Fans of Vietnamese food and culture should rejoice at a new venture in Randolph: a shopping plaza aimed at providing everything a Southeast Asian immigrant family might need.
Owner Uy Nguyen opened the Hai Lua restaurant and supermarket in hopes of eventually creating an Asian shopping plaza, similar to the Kam Man Plaza in Quincy, at the 35,000-square-feet, 8-acre site on Randolph’s main street.
Pictured: Uy Nguyen, owner/chef/contractor of the Hai Lua Restaurant and Plaza Next
After six months of construction, former Zeppy’s Baigel Bakery’s retail space has been transformed into an attractive and spacious restaurant that caters to Asian tastes. Nguyen said Hai Lua is the name of a popular Vietnamese character known as the “farmer guy” and evokes an image of a hard-working rice farmer.
Pictured: Minh Nguyen, 9, left with his cousin, Ethan Nguyen, 10, enjoyed smoothies with their lunch at the Hai Lua Restaurant. Next
Nguyen said the menu focuses on southern Vietnamese cuisine, which is characterized by its liberal use of vibrant and flavorful herbs and preference for sweeter flavors.
Pictured: The vermicelli with grilled beef, pork and shrimp Next
There are 86 seats on two levels. A waterfall is the focal point of the street-level dining space, while the balcony level has a karaoke machine tucked into a corner. The kitchen is in the back of the upper level.
Pictured: Nguyen prepared the sizzling Vietamese pizza with shrimp. Next
Interesting starters include the sizzling Vietnamese mini pizza with shrimp ($9), one of the most popular dishes from the south. These savory pancakes are made from rice flour and coconut milk, and filled with crumbled mung bean paste and shrimp. The hot pancakes are served with a plate of vegetables for wrapping and a sweet dipping sauce.
Pictured: The sizzling Vietmanese mini pizza with shrimp. Next
Also on the menu isa large bowl of pho with everything including steak, tripe, tendon, brisket, and meatballs for $8.
Pictured: Karen Silva and her husband, Greg Silva of Randolph and regular customers enjoyed a bowl of pho. Next
Wash down a meal with the choices of hot or iced tea, or a smoothie ($3 to $3.50). The red bean smoothie was especially refreshing, thick and lightly sweetened.
Pictured: A red bean smoothie served at the Hai Lua Restaurant Next
Children of all ages would enjoy the dishes under the wraps section of the menu. All come with mixed greens, mint leaves, 10 rice wrappers, and sweet fish sauce for dipping.
Pictured: Evan Nguyen, enjoyed a durian smoothie. Next
While some people enjoy eating organ meats and indigenous flavors, less adventurous diners could find the dishes at Hai Lua challenging. Nguyen said he is initially focusing on Asian customers seeking traditional dishes, but he believes that “if we have good food and good service, we’ll build a reputation.”
Pictured: Nguyen stood in the produce section of his Asian market inside the Hai Lua Plaza. Back to the beginning
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