Slice of Vietnam: Q&A with You Hanoi Me’s Jason Whitelaw


You Hanoi Me is the city’s most recent and most exciting eatery, bought to you by the remarkable hospitality team Bar Bar Black Sheep who have also tingled our tastebuds with other culinary ventures like LOUIS Champagne Bar and Red Light District.

 

With Director Jason Whitelaw at the helm, Bar Bar Black Sheep has created an authentic slice of Vietnam right in the heart of Victoria Street’s hospitality scene – and we’re willing to bet it’s nothing like you’ve ever experienced before.
We caught up with Jason to chat about this magnificent culinary masterpiece and what’s next on their agenda.

 

Tell us about the story behind You Hanoi Me. What was the inspiration behind the name and the food?
Following a trip to Hanoi I came up with this concept to complete our offering in ‘The Vicinity’ – I like to do things that are unique and not another ‘Pacific Rim’ offerings. I scoured the markets and a lot of restaurants to get as many ideas on flavours, cooking methods, presentation and décor – then I put my own spin on it in collaboration with the team.


Can you tell us about yourself, and your relationship with You Hanoi Me?
I am a builder and developer but a publican at heart. Out of all my businesses, the hospitality ones present the most challenges, but it is exciting and rewarding when you see people enjoying our hospitality. I truly want to make Christchurch a great place to live, work and play which is the driving force behind my ventures.


What would you say makes You Hanoi Me ‘the most exciting Vietnamese dining experience in town’?
There is nothing else like it. We provide a modern twist on traditional Vietnamese dishes but have incorporated many other dishes and flavours from my travels. It is upbeat and fresh.


For those who don’t know, what would you say were the most important aspects of Vietnamese cuisine which sets it apart from other Asian fare?
The use of fragrances, limes, basil and mint are a key focus of Vietnamese dishes. There is a very large French influence on a lot of cuisine in Hanoi, however we purposefully chose not to incorporate that into our menu.


What are your most popular dishes and cocktails?
The Clay Pot Pork Belly, Braised Beef Cheek and Fresh Spring Rolls are the top sellers. My personal favourite is the Disco Eggs; you won’t find anything else like this dish in town. We sell a lot of Asahi and the crowd favourite on the cocktail list would have to be the Blueberry and Kafier Phojito.


You’re part of the team behind LOUIS Champagne Bar and Red Light District. We hear you guys have another restaurant coming to the city very soon – The Athens Yacht Club. Can you tell us about it?
We are on track to open the Athens Yacht Club in the former Saggio di Vino space in late May. We have found there to be a limited Greek offering in Christchurch when it is such a popular cuisine and I think the site lends itself well to this concept. We have done extensive research and visited the likes of Jim’s Greek Tavern in Melbourne and the Apollo in Sydney and believe we have a great product that will be embraced by locals.