We had the pleasure of eating at Oi Hanoi in November 2015. As I searched for their website, it seems that they may be permanently closed?? They haven't had any activity on Facebook or Instagram in a while, but someone recently reviewed them on TripAdvisor.
While I don't believe my blog post would have saved the restaurant, it breaks my heart that I didn't praise it sooner. This article about the owner bringing Oi Hanoi "back to life" is from October 2015.
I've decided to still publish this blog post because
1) I'd already written it before adding this preface; and
2) I love(d) the restaurant
Much like other cultural epicenters, London has an unlimited amount of Asian food possibilities. We were visiting London primarily to see my mom, who had scheduled her trip months before we moved to Germany, as well as my dear friend Brooklyn Deferred, who relocated from New York. And, as luck would have it, Ai Weiwei had an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts during that time. Our schedule was packed!
If you don't know who Ai Weiwei is, please take a moment to visit the Royal Academy's page about the exhibition for a quick intro to his work, or visit his Wikipedia page for a more extensive telling of his story.
In short, he is a Chinese multimedia artist who has openly criticized his government, resulting in detainment and house arrest. Another one of my favorite installations by him (though I didn't have the opportunity to see it) was his installation at Alcatraz in 2014.
But back to the pho:
The winning factor for eating at Oi Hanoi was that it was within walking distance of our hotel. We arrived as soon as it opened. It was two floors and narrow, which, for some reason, wasn't what I expected. It felt more like a take-out place for that reason, though we were happy to sit and enjoy our meals. Yes, plural - we ate there twice.
When we ordered the first time, the gentleman behind the counter questioned the size of our appetite, but we assured him we would eat everything. He also noted that the bread man would not make his delivery for another 10 minutes, so the pho would be served before the banh mi. We were quite OK with this.
When the food was finally served, our bellies were grumbling for joy. The regular size (which the gentleman believed to be too large for us) was just the perfect size, and although the banh mi ended up being bigger than we imagined, it wasn't anything we couldn't handle. It was so packed with pork, we weren't sure there were any vegetables in it.
The second time we went, we ordered pho, but instead of banh mi, we had summer rolls and steamed pork buns, all of which was still heavenly.
As mentioned above, the internet seems to believe Oi Hanoi is closed - will you let us know? 91 Whitechapel Hight Street, London E1 7RA, United Kingdom, Tel: +44 20 7650 0001