On the 36th floor of Lotte Hotel, Tim Ho Wan restaurant is in the midst of its usual hectic hours, a stark contrast to the calmness of the other restaurant on the opposite side of the corridor – Red River – a Chinese restaurant, also serves Chinese food but extends beyond dim sum. Although Red River did not receive the same media hype of Tim Ho Wan and therefore much less known, as soon as we stepped into the dining room, we knew we were heading towards the right direction.
1, A great and comfortable ambience
One cannot emphasize enough the importance role of ambiance in creating a dining experience. We were greeted by an instant submergence of flawless natural lighting created by the sleek modern floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The round tables covered with white table cloth serve to further brighten up the room by reflecting this gorgeous light. The incorporation of muted colors and wooden furniture creates a tasteful scene to behold.
2. Interesting menu
The menu of Red River showcases dishes from different styles, different regions of Chinese cuisine, both classic and contemporary. Prices range from 200000 VND to 750000 VND for common dishes. There are also high end delicacies like bird’s nest, abalone, shark fin that are in the 7-figures range. The set menu section comprises of 3 different small menus with items that are not available in the a la carte menu.
We started with Abalone braised in oyster sauce. Because this is premium abalone, the preparation was kept simple: steamed and doused in oyster sauce. The abalone was thick, subtly sweet, soft, and not fishy. However, the sauce could have been better: the starch used to thicken the sauce was undercooked. I usually don’t go for soup at Chinese restaurants because it’s usually under-seasoned and heavy with tapioca starch. But the Dry scallop and fried garlic soup was an exception, and exceptional. The strong umami taste of dry scallop dominated my taste bud, coupled with the speckles of crunchy fried garlic made for a wonderful dish.
The main dishes at Red River were done exceptionally well. I thoroughly enjoyed Sea cucumber with pork belly in oyster sauce. The pieces of sea cucumber were cut in thick satisfying pieces and were professionally cleaned. The crunchy texture was kept, going perfectly well with the oyster sauce. The pork belly was pre-roasted so that the skin kept its texture even after the meat had been cooked to tender. The braising process helped the sea cucumber flavor incorporate into the meat.
Another dish you should try here is Kung pao chicken. Amidst all the fine delicacies on the table, one would think this humble chicken dish would be overshadowed. But when the plate arrives at the table, the chicken aroma and golden color were so inviting that we just wanted to dive in. The sauce was made from hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cooking wine – creating a blanche of sour, spice, salty, sweet. The cut was skinned chicken thighs so the meat was flavorful and tender without being greasy.
Mapo tofu was another dish worth mentioning: silky smooth tofu submerged in eye-catching red sauce with its typical sweet spicy taste. Along with the kungpao chicken, this is the highlight of the meal.
The dessert of Red River was nothing noteworthy, but I couldn’t ask for much after experienced such a strong performance for the main courses.
It is a shame that Red River wasn’t more well-known. Compared to other Chinese restaurants in Hanoi, in terms of both food and ambiance, Red River should be amongst the best. With tasteful contemporary design, and private rooms, Red River is ideal for business luncheon or special occasions.