January 06, 2011

Fighting Winter Depression No. 2: Fast Food the Vietnamese Way

Hamy- Café-Foodstore-Fast Food

I’ve never been a sucker for weather talk. I usually think it eats up way too much of people’s time and energy. Yet living in Berlin has taught me some of it was just inevitable. For instance, it’s difficult to explain why your body is overwhelmed by positive vibes in spring or why you fall into a well known pattern of chronic depression in winter without talking about the weather.

And speaking of the weather: it’s cold, bleak and oppressive as we speak. Even without it I would have had enough reasons to reverberate into my usual winter depression, yet then again, the current drabness is not much of a help either. One can therefore understand how astonished I was to see that Hamy on Hasenheide still had its summer benches standing outside, inviting people to have a seat in the bitter cold. Needless to say, my non-masochistic (and some would say self-indulgent) nature was appalled by the very thought of spending time in sub-zero temperatures.

And yet, these benches did manage to strike a cord somewhere deep inside me. They suddenly reminded me of summer and of how full of life the place could be with the weather permitting. To be fair, I’ll never understand the charm of sitting outside on a street like Hasenheide, which is as loud as it is aesthetically displeasing. But for some reason Hamy has made people overlook both of these factors and sprawl all over the place. It has been around for a while, offering a limited number of Vietnamese dishes for very little money. Being low on the dosh (that month after Christmas and New Year’s) and feeling like having a warm soup, I decided it was time to check out Hamy’s winter clothing.

I was not surprised to discover it was nearly impossible to get a table, as the place was absolutely packed. However, as the place defines itself as a “fast food” restaurant, it also means one never gets to wait that long to get seated. Hamy’s insides are a bit less appealing than the outside: a small space with walls painted in radioactively disturbing colours of peach and orange. Again, it just added to the fast and cheap vibes.

We started with the house cocktail, described as a mixture of rum, banana, coconut milk and brown sugar for the price of 3.20 € for 0.2 l. It came in a glass with the straw stuck in the middle of a lush slice of grapefruit. Simplistic, yet not a bad idea. I like. The cocktail tasted like coconut milk with a bit of rum in it, which was a bit less exciting than what we had expected, but it wasn’t bad either. We continued to check out the rest of the menu. The concept is very simple: there are two daily dishes and a few other soups and salads – all for 4.90 €. We chose the Hamy Wan-Tan, which was just a chicken Pho with Wan-Tans and green stuff in it and the two daily dishes: Ghà Kho Gung (chicken breast in a mild peanut-coconut-milk sauce with rice and other vegetables) and Bún Mang Hanci (soup with thin rice noodles and chicken).

Wan Tan Soup
Ghà Kho Gung

The food came in promptly. I think we had not waited for more than two minutes when the dishes came out. The portions were not huge and would not be enough to satisfy me in a hungry mode, but they were more than enough for the price. The chicken dish was extremely good – with a strong taste of its pleasantly seasoned peanut sauce. There was very little chicken involved, but hey, what do you expect for 4.90 €? The wan-tan soup was also very good. The basic Pho was of a very good quality and its size was acceptable. The wan-tans were a bit less spectacular, with what tasted of instant filling. The daily soup was a bit more disappointing. Again, the basic Pho was very good, it was quite spicy, but its contents failed to inspire (well, there wasn’t much else other than unspectacular rice noodles and a few slices of chicken breast swimming around).

Hamy is probably not the place that will dazzle you with its splendid creations, but it delivers exactly what it promises: good quality “fast food” à la Vietnamienne. It costs very little and still remains very pleasing. If you feel like staying longer and eating more, try out Miss Saigon on Skalitzer Straße, but for a pleasant time out with friends, Hamy will be more than enough.

Overall mark:

Hamy - Café - Foodstore -Fast Food
Hasenheide 10, 10967 Berlin

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