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Directions: Between Ly Quoc Su and Phu Doan, just south of Hang GaiPhone: +84 4 3938 1588
76 Yen Phu, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội
“A restaurant with a strange name in a strange place. "Tivoli Cafe" and yet there is no Italian food. Coffee, I guess? And the Hanoi Club is just odd. Is it a hotel? A country club? Social club? And yet, the food here is actually good and cheap. Seen a foreign chef milling about. Looke...”
I had very high expectations for Madame Hien. After all, it is housed in a beautiful villa, there is an open kitchen, and the owner is a famous chef. Unfortunately, it was probably one of my most disappointing dining experiences in Vietnam.
The problem with Madame Hien is that it promises so much yet delivers so little. While I appreciate the décor and the food hygiene and the courteous service, the Vietnamese food on offer here is just bad. It is uninspiring and is too bland at times or too salty on some occasions.
We had 6 people and ordered a lot of dishes to share family style. Among the dishes I remembered were the fried spring rolls, stir-fry chicken cashew, caramelized pork, clay pot fish and a crab-based broth with Vietnamese vegetables. The spring rolls were decent – not amazing but certainly quite nice. The chicken was the best dish, but all other dishes were disappointing. The caramelized pork was all fat – I understand that pork belly is fatty, but this dish was almost inedible lest I wanted to tempt a heart attack. The clay pot fish was full of bones and I gave up after two bites. The broth was definitely the worst I’ve had in my life – it was so salty I thought I was gargling salt water for my sore throat.
Our group included 4 Hanoians, one foreigner who has lived in Hanoi for several years, and one foreign tourist. The 4 Hanoians all agreed that the food was bad and would not be appreciated at their houses. The foreigner who has lived here a while thought it was not great, but edible – a sanitized version of Vietnamese food for the less adventurous tourists. The tourist thought it was okay – maybe he was being polite.
Just out of curiosity, I asked my friends who had been to this restaurant for their opinion and it seemed like the Vietnamese do not like it so much while the foreigners thought it was pretty good. I personally would never go here again for the food – it is rare to see such disappointment from a well-reviewed restaurant on TNH.
We were there as 2 couples. And we did join every single minutes there, the food and drink are so fantastic. They have smoking and non smoking room. The outlook of the restaurant is about the old house in Hanoi, really like that. I can't remember the whole name of my fav dishes there, but I absolutely will order again : Buffalo Fillet and Baby Pig made in Madame Hien style. Amazingly perfect taste, worth to try !
Hate to be negative and to give bad review. Madam Hien and Vaticale used to be our favorite restaurants. No more. We gave up on Veticale. Went to Madam Hien the last time, service was bad, food in tiny serving and just ok (can get same food in the street for a fraction of the price). For tourists that come to Hanoi for a few days, Madam Hien could be interesting but for the expats that live in Hanoi longer term, it is not.
Based on positive word of mouth, I took a visitor here. I tried not to have high expectations based on the reviews I read here, but was still slightly disappointed.
First and worst, it was hard to get the wait staff to pay attention to us. They kept rushing past and I really had to crane my neck to try to make eye contact; this shouldn't happen for the prices charged. Most didn't speak good English or French, and I had to repeat myself to three different servers before being understood for a vodka tonic.
Second, the food was good, but not outstanding. I did like the rice served, pagoda style. That was new and interesting for me.
Third, perhaps it was just the night,but other diners were often chain smokers, even during their own meals. Inhaling smoke just kills a meal for me and the smoke wafted everywhere.
We ate outside, which was pleasant, except for the intense lighting over the outdoor grills.
update: January 2011: Took important out of town guests here. Preordered the dinner for 6 by stopping by in person and going over the menu with a staff member, who helped me select a wonderful array of dishes. The private room on the ground floor was perfect and the staff attentive and efficient. A completely different experience than before. Up to 5 stars from my previous 3.
I had a bad experience actually getting a feeling that I was discriminated against as a local girl. I came there to see a friend, expecting it to be a great place as I think those big fancy restaurants frequented by foreigners should have a nice service.
As I got my friend's message that he was on the first floor, as soon as I entered the gate, I felt like I was stopped by the guy (should I call him attendant or waiter I don't know the word). I told him I was looking for a friend who was on his own on the first floor.
The guy just told me plainly that there was no guy sitting alone in here and I went to the wrong place.
He didn't even try to help me find him or ask me to call him again but just plainly say I entered the wrong place. Still I wondered how he could be that sure that I took the wrong place, even when I told him I went to Madame Hien and it was the right place.
I was almost stopped at the gate area, then waiting there for a while until I could reach my friend on the phone.
Actually he's on the second floor.
I don't know why I don't feel welcome and treated badly. Maybe the way I dressed that day, not too bad, just not fancy.
It was a real bad experience and you can tell Im still mad at it, again, after half a year.
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