Not far from the Hackney Picturehouse, this smallish but quite smart venue seems to get plenty of business from local Vietnamese. So much so that on a fine day the prime tables on the pavement are usually occupied by groups of Vietnamese men, drinking and talking. Many of them may be associated with the restaurant’s takeaway business, which focuses largely on common Chinese dishes.
Hai-Ha does, however, have quite a substantial Vietnamese repertoire. Cha ca la vong (named after a Hanoi restaurant that has served only this one dish for several generations) was a real treat; it consisted of grilled fish (here monkfish) marinated in turmeric, cooked with dill and spring onion, then topped with chopped peanuts. Seafood bun huế (noodle soup) was tasty and refreshing even on a very hot day.
This is more than can be said for the bottle of sparkling water, which was unrefrigerated and came with a glass still warm from the dishwasher; rather grudgingly, a small amount of ice was brought. Thankfully, the Saigon beer was chilled to perfection.