Urbanist Hanoi

Back Eat & Drink » Street Food » Ngõ Nooks: Kamon – Authentic Japanese Cuisine Served With a Side of Persian Rugs

Ngõ Nooks: Kamon – Authentic Japanese Cuisine Served With a Side of Persian Rugs

Tucked away amongst a row of cafes on Van Phuc Street is a curious Japanese restaurant – beneath the bright red KAMON sign above its entrance and the usual menus offering sashimi and sushi is an altogether more suspect list of items for sale: Iranian Persian Carpets?

Irasshaimase!” says Iranian owner Mehrdad, the Japanese word for ‘welcome’ as I enter. He also goes by the name Honda-san, which is more often used by Mai, his Vietnamese wife – although they only converse in Japanese.

At one end of the bar, I notice a giant teppan (flat top steel grill) for preparing dishes like yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) and okonomiyaki (savory Japanese style pancakes). Nearer the seating area a fridge showcases fresh sashimi and sushi, but then Mehrdad points to a delightfully incongruous display of Persian rugs before holding one aloft with obvious pride.

At this point, I’m still fairly baffled by the establishment’s unavoidable cultural fusions. Mehrdad explains that he’s from Iran, but he met his wife Mai in Japan after living there for over a decade. They moved back to Hanoi in 2008, and the fact that they still converse almost entirely in Japanese is a constant source of surprise to customers. The restaurant itself has actually existed since the late 1990s, but they took over in 2009 when the original owner returned to Japan.

In addition to running the restaurant, Mehrdad doubles as a rug salesman. The Persian carpets, rarely seen in Vietnam, are imported directly from Iran. He says they’re always a hot topic for conversations with customers, and he’s glad to share his enthusiasm. Many who visit are serious buyers, others are just looking for something a little different.

The restaurant itself seems small at first, but an area towards the rear is filled with horigotatsu (traditional Japanese style sunken seating) and beyond those are secluded dining areas for those who prefer to eat together in a little more privacy.

I choose Kansai-style okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake comprised of batter mixed with eggs, cabbage and sliced pork that gets “grilled to my liking” – the literal translation of the dish’s name. It’s then topped with dry seaweed, fish flakes, mayonnaise and their signature sweet brown sauce. We wash the meal down with a few glasses of cooling trà đá, although rice wines from Japan, Korea and Vietnam are also available.

Perhaps it’s the unusualness and warm customer service that make this melting pot of a place so endearing and appealing. It’s not just me, either – Kamon is frequented as much by Japanese businessmen as other foreigners or local Vietnamese craving a delicious meal in a slightly bizarre, multicultural setting.

Arigatou gozaimashita,” Mehrdad calls out in thanks as I leave, and I can’t help wondering if I should have bought one of those exquisite carpets. 

Find Kamon at 104 Van Phuc Street. Opening hours are 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 10pm. 


To sum up:

Taste: 5/5

Price: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Friendliness: 5/5

Location: 5/5


Lewis is part Japanese, part American, and part craft beer. Curiosity often takes him to places that satisfy his stomach.


104 Van Phuc Street, Ba Dinh


Related Articles:

 - Ngõ Nooks: The Delectable Comfort of Xuan Dieu's No-Name Bánh Đa Trộn

 - Ngõ Nooks: Reng Reng, a Welcome as Cold as the Coffee at Hanoi's Most Idiosyncratic Cafe

 - Hẻm Gems: Bún Cá With a Twist That Takes Guts to Try

Related Articles

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: A Blissful Fish Feast at Bun Ca Sam Cay Si

As hot as it gets, Hanoi’s scorching summer is no match for delightful fish rolls and refreshing sour soup.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: A Steaming Bowl of Mỳ Vằn Thắn to Ward off Winter’s Chill

The Old Quarter’s labyrinthine streets contain so many eateries that newcomers can easily feel overwhelmed.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: At Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy, a Broth That Bridges Tastes

In only three places have I enjoyed truly sumptuous bowls of bún bò giò heo: in its hometown of Hue, in Hoi An and at Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy in Hanoi.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: At Bun Ca Thai Binh, Succulent Snakehead Infused With Turmeric and Cashew

When a friend of mine returned home after living abroad last year, he longed for a bowl of bún cá. I suggested the classic Hanoi dish, with satisfyingly oily deep-fried fish, but he had other ideas&nb...

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Authentic Bánh Cuốn That Took a Century to Perfect

Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh is nearly a century old, and both the eatery’s name and the authenticity of the food they serve stem from the same source: the culinary wisdom of Grandma Hoang.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Autumnal Golden Hours Are the Key Ingredient in Cô Thoa’s Bún Bò Nam Bộ

Hanoi’s fascination with bún is endless. There are more varieties in this city than anywhere else in Vietnam. Bún has a lot more to offer than phở, especially as it can be served cool and dry, as seen...