REVIEW: Hanoi Bike Shop (Glasgow)

Took a wee trip through to Glasgow one weekend to meet my sis for a gig and stopped by the Hanoi Bike Shop for a bite to eat beforehand. For an Edinburgh resident, it’s admittedly quite embarrassing how little I know of our neighbouring city and the culinary gems to which it holds host. Fortunately I am replete with knowing friends who can recommend at will, and the Bike Shop couldn’t come highly enough.

Located down one of the nook-like lanes of the city’s student-rife West End, it’s difficult to miss with its impressive logo stencilled to the white-washed exterior. The building is impressively quaint with Victorian balcony and garden furniture and bicycles appended to the walls and I found this was mirrored as we entered the premises…

Paper lanterns dangling from the ceiling and colourful condiment baskets create a warming kitsch effect, and spoked wheels, spanner arrays and painted cockerels adorning the walls encourage a sense of  cosiness. Greeted by a casual, amiable fellow, who promptly relocated our jackets, we took our seats and thought about drinks.

Despite the small yet interesting cocktail list, I opted for a juice (I was driving after all), whilst my sister chose an unusual rum and fresh orange blend…! On then to the food. Our waiter explained the ideas behind the menu, which has been broken into sections; Tofu, Street Food, Pot & Grill and Pho. The former duo designed to be shared tapas style, while the latter meant as a fuller meal for one.

We opted with the former, however my sister – being a vegetarian – would get the shorter end of that proverbial stick as I chose carnivore-friendly dishes in the Red Dragon Pheasant Thighs (Ga Loi Bap Ve) with Pickled Kohlrabi, Mint, Coriander, and Crispy Shallots (£6.45) and Sesame Chicken Livers (Gan Ga Nuong Me) with Pickled Kohlrabi Salad (£5.60). Of this pairing, the thighs lingered in the memory longer, with a delectable sticky, sweet glaze coating the succulent brown meat. The livers were also very, very good, if a little dry, but the combination of the sesame coating and the nearby dipping sauces at my disposal, this was nary a problem.

Sis’ choices were no less a knockout. The Daikon and Soya Bean Cakes (Banh Cu Cai Dau Nanh) might have been quite bland had it not been for the exquisite Crispy Shallot, Birds Eye Chilli and Spring Onion dressing (£5.45). She also chose the Black Pepper Tofu (Dau Hu Chien Sot Tieu) with Pickled Mushroom and Crispy Shallots (£6.45)… ooft, my word! I am no fan of tofu, but again the glaze held the key to this dish and this competed competently with the thighs for dish of the night.

At the end of the day, this was just a short pit stop for a quick and easy bite to eat, but what unfolded once we walked through those doors was no simple meal. And I can’t wait to make the trip once more, bring the missus down, leave conditions at the door, and do the full experience properly. This menu is far too intense to only ever do once.

Look forward to seeing your spokes again soon, Hanoi.

Fantana Score: 8

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