tasted light, but we were so totally satiated that we could not manage to share the two desserts that I had ordered: Banana sago with coconut cream and Taro and sticky rice with coconut cream ($5.50 each). Instead I placed the desserts in the fridge for another day.
Suffice to say that I would return to Hansan for the sago alone. Both desserts were rich and creamy – coconut cream does that to dishes! However, I am still getting used to “unusual” combinations of ingredients found in many Asian desserts, so I wasn’t very keen on the taro pieces with the sticky rice.
Hansan also offers a range of dessert beverages as well as fruit shakes and other drinks. The wine list is short and sweet, but most people seemed to be happy to drink beer or tea with their meal. In fact, I was given a complimentary pot of tea to drink while I was waiting for my takeaway meal. And when the meal did come out, it was neatly packaged in a cardboard box.
Do visit Hansan – walk inside past the waterfall and experience the freshness of Vietnamese cooking. Perfect for an informal meal out or a quick bite before/after the movies.