Review: Ha Long Bay

Update: Ha Long Bay has closed.

We normally don’t eat out two days in a row, and we normally don’t head up to the Polaris area, but as we were out and making a trip to Carfagna’s on 161, and Polaris wasn’t too much farther, we decided to use that opportunity to visit Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long Bay is a sit-down Vietnamese restaurant, located in an unassuming strip mall near the corner of Sancus and Lazelle. Once inside, the room is decorated in a comfortable red theme, with a good sized dining room. I’m going to apologize in advance for the pictures; the lighting was rather dim so I needed to use my flash, and the pictures turned out a little harsher than I would have liked.

It took us a while to decide, because nearly everything on the menu looks delicious (except the durian smoothie, of course – stinky cheese is yummy, stinky fruits are not!). I absolutely love Vietnamese-style spring rolls, but most have shrimp in them, so I was delighted to see that there were many choices here that were shrimp-free.

We decided on three rolls for our appetizer. The first, Bo tai chanh rolls ($3.50), are rare tender eye-round beef marinated in lime-pineapple and vegetables, surrounded by a fresh rice wrapper, and served with a peanut sauce. These were fantastic, with a wonderful crunch that went well with the softer textures of the beef, noodles, and rice wrapper. The peanut sauce worked well with the flavors of the rolls.

Ha Long Bay Bo Tai Chanh Rolls

The second, an order of Bi cuon rolls ($3), were very similar, but with a shredded lean pork in the center rather than beef, and a chili sauce on the side. These, we weren’t as crazy about, due to the stringy texture – this may be a personal peccadillo, however, rather than a deficiency in the food. The taste was good, though.

Ha Long Bay Bi Cuon Rolls

We also shared an order of Vietnamese eggrolls ($3), a deep fried wrapper filled with lean ground pork, mushroom, shrimp, carrot, onion, cabbage, and saifun noodles. Although these had shrimp in them, I couldn’t taste it and thought these were the best of the lot. They were served with a sweet and sour sauce.

Ha Long Bay Vietnamese Egg Rolls

I’m a huge fan of pho, but have only had it from one place previously, and wanted to try some from a different place in comparison. Wanting to stick as close to my usual as possible, I ordered the Beef Noodles Soup ($6.95), which is pho broth with thin sliced eye-round beef, onions, and rice noodles. It is served with fresh basil and bean sprouts on the side. The server brought out this HUGE bowl of steaming broth and noodles, so big that I immediately asked for a second spoon. For those of you who haven’t tried pho, the broth is not like your typical beef broth. It’s more complex and with deeper flavor notes, due to a mix of spices that go into the slow-cooking process. The pho broth here at Ha Long Bay is superb – full bodied and flavorful. This pho dish one of the biggest lunch bargains in town, folks.

However, we found it a bit too messy to eat there, and decided to package it up to eat the rest at home later.

Ha Long Bay Beef Noodles Soup

It’s hard to believe we had any room at all left for entrees, but we did. We worked up an appetite again trying to decide what to go for. On a previous trip, I had the Vietnamese street noodles, which I liked very much. My husband ordered something last time that he wasn’t too crazy for, and also wanted to order the Street Noodles. Since we have an unwritten rule that when we eat out, we should eat two different entrees (so I can try his, and he can try mine) it was a battle of wills over who was ordering the Street Noodles.

I won. The Vietnamese Street Noodles ($7.75), is a noodle dish reminscent of pad thai without the spicy seasonings. It is a combination of rice noodles, lean ground pork, and mixed vegetables, with your choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp. I chose the chicken. This a very safe dish for those who aren’t very adventurous, and the server says it’s their most popular dish. The flavor is good, even without the added heat.

Ha Long Bay Vietnamese Street Noodles

My husband chose the House Grilled Noodles ($7.95), which is grilled marinated beef, pork, and shrimp (my husband opted to eliminate the shrimp), eggrolls, mixed vegetables, served with room temperature noodles. The noodles have a bit of sweet/vinegary sauce with them, and this dish was oh-my-god fantastic. What really made this dish spectacular is the crunchy eggrolls – my advice is to ask them to add extra eggrolls when you place your order, as the 4 pieces that were in there were quickly consumed. I loved this dish so much that my husband did get his wish, and we traded entrees.

Ha Long Bay House Grilled Noodles

Service was fast, super-friendly, and helpful when it came to describing dishes and making suggestions. And the food was so good that I think I would make a special trip to Polaris (clear on the other side of town) just to eat there again. And the price is right – my husband and I got out of there with a check that was half of what we usually spend on a meal eaten in a restaurant. If you haven’t gone yet, I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to go: Ha Long Bay, 8489 Sancus Blvd, Cols., 614.436.4087

Ha Long Bay on Urbanspoon

9 thoughts on “Review: Ha Long Bay

  1. Trig

    This looks really good and the prices are so reasonable. You guys in the US are spoilt for food value compared to what we get for the price. However, that doesn't mean that Sam's challenge to find something edible in the way of English food will defeat me. I will be putting up a case on fish & quips!

  2. swampkitty05 Post author

    Is food much more expensive in the UK? I love fish and chips! Luckily we have quite a few places in town that make credible ones. BTW, your email is bouncing back to me when I tried to reply to you via email, not sure why.

  3. Jennifer

    Oh, yeah, house grilled noodles. So good. Nearly every Vietnamese restaurant has them and I’ve liked them everywhere I’ve gone. What could be better than a big noodle bowl?! There’s a Vietnamese restaurant on Morse Rd just east of Karl on the north side of the street, a little hole in the wall in (I think) the Woodward Park center that is good, as well. Plus the one on Cleveland Ave. north of 161. Can’t remember their names. Vietnamese is become very popular!

  4. Doug

    This definitely looks like a must-try. One question, though: do you know if they use soy sauce in anything? My friend and frequent lunch partner is gluten-intolerant, and even the small amount of wheat in soy sauce is a definite no-go.

  5. Rai

    My friend just sent me a message about this place, she works there and was insistent that I try it. I wasn’t sure, but after reading your review I definitely have to go! It sounds awesome!

  6. mseo1120

    The food took more than 40 minutes to be served onto the table. When I got my food, my food was cold. Very cold to the point where I could compare it to outside temperature in January! I asked the server if this food was supposed to be serviced cold because I did not know how Vietnamese food was served. He said that the food should be hot and he would have the cook make another one; however, the restaurant ran out of ingredients therefore, I would need to choose another dish. I chose another dish and again the food took an extremely long time. After the food was consumed and the check came out, I noticed that I was charged the amount of my original dish, which was close to $10. However, the second dish I ate was about $5 because it was in the lunch special. I notified the server, Khan and he said that the restaurant policy is that I am charged for the original dish ordered, not the actual dish I ended up eating. I said that it was unfair that I wanted this corrected so that I pay for the actual dish I ate. He said that this is not the policy that he agrees with; however, something that he has to follow as an employee of the restaurant. I asked for the manager and he said that he was the actual manager. I said since he was not taking care of things the way it should be done, I wanted to speak with the owner. He refused to make contact with myself and the owner and said that I should pay because this is the restaurant policy. I told him that the food took so long that the people that came in after I did completed their meals before my food even came out. He did not even bother apologizing and simply said that the restaurant was very busy. He also even said that the cook said that the food was not cold. If I did not like the dish and wanted another dish made, I would pay for the dish charged. This was not my fault. If the cook made the dish correctly, then nothing like this would have taken place. But if I ate a $5 dish and was charged $10, that is an absurd policy, especially with the policy not written on the menu nor on any place of the restaurant. So if you plan on going to this restaurant, keep your fingers crossed that your order comes out correctly because if not, you will be charged for something you did not eat!

  7. Susan

    Forget about this dingy little restaurant where the food imho doesn't have the freshness that IS Vietnamese food…go to Bethel Road to Bamboo Cafe–the prices are a little higher but the ambiance and the food is way superior..we are huge fans of the PHO and BUN…#31..they are closed on Mondays..
    Have fun.

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