The five best Vietnamese restaurants in Cologne
The people of Cologne love their Asian restaurants. Japanese cuisine is a particular favourite but, with the number of Vietnamese restaurants already large and ever-growing, Vietnamese food seems to be right on trend too. Here are my top five of the Vietnamese eateries the city has to offer.
A taste of Saigon: Lúa by Danny in the Belgian Quarter
Lúa by Danny, on the edge of the city’s Belgian Quarter, may only have opened at the beginning of 2019 but the owner, Danny, is a well-known face in Cologne, having worked at the nearby Chum Chay Vietnamese restaurant for many years.
Danny’s vision was to bring a taste of Saigon to Cologne. The result, Lúa by Danny, is small in size but big on friendliness and laid-backness. The stripped-back menu features Vietnamese classics such as pho soup, with a range of vegetarian and vegan options and plenty to keep carnivores happy too. There are also daily specials to add a touch of variety.
The food is delicious and good value for money. None of the dishes costs more than 11 euros and the portions are bound to fill you up.
My favourites: The banana blossom salad with tofu and the bun gha gio, a dish combining rice noodles with fried spring rolls, soya bean sprouts, cucumber, basil, coriander, fried onions, peanuts and lime sauce, for 9.90 euros.
Vacation vibes at Ha Noi 46 in Nippes
May 2019 brought the residents of Cologne’s Nippes district their very own Vietnamese restaurant – Ha Noi 46. With its bamboo light fittings and wood featuring very strongly in the interior design, this place really looks the part. The front section of a wooden hut leans decoratively against the walls, and the high ceilings and long rooms give the place a spacious feel. There’s an extensive menu with a large selection of Vietnamese specialities and – vegetarians rejoice – a separate menu for non-carnivores. All of the vegetarian dishes are also available as vegan options.
The food at Ha Noi 46 is not quite as spicy as at other Vietnamese eateries. So, while it doesn’t necessarily provide that special Vietnamese flavour explosion, it’s definitely a good choice for the non-initiated who want to give Vietnamese food a try.
My favourites: Nem cuon (summer rolls) and bun nem chay, which consists of rice noodles with fresh salad, onions, peanuts, Vietnamese herbs and a vegetarian spring roll.
Laid-back atmosphere at Nam La Vietnamienne Cuisine in the Rathenau Quarter
Colourful paper lanterns adorn the ceiling of this restaurant. It has a very simple, yet inviting, interior and a really friendly owner. The menu has all the Vietnamese classics, from summer rolls to pho soup to mango salad. The prices are more than fair, with a menu full of great-tasting dishes for less than 11 euros. The house-made meatballs in the pho soup are freshly made and pleasantly spicy. The herbs, including coriander and masses of Thai basil, are served on a separate plate, which is a wonderful idea because then you can season your food to your own taste. For dessert, you have to try the tapioca pearls – simply divine and like nothing else.
My favourites: Bun cha gio, crispy spring rolls filled with minced meat and served with rice noodles, lettuce and house-made radish and carrot salad.
Address: Engelbertstraße 3, 50674 Cologne
Opening hours: Tues-Sat 11.30 am-3.30 pm and 5.30-10.30 pm, Sun & public holidays 12 noon-10.30 pm, Mon closed
Web: www.instagram.com/namkoeln, www.facebook.com/Nam-Köln-464322970980188
Bringing the Mekong Delta to Cologne: Út Han near Rudolfplatz
Ùt Han serves typical South Vietnamese cuisine from the Mekong Delta. The menu includes mouth-watering Vietnamese specialities, of course, including summer rolls and mango salad. There’s also a specials board. In addition to the classic pho, you should definitely try the chicken soup with wontons and spicy coconut milk. Vegetarians are spoilt for choice here too. If you’re looking for a good starter, I can recommend the mango salad with tofu. There aren’t many tables in this traditionally furnished place so it’s best to book ahead.
My favourites: Bún nam bô chay, a rice noodle dish with tofu, lemongrass, shallots, lots of herbs, peanuts and lime sauce, for 8.90 euros.
Address: Richard Wagner Str. 20, 50674 Cologne
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 12 noon-10 pm, Sat 2-11 pm, Sun 2-10 pm
1980 – Coffee and Vietnamese baguettes
I have to admit I was a little surprised when I first looked at the menu at 1980. Baguettes are the last thing you expect in a Vietnamese restaurant. But, as well as the classic pho soups, 1980 serves Vietnamese street food, including “banh mi” – a Vietnamese-style baguette. Banh mi came about during French colonial times in Vietnam and is a mixture of French bread and an Asian filling. The baguettes come with a variety of fillings for meat eaters, including ox cheeks for example, and with tofu for vegetarians. They’re served with yummy sweet potato fries with chilli, coriander, salt and house-made mayonnaise.
And then there’s the coffee selection at 1980! The Vietnamese filter coffee with condensed milk is almost like drinking a hot chocolate with cream. Don’t leave before you’ve tried one!
My favourites: Pho chay, flat rice noodles in a vegetable broth with tofu, seitan, mushrooms, carrots, radish and fresh herbs (7.90 euros) and the hot version of the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (3.50 euros)
Address: Bobstrasse 28, 50676 Cologne
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12 noon-10 pm, Sun 12 noon-7 pm, Sat closed