When I run out of ideas for something new for lunch, I always start to crave bit tet (Vietnamese style beef steak) on the famously crowded Hàng Bài Street in Hà Nội.

DIG IN: The medium-well done beef steak is the speciality of the restaurant.

by An Vũ 

After a series of disappointments trying the meat at restaurants on Hoè Nhai and Quán Thánh streets, I was introduced to Bit Tet 53 at number 53 in the middle of Hàng Bài.

Although my office is nearby and I have driven down the road many times, I had never noticed it before, as the signboard is pretty hard to read and from the outside the eatery looks more like a house.

The inside is a cosy, narrow house, not like a fancy restaurant. A line of plain chairs runs from the door to the yard inside.

Although the inner space is quite narrow, all the seats are comfortable and clean.

A conversation with the owner helped me learn the history of this house-restaurant. As it happens, it has been open for nearly two decades as a family business run by brothers and sisters, most of whom retired in their 40s or 50s.

JUST LIKE HOME: The inside of the restaurant is not so spacious, but always gives a cosy atsmosphere for customers. VNS Photos Trương Vị

All the waiters and waitresses we

re on the older side, in sharp contrast to most places I eat. At first I thought this meant service would be slow, but on the contrary things at Bit Tet 53 ran like a well-oiled machine.

I ordered three steaks for me and my co-workers, three French fries, a salad and three breads and to my surprise, it took only 10 to 15 minutes for the hot dishes to appear.

For my portion, I had a medium-well steak, with soft meat without too much aromatic marination. The flavours melted in my mouth.

Next, I turned to the fries. While looking at them, I wondered if they had already turned soggy, but luckily they were still crispy without being overly fried.

The sauce was beautifully coloured, not too greasy, consistent and aromatic enough to enhance the form and flavour of the meat. Bit Tet 53 offers plenty of choice from pepper, soy sauce and chilli sauce to add to enhance your meal.

As for the bread, I did need to ask for more, but it was worth the wait. The crunchy crust and fluffy crumbs let me know it was freshly-baked.

SOMETHING HEALTHY: The salad is a plate of sliced cucumber, lettuce, and onion mingled with vinegar to help decrease the greasy flavour of the steak and fries.

There was only one thing that let the meal down: the salad. I imagined a dish of mixed fruit with different kinds of vegetable, but it was actually a plate of sliced cucumber and onion blended with vinegar to help cut the grease of the steak and fries.

Overall, you can't knock VNĐ100,000 (US$4) per portion in a bright, clean, tidy space with good service and a whole plate of good steak with aromatic sauce.

If you're not a fan of beef steak, you could try hot chicken soup for an appetizer with beef-cooked rice as a main for price at VNĐ60,000 ($2.59).

If you are into fancy and shiny looking restaurants with pricey dishes, this place may not be for you. But if you want to gather with family and friends to make warm memories after a long working day, Bit Tet 53 is the place to be. VNS

Bit Tet 53

Address: 53 Hàng Bài Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội

Tel: 024 382 257 63

Opening hours: 9am — 10pm

Comment: Vietnamese home-styled restaurant which offers a cosy and friendly space for families, friends and co-wokers to get together. Main dish is beefsteak, but it also offers a menu of other potential dishes also. A must for those who love downtown atmosphere.