Hanoi Bike Shop

Hanoi Bike Shop has made a name for itself in the West End, occupying the former site of Stravaigin 2 & serving up a range of Vietnamese dishes. It’s somewhere that’s been on my hitlist for a while so we decided to pop along one Saturday night.

Wheels

The only word to describe the restaurant is quirky. It’s split over 2 levels & filled with lots of bric a brac type artifacts such as wheel spokes, tin cans & metal signs. It all merges together to give the feel that you’re actually eating in a street food shack type place. It’s also pretty cosy, which does have the disadvantage that you can overhear the people next to you without much effort, especially if they’ve had a few!

Hanoi Bike Shop Menu

In terms of dishes, most are of a sharing/tapas size, with 3 or 4 dishes recommended along with a side dish or 2. There is  a wide range of street food dishes ranging from rice paper rolls to sweet potato & soy bean cakes & grilled mince wrapped in betel leaf. The remained of the menu is made up of curry, stews, grills & traditional Vietnamese Pho. I shouldn’t forget to mention that Hanoi Bike Shop also makes all of their tofu in-house – the only restaurant I know who does so!

Condiments

Given the wide range of dishes as well as the specials on offer, it was really hard narrowing it down to a few dishes to share between us. We first went for the rice paper rolls filled with prawn & omelette. Being naive & never having had rice rolls before, I fully expected them to be similar to spring rolls. When I took a bite & it was a cold, I did get a bit of a shock! However, the roll was filled to the brim & the filling was full of flavour, enhanced by the fresh coriander throughout. The accompanying vinegar chilli dip gave it a bit of a boost.

Rice Paper Rolls

The remainder of our dishes were:

  • Black pudding & salt n pepper squid – this was delicious! The salt n pepper seasoning was not so overpowering that it detracted from the black pudding & complemented it well
  • Spiced Pheasant Curry – the flavour of this really reminded me of a massman curry which is my favourite Thai curry. I’ve never had pheasant in a curry before & can say it won’t be the last time!
  • Caramelised Sardines – this was a special on the night & the brown sugar caramelisation made the sardines so moreish. However, eating these with chopsticks proved very difficult!
  • The side we had were jasmine rice for the curry & seasonal greens wok fried with garlic which were very garlicky

Pheasant CurryBlack Pudding & Squid

I am a bit gutted that we didn’t try the tofu but there was so much choice that it wasn’t what we felt like on the night. Plus, it gives me an excuse to go back! We only had a glass of wine & a beer with our meal & the total came to just over £40, which was pretty reasonable. The one drawback was that because of where we were seated, we didn’t catch the price of the sardines so were shocked to find out it was £10 for the 4 sardines we ate. A bit pricey in our opinion.

Hanoi Bike Shop

I will definitely be back to Hanoi Bike Shop since there’s so much more on the menu I have to try!

Pizzas @ Vespbar

Those not familiar with Vespbar might not even know it exists as it’s tucked away in one of Glasgow’s many lanes. It sits in Drury Lane, between Renfield & West Nile St. Vespbar prides itself on its authentic Italian Pizzas & availability of prosecco on tap – definitely a first in Glasgow!

I went along one Friday evening to sample some of the pizzas to see what the fuss is about. Inside Vespbar, there is a quirky Italian/American feel to the venue which is split over 3 levels – the main bar area with a surrounding upper mezzanine & a basement where regular comedy shows take place.

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We were taken to our table in the mezzanine & presented with our menus. These were cool as each menu is on the back of an old vinyl – Dean Martin in my case. We were asked for a drinks order but asked if we could see a cocktail menu first as one wasn’t present on our table. After asking three waiters later, we were finally presented with a cocktail menu, from which 2 of us went for one of the prosecco cocktails. I have to admit, the prosecco cocktails we ordered did not go down well. Both were an attempt of reproducing cocktails with the addition of prosecco which did not work. I’d stick to bubbles on their own!

As we had waited a while for the cocktails menu, we didn’t place a food order until around 30 mins after arriving. I decided to go ahead & order one of the pizzas. Another quirky touch Vespbar has is the half metre & metre boards on which pizzas & sharing boards are presented. The table behind us had a half metre pizza which allows 2 pizza choices from the menu & looked like more than enough pizza for 2.

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Our food arrived & the pizza looked like too much too handle as it was huge! I had opted for a pepperoni pizza & was not disappointed with the quantity of topping. The pepperoni also had a nice kick to it as it left a nice spicy afterburn. The pizza itself was not as overfilling as I first thought due to the thin base which also made it prone to falling apart when trying to take a bite! I would say that overall the pizza was nice but I would rather have more cheese. The cheese was limited to a small section on the pizza in the middle, leaving the majority tasting of tomato only. The portion of chips we had were a portion to forget. They arrived soggy & tasteless. They transported me back to memories of childhood meals with homemade chips that had been put in the deep fat fryer. I would definitely not recommend them!

Despite the chips, I do see me going back to Vespbar to try a half metre board (not alone!) but asking for more cheese! Definitely a good place to go for a post work drink & quick munch.