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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Green Hanoi

There’s Vietnamese food and then there’s Vietnamese-ish food. Green Hanoi falls in to the later category. With a very Korean-ized style and not a single Vietnamese person on staff the food is very much akin to Korean-style Shabu-shabu, which is a Korean-ized version of the Japanese hot pot dining experience.

Of course, that’s not to say non-authenticity is not delicious. Being an American, I’ve grown up in the land of knock-offs and know quite well that “Chinese food” is anything but in most American restaurants but I still enjoy it. Green Hanoi has many aspects of Vietnamese style cooking but just to be clear…it ain’t Vietnamese.  It was, however, delicious despite the lack of genuine Vietnamese style and ingredients.

Our dinner choice was the full A course, which included thinly sliced beef, duck ham and seafood along with an enormous tray of vegetables and a stack of rice doilies. A selection of sauces included a peanut sauce, a spicy hot pepper sauce and a fish sauce that was surprisingly fishy.

Seafood, meat, veggies, hot pot, rice doilies...and kimchi

If you like making your own mini-burritos with Korean Galbi or Samgyeopsal style meats wrapped in lettuce leaves where each bite can be your own unique blend, then Vietnamese spring roll style might be your speed as well. With a  tray of rice papers on the table, the idea is to dip the  rice paper in the bowl of warm water for just enough to thoroughly wet it.  Then lay it across your plate and load it up with your choice of meat, seafood and vegetables and top it with one or more sauces. The beef should first go in the, Luộc, or hot pot, as should most of the seafood. The duck ham (훈제) and shrimps, however, should be cooked on the hot plate surrounding the pot.  I’m a big fan of Korean duck ham but I don’t recall ever seeing it in any Vietnamese restaurant. It does make a  nice spring roll, however.

After the meats and veggies are consumed, rice noodles are cooked in the remaining hot pot water which by then has become a thin broth.  Follow that up with a rice and egg porridge made from the last dribbles of broth and you should be feeling satisfactorily full if not satisfied by the authenticity.

Few, if any of the traditional Vietnamese seasonings were available. There was no mint, no basil, no coriander and no lemon grass. There were, however, a couple of giò, or sausage balls, that tasted similar to those I’ve had in real Vietnamese joints.  And other than the rice paper and fish sauce that left only the name to remind me I should have been enjoying Vietnamese food.

Our total dinner for two, including all the food you see above plus the noodles and rice and a large bottle of Hite beer came to 38,000won.

Green Hanoi is a Korean shabu-shabu restaurant with a Vietnamese name.  Don’t go if you’re looking for authentic southeast Asian fare. But if you’re looking for Korean shabu shabu with a hint of southeast Asia, then Green Hanoi is great.

Green Hanoi is located in Samsandong a few blocks north of Hyundai Department Store.  They have a very large sign that is difficult to miss.