Hansan Vietnamese Restaurant, Newmarket, Auckland

Vietnamese cuisine appears to be the next big thing in Auckland, with several new restaurants joining in on the craze.

Hansan Vietnamese Restaurant is a chain of large, fast, bright and at first glance, possibly authentic Vietnamese food. They have branches in Panmure (525-528 Ellerslie Panmure Highway Ph:09 – 570 6338), Glenfield (Unit E, 31 Link Drive, Glenfield Ph: 09 – 443 3836) and Newmarket (55 Nuffield Street, Ph: 09 – 523 3988). We visited the Nuffield branch, and were pleasantly surprised by the open and clean surrounds. The place was certainly well patronized.

I am laying my biases on the table: I have a Cambodian sister-in-law who is a fantastic cook, and have been impressed with the ‘Pho’ offerings in Melbourne. To me, Vietnamese food is uncomplicated food with fantastic fresh flavours.

The service is highly efficient, – on seating, a pot of hot Chinese tea is brought to the table and it’s onto business with their very extensive menu.

The drinks menu is a playground of unusual tastes. I was keen to try the avocado shake unfortunately, they were out. The jackfruit shake was a definite highlight, – the sweet, fragrant jackfruit partnered sublimely with the smoothness of the milk. My mango shake was good, but paled in comparison.

We started with their Deep-fried spring rolls ($4.50), which is served hot, and is eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped into the sweet chili sauce. This tasted stale, – must have been fried hours ago, and re-heated.  We also had their Pan-fried lemon grass chicken ($9), which was nicely seasoned.

I think the mark of any Vietnamese restaurant is the quality of their ‘Pho’. The soup base is the most difficult to get right, with a complex savoury taste coming from hours or even days of simmering pork and beef bones. Unfortunately, Hansan’s version (Raw beef rice noodle soup, $9.80) did not make the mark. The soup was bland, and beef slices tough. The dish comes with beansprout and lemon wedges for you to add to the steaming soup, though unfortunately not the Vietnamese basil that typically comes with pho in Australia.

Their Curry Chicken Noodle soup ($10.80) was rich and flavoursome.

I was disappointed with Hansan Vietnamese restaurant. It’s clean, quick and reasonably priced, but really offers very little for those who want fantastic and authentic Vietnamese food. I would come back for their drinks menu though.

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