Built on the same location as a once well-known café, the new incarnation is an oasis of calm. With its hidden garden and focus on greenery, entering Satori creates a sense of relaxation that is in stark contrast to the busy streets outside. All making this beautiful and calming space a perfect escape from the bustle of the city.
A Greener Era
“I wanted to create a green environment,” explains owner Linh Nguyen. “The scent of lemongrass, the trees and plants; it feels refreshing when you enter.”
There are pleasant shades of green throughout the interior thanks to four main spaces, each one possessing a unique personality. The room overlooking Dien Bien Phu is bright and cheerful, with hanging wall plants and masses of natural light bursting in through the all-glass front.
The huge main room towards the back has a real warmth, helped in part by its rustic, dark wooden tables. Beyond that, there’s the large outdoor garden area — the hidden garden — with tables, benches and an abundance of flora. All is to a backdrop of a soundtrack of jazz and bossa nova, with the atmosphere enhanced by fresh flowers in every space.
However, the green and healthy vibe goes deeper than just appearances.
“We have a promotion for vegetarian and vegan food or people arriving by bicycle,” says Linh. “10 percent off, and they can be combined!”
The new executive chef, Nguyen Thanh Tam, brings a wealth of experience in cooking Western dishes, from his time working at KOTO Saigon.
“Our focus is on Western food here,” says Linh. “I could eat it all day! Our chef is also an expert in cooking Western cuisine.”
The brand new menu is full of Western classics using real homemade ingredients, such as the pastas and dark rye bread.
Making good use of the homemade bread is that brunch superstar, eggs benedict (VND129,000). Served with spinach, flavoursome smoked ham and a thick, rich Hollandaise, it’s as good as any you’ll find around town.
“It's not easy to find a place serving brunch in the centre of Hanoi,” says Linh.
Not any more. The quality of the bread and the perfect, yolk-spilling eggs, sound the arrival of a new brunch heavyweight.
Inspired by Linh’s time in Morocco, the grilled salmon and passionfruit sauce (VND229,000) is served with couscous; the fish is of the highest quality, lightly grilled and well matched by the sweet and zesty passionfruit sauce.
The drinks are as refreshing and delicious as they are colourful; the apple mint tea and watermelon lychee fusion (VND69,000) are both packed with fresh fruit and ice.
The best surprise of the meal is the grilled halloumi cheese and rocket salad (VND129,000). The thick balsamic glaze cuts through the peppery leaves and saltiness of the halloumi, to create a well-balanced and light dish.
Service is delightful throughout, and the infectious smiles of our young servers don’t go unnoticed.
“I told my staff they must be happy if they want the customers to be happy,” explains Linh.
Rounding off the meal is the bread pudding (VND49,000). Soft and lightly spiced with cinnamon, it’s not as rich or heavy as the huge dollop of whipped cream on top would suggest.
The word satori is Japanese; the name is the same as that used for Satori Homestay. The two businesses are part of a chain of leisure destinations in Hanoi. Satori means “enlightenment”, which applies perfectly to both entities.
It’s impossible not to feel peaceful and relaxed inside Satori; from the pleasant design, through to the varied and delicious menu, to the delightful staff; it all adds up to the ideal dining experience for a busy city centre.
Satori — Slack and Savor is on the second floor at 18 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The restaurant is open daily from 8.30am until 11pm. For more information, call 0904 866996 or visit facebook.com/satorihanoi
Photos by Julie Vola