Hà currently has three branches of restaurants and a bar in Montreal. Hà is a tribute to Mr. Hà, the Vietnamese chef who inspired it all but passed away in 2015.
I personally am not the biggest fan of pho – it’s everywhere, and it’s kind of boring. You can find beef noodles in a lot of other cuisines – Malaysian, Taiwanese… so I am glad that Hà has more to their menu than just pho.
Hà’s menu in fact, is a mesh of Mr. Ha’s Vietnamese classics and Chef Ross’s Laotian culture. Food is also inspired by seasonal produce, other South East Asian flavours (hoping to see more Malaysian/Singaporean twists!), and of course, Montreal.
Hà strives to create an authentic atmosphere for their guests with the traditional Vietnamese concept of the BIA HOI. What is BIA HOI? They are casual street-side restaurants where you eat and share a kitchen.
Here were our drinks. From the left to right, we had the Saigon Sour #2, Pandan Mojito and the Watermelon Cooler (all $13) as recommended by the staff. They were all perfect for the summer and refreshing. My favourite was the Pandan Mojito, it reminded me of home. Back in Malaysia, my mum would lay out pandan leaves in our cars as air freshener. I absolutely love pandan.
As for our small plates, we had the Red Tuna Steak ($28) and Tom Yum Salmon ($23). The Red Tuna Steak was served with wakame salad, fresh vegetables, marinated shimeji mushrooms and spicy tamarind sauce. It was our favourite out of the two because of Tuna was well-seared whilst the Salmon lacked the Tom Yum taste – Tom Yum should be super rich in flavour in my books, it’s how I’ve always ate it.
As for the main meal, I had the Lemongrass Grilled Chicken ($21) with vermicelli. Although I am not a huge fan of pho, I am a huge fan of bun cha so naturally this would have been my order. The chicken was tender and the vermicelli wasn’t soggy but it wasn’t outstanding in flavour.
You could taste the lemongrass and the fish sauce, but yet there was nothing special about these basic ingredients when they were combined. It was an averagely good bun cha. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to rave about either.
We also ordered the Coco Curcuma Rice ($4) because we thought it would be similar to our coconut rice in Malaysian nasi lemak to go with our Hanger steak (below) but it was a let down – the rice weren’t strongly flavoured at all and was dry.
The 1855 Grilled Hanger Steak ($24) is served with satay sauce, crispy broccoli and spiced peanuts. It was the best dish of the night. The steak was tender but the satay sauce didn’t go as well as I hoped it would with the steak. It may be because I am simply too used to having satay sauce with satay!
To round off our meal, we had the Coconut Tapioca ($7) for dessert. It is served with fresh fruits, matcha ice cream and caramelised peanuts. It reminded of the street-style desserts you would find in South East Asia so dessert lived up to our expectations.
Overall, we had a pleasant experience at Hà but it wasn’t an extraordinary one. The food was not totally authentic. Sure they used authentic ingredients, but the bowl of bun cha did not remind me of anything I ate in Hanoi or Hoi An. Hà – great to try but hard to return to.
Expected Wallet Damage: $$-$$$
Contact: +1 514 379-4111 (Old Montreal) or reserve online through their website
Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays, Mon to Wed 11:30 – 15:00 & 17:00 – 22:00, Thur and Fri 11:30 – 15:00 & 17:00 – 22:30, Sat 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Perfect For: Girls’ Night Out, Office Lunches and Dinners, Dates, Anniversaries, Casual Wine Nights, Birthdays
Where: 600 William Street, Montreal, QC H2Y 2E5