For a foodie traveller, finding a restaurant offering authentic and local cuisine can be a top priority. My journey seeking for the best and most authentic local experiences through food is constant and ongoing. I think it’s the most local experience is to visit a local family home where food is cooked homemade, but it may not be available for many travellers and in cities like Hanoi, I love exploring different restaurants that give similar vibe and dishes like at my friends’ hometowns.
I discovered a restaurant where the food is truly delicious and homemade style and my Vietnamese friends also confirmed that the dishes were really local. It was Cai Mam restaurant in the Old Quarter, Hanoi and I covered it in an article before so you can go read about it here.
After Cai Mam restaurant, I was searching for a new place for genuine Vietnamese home cuisine and I found one on Vietnamese Instagram account. All the pictures looked amazing, so I decided that I must go and try it out myself.
The restaurant is called Cửa Hàng Ăn uống Mậu dịch số 37 or Trade Shop #37. Mậu dịch means trade, which is about trading coupons for receiving goods and food supplies from the government in the old days. So this restaurant’s concept is based on that time period in history of Vietnam and the menus and decor are carefully selected for bringing nostalgia as well as Vietnamese local cuisine to both locals and foreigners.
Every bits and pieces of decorations are nostalgic objects of the time in history and they’ve done a tremendous job in creating the special atmosphere without overdoing it.
The menu was more extensive than I’d expected and for that reason, I think it’d be great if you go in a group of more than 3 people so that you can try many different dishes. While waiting for the food, I took the time to go around the restaurant and admire the little details and study the antique objects.
We ordered nem cuốn Mậu Dịch – fresh spring roll – as a starter, which was so refreshing. Instead of wrapping it with rice paper as most of us know as spring roll, they wrapped it with blanched spring onion, which according to my boyfriend is how his mum cooks and prepares spring rolls at home. The boiled meat, shrimp and freshest lettuce dipped in sweet and sour fish sauce were rich in flavour and texture. I really enjoyed this menu and I can say it was the best spring roll I’ve ever had in Vietnam.
For the main dishes, we ordered claypot braised pork, stir-fried bamboo shoots with crispy pork belly and tomato and tofu soup. The braised pork and tomato soup are common menus that could be found in other places as well, but they were really well cooked and yummy here.
The bamboo shoots with crispy pork belly was a new menu for me. I personally do not like the Vietnamese way of fermenting the bamboo shoots because of the very distinct smell, but texture-wise, I liked the combination of crispy meat and soft bamboo shoots.
When we asked for the bill, the staff came with a bill along with order coupons (picture above). She used the coupon book to note down the orders and these coupons are reminiscent of the tickets used by Vietnamese people to trade for goods from official storage house for people. So that was another little detail, which I loved.
If you’re in Hanoi and want to experience an original and historical meal, I highly recommend Trade Shop #37 to be on your to-eat list!
Address: 37 Nam Tràng, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Opening Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 21:00