Under the helm of Nick Watt, Adelaide Casino’s Madame Hanoi has been delighting Adelaide with its French–Vietnamese cuisine for a couple of years now. The exciting news is that if you can’t get out of the office for lunch you can still enjoy a Madame Hanoi lunch at your desk. They have launched a takeaway menu with a mix of both Vietnamese and French influenced lunches.
Gone are the days when the inner western suburbs held the monopoly on the ever popular Vietnamese meat roll. There is no shortage of deli’s and bakeries offering their variation of a crusty roll filled with crispy roast pork, pickled carrot, cucumber. Madame Hanoi up the ante with their Banh Mi Thit – available dine in or take away for $8.00. On biting into the roll the first thing I noticed was the dominant pate flavour that generally takes a back seat or is omitted completely. I opened up the roll and sure enough there was a thick smear of the paste, rich and satisfying it had me wondering why it was so often left out. Thick slabs of pork belly with a layer of hard crackle are a little harder to eat than the usual shredded style. The addition of crushed peanuts and hoisin sauce are further unique additions that make the Madame Hanoi roll stand out from the masses. For me, it was lacking chilli but I have no doubt this could be accommodated on request.
Alternatively on the takeaway menu you can try a Banh Mi Trug Op La – a different take on the roll with fried eggs, pickles, pate, chilli mayo and herb, for $7.00.
On the French influence side of the menu is the Madame Hanoi Croque Monsieur. A toasty of thick sourdough slices, emmental cheese and glazed smoked ham. The top of the sandwich bears the marks of the broiler, rich cheesy béchamel, blackened, blistered and dripping down the sides. The underside is fried and crispy and thick slabs on ham inside make this oozy sandwich a wicked treat for $10.90.
Also on offer is a Xa Lach Nicoise; a salad with mackerel, eggs, olives, green beans and potatoes for $15.30. The French-Vietnamese fusion comes alive with this adaptation of a classic French salad. The mackerel is soft and delicate, but the fishy aroma seems to overpower the other elements of the dish. The olives adds some bitterness while the green beans provide a crunchy element to the dish. The salad is light and refreshing, but it could take some getting used to if you’ve never had it before.
If you’re thirsty, a Freshly Squeezed Juice of watermelon, lemongrass, ginger, mint and basil seeds, will take care of that. It pairs so well with the fresh Vietnamese flavours and its delightful pink hue will add colour to your day.
For those who have the luxury of time to dine in, there are some exceptional dishes to choose from. Our favourite dish of the day was the Muc Sua Chien Gion – crispy fried baby squid. Bite size cubes of squid are coated in a light, airy batter that was incredibly crispy. At first I likened the batter to a robust tempura, but tempura doesn’t carry flavour the way this did. Eventually I settled on a prawn cracker resemblance. Combined with the citrusy kick of finely shredded kaffir lime and a subtle heat from smoked chilli and the tender squid bite this dish is a winner on every level.
As always my eyes light up when a bowl of sticky wings are placed on the table. The Canh Ga Chien Nuoc Mam are served with a banana blossom salad and steamed rice. The crispy wings are coated in a glossy sauce that has a confronting heat on first bite. The heat is controlled and reduced by the sweetness of the glaze. A handful of fresh herbs torn over the top brings the freshness that we have come to rely on in Vietnamese cuisine.
Goi Zoai Du Du is a medley of fine julienne green mango, papaya and carrot. Peanuts, coriander, chili and lime and a sweet dressing finish the dish. The crunchy, fresh salad ticked all the boxes and is an ideal side dish or vegetarian option.
Now a Vietnamese/French fusion we are used to, but we were a little thrown to see a kangaroo salad on the menu. The Bun Thit Nuong Kangaroo draws on your typical Vietnamese noodle salad bowl but with the most Australian of ingredients – rare roo fillet as the protein. The salad was fresh and crispy with all of the usual suspects one would expect in a salad bowl – shredded lettuce, rice noodles, pickled carrot, cucumber, spring onion and a generous handful of mixed fresh herbs. The star of the dish was the delicious house made crispy shallots that are so crunchy and bursting with onion flavour. The thinly sliced kangaroo was served perfectly rare. We felt the salad was a little underdressed needing a little more acidity and seasoning that a dressing would bring.
Finally, we tucked into the Heo Quay Cuon Rau, a mouthful to say and also to eat. The same slab of pork belly we enjoyed in the Banh Mi were presented with lettuce cups, rice noodles, fresh herbs and hoi sin sauce. The idea being to wrap everything up in a lettuce cup, like a san choy bow. The pork is presented in perfect bricks, showing off the impressive crackle, rendered fat layer and tender belly meat. It is a little fiddly to wrap the block of meat in the cup and then bite into it. I recommend slicing the pork into a few pieces before making your lettuce wrap.
Now Madame Hanoi can cater for all your dining needs. Be it a long, grazing meal with an assortment of cocktails or a bottle of wine, a speedy yet delicious lunch in a beautiful surround or a satisfying bite on the run Madame Hanoi has you covered.
An emphasis on fresh, light and affordable the Madame Hanoi Lunchtime Quickie Menu is available daily from 11am–3pm.
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: Adelaide Casino, North Terrace, Adelaide