Burger Bound

Over-achiev­ing Hun­gry Bunny serves top notch burg­ers and American com­fort food

Oi Vietnam - - Wine & Dine - Text by Michael Arnold Images by Ngoc Tran

AN OUT­POST OF AMERICAN com­fort food just a short hop away from any lo­ca­tion where the menu prices would have to com­pen­sate for higher rents, Hun­gry Bunny (1 Nguyen Cuu

Van, D1) is a jewel-in-the-rough venue you'll def­i­nitely want to hunt down, if only to get in early be­fore this takes off as a fash­ion­able nightspot away from the main drag. It’s neatly tucked away just off a twist in a lesser-used thor­ough­fare that cuts through the area be­tween Dis­tricts 1 and 2, and those who are ac­tively seek­ing it out will be am­ply re­warded by gen­uinely tasty, home-style heart-of-the-USA dishes in a clean, strik­ing venue sur­rounded by unas­sum­ing lo­cal busi­nesses and beer dives. Hun­gry Bunny’s black and white in­te­rior is evenly lit by street-lantern wall fix­tures with heavy in­can­des­cent bulbs and a funky ceil­ing in­stal­la­tion made with of­f­cen­ter rings of neon: the restau­rant’s real gem, how­ever, is its cage-con­cept rooftop bar, which has yet to open but is likely to be­come vi­rally pop­u­lar once the fin­ish­ing touches are made.

The ca­sual diner is more or less a one-man-show fronted by Danny Cuong, a re­cent re­turnee from the US for whom en­trepreneur­ship in the F&B busi­ness has been the an­swer to his own fas­ci­nat­ing ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis—ask him for more de­tails. The restau­rant serves as the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion to the skills he ac­quired as a kitchen hand and Star­bucks barista back in the States, as well as his self-pro­fessed love for all things burger, from Mc­Don­ald’s through to gold leaf New York. Hun­gry Bunny is Danny’s se­ri­ous at­tempt to make his pen­chant for American-style gourmet burg­ers a le­git­i­mate busi­ness— and with the right am­bi­ence and ser­vice, a fo­cused, well-ex­e­cuted menu, and an en­thu­si­as­ti­cally-re­al­ized in­te­rior de­sign, he’s clearly got all the el­e­ments lined up in the right places.

It’s a tight ship for now, and the short lineup of dishes on of­fer are only the first draft for an ex­panded range promised to be in the works. The ad­van­tage to this is that the con­densed list of avail­able op­tions plays to the chef’s strengths—con­fi­dently and ex­pertly pre­pared, the taste and qual­ity of ev­ery­thing that comes out of the kitchen is guar­an­teed.

We take some sim­ple starters. A cream of mush­room soup (VND65,000) with its toasty crou­tons has a pleas­ingly warm, but­tery char­ac­ter and smooth con­sis­tency to it. The wait­ing staff rec­om­mend a slightly un­ortho­dox American cobb salad (VND130,000) in a gen­er­ous-enough size to serve as a main; it is over­whelm­ingly clean-tast­ing with its av­o­cado and crispy ro­maine let­tuce en­hanced by a whiff of blue cheese and big chunks of chicken and ba­con—and comes served with a special house ranch dress­ing in a gravy jug that you'll want to ap­ply lav­ishly.

Hun­gry Bunny should be judged first and fore­most for its burg­ers, and it’s cer­tain that din­ers who stick to the sig­na­ture range are going to find them­selves well-fed. The ham­burg­ers are heavy and clas­si­cally built with bulging beef pat­ties bal­anced by their salad el­e­ments. We had a very re­fined Ba­con & Blue (VND140,000), a richly pun­gent cre­ation with crispy ba­con, blue cheese crum­ble, tomato, spring mix and blue cheese aioli—as well as a Ba­con Club­house (VND135,000) with a sweet house cock­tail sauce and caramelized onions, soaked in a mild melted white ched­dar. Th­ese are heavy burg­ers, with thick 160-gram pat­ties of pressed minced beef thor­oughly in­fused with their re­spec­tive cheeses that hold to­gether firmly in the burger and break up eas­ily in the mouth, ra­di­at­ing their la­tent heat. Hun­gry Bunny burg­ers hold their own against gourmet burg­ers twice their price served in more up­mar­ket lo­ca­tions; they’re both au­then­tic in taste and cre­ative in their in­gre­di­ents, and come served with some chunky hand-cut fries in jack­ets per­fectly-pre­pared with­out overuse of oil and paired with a pleas­ingly in­tense ketchup.

Don’t be con­cerned if you're not up for a burger—you'll be well-pleased with a se­lec­tion from the sev­eral pas­tas on of­fer. We tried a flaw­less spaghetti Bolog­nese (VND125,000) with a wel­com­ingly fa­mil­iar and bal­anced meat sauce that stood out as a con­tra­dic­tion to the restau­rant's more ur­ban sur­round­ings.

The restau­rant is also said to put on a good mac & cheese and creamy chicken al­fredo, while list­ing a few in­ter­est­ing sand­wich op­tions as well.

Hun­gry Bunny will re­ally get kick­ing once the rooftop’s ready so that guests will be able to fol­low up hearty meals like th­ese with open-air craft beers and glasses of wine. Ice creams and desserts are promised to be fea­ture menu items in the near fu­ture, mak­ing this a venue to keep an eye on. For now, you wouldn't be ill-ad­vised to hit Danny up for a cup of his very good cof­fee: hav­ing in­vested in a su­perb ma­chine as well as some oneon-one coach­ing to undo the Star­bucks au­tom­a­ton train­ing, the K-Cof­fee brew is worth a visit to Hun­gry Bunny in and of it­self.

Ba­con club­house

American cobb salad

Ba­con & blue burger

Spaghetti bolognse

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