St. Mark’s street has long been a haven for cheap and quick Asian food of all sorts; a mecca for NYU and Cooper Union students in search of affordable, filling dinners, or late night, alcohol-absorbing snacks. Yet its myriad holes-in-the-wall have rarely qualified as dining destinations unto themselves — making the just-opened Hanoi House a rather unique, exciting bird for not just students on a budget, but New Yorkers at-large.
For starters, it’s Vietnamese; a very welcome departure from the strip’s numerous sushi/ramen spots. And the team rocks surprisingly prestigious resumes; owners Sara Leveen and Ben Lowell are Stephen Starr vets — the former was director of new restaurant openings, like Upland, while the latter hails from Buddakan — and chef John Nguyen is a native of Orange County; home to the most sizable Vietnamese community in the United States.
Which means Hanoi House is in the cooler, hipper (yet still viably authentic) vein of Bun-ker; itself helmed by Eleven Madison Park alum Jimmy Tu. The space is outfitted with exposed brick walls and vintage tiled floors, brightened by sleek industrial fixtures, potted plants and gleaming mirrors, and accented with French-Vietnamese antiques, schoolroom chairs, and banquettes backed by repurposed headboards.
Then there’s the food — an appetizer selection of classic spring and summer rolls is supplemented by Spicy Frogs Legs in Cajun rice batter and Uni “Banh Mi;” a baguette spread with pate, pickled vegetables and sea urchin. There’s crispy pig ear in the Papaya Salad, roasted manila clams in the Congee, and Black Angus Heritage filet mignon bulking out the Hanoi-style Beef Pho, boasting a lush, 16-hour broth (optional meaty additions include oxtail and marrow bone).
Other traditional items are appealingly rejiggered as family-style feasts, priced at $21 per person. Bun Cha (generally just a noodle dish) features grilled pork, betel-wrapped meatballs, pickled papaya and crab spring rolls, in addition to a bed of rice vermicelli, and Cha Ca (an iconic creation from a century-old Hanoi restaurant) is divided into component, mix and match parts as well; dive into plates of pan-seared, turmeric-dusted halibut, charred sweet onions, sesame crackers, dill, peanuts and more of those noodles, delivered with ginger and tamarind dipping sauces.
While they don’t have a full liquor license, they have beer and wine, so you don’t need to depend solely on iced coffee for a rush. Suds skew local — think Braven’s Bushwick pilsner, Fire Island Ale and Two Roads IPA via Connecticut — while vino is largely French; look for Beaujolais Gamay, Rhone Valley Viognier, and Languedoc Grenache.
What a boon for area students looking to drink and eat economically, and all in one place.
119 St Marks Pl.