Fanny’s seems to be synonymous with Hanoi. Before I travelled to Vietnam I had seen numerous mentions of it in travel guides, not to mention videos of people sampling the creamy iced delights in a range of flavours (durian fruit being the most unappealing, apparently). So I wasn’t surprised when I got to Vietnam and several of my new-found travelling friends had also heard of it. Unfortunately the branch in Saigon seemed to totally elude us (although to be honest, we never really went looking for it; we were too busy drinking beer). But as Hanoi turned out to be warmer than we had anticipated, we decided a cooling ice cream treat would be just the ticket. Luckily, the Hanoi parlour is located on a street facing HoanKiemLake, which is where we had had lunch earlier on the day in question and so we were still in the vicinity. We stepped in to the air conditioned, very Westernized-looking shop and took our seats, salivating at the thought of what is supposed to be the best ice cream in Vietnam.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. The Vietnamese aren’t exactly known for their ice cream. But after you’ve spent any amount of time in a country which really doesn’t specialise in desserts other than fruit (“mmmmm, oranges again……yay”), the cravings can quickly creep up on you. A gelateria in Naples this was not, but our cravings for sugary goodness allowed us to overlook this fact. I have to say, I was sorely disappointed. Not only were the prices pretty high by Vietnam standards, but I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about the flavour combinations of the sundaes (probably because I had just had a big lunch, but we’ll overlook that for now). My dining companions all seemed to feel the same. I had thought my time in Vietnam had made me into a cheapskate when I initially balked at the prices, but they seemed to be expressing the same surprise, making me feel slightly better (although not much, that lunch didn’t seem to be settling so well on last night’s bia hoi). In the end we ordered a measly amount. I chose a small sundae from the kids menu. This in itself is a first; anyone who knows me will know that I love desserts and would never order a meagre child-sized portion. It was a Mickey Mouse sundae, which was basically a scoop of chocolate ice cream with a humorous chocolate button face sat on a bed of squirty cream and fruit salad. The cuteness I could appreciate. But it still left a sour taste in my mouth. The reality of Fanny’s had definitely not lived up to the hype.
Another of my companions also ordered the ‘Mickey’, whilst a couple of others just ordered a double scoop combination of flavours from the menu. These turned up in paper cups (similar to those you get in the cinema) and the ice cream was already half melted. Big fail. For the price, they at least expected a nice ice cream glass and proper spoon.
All in all I’d say that if you’re craving ice cream and are willing to splash out on a dessert then Fanny’s would be worth the trip. But unfortunately it seems as though the chain (as it has now become) relies on this kind of attitude from willing tourists to keep it going. If it’s yummy (and cheaper) desserts you’re looking for, head to Hoi An, which has a great range of patisseries and coffee shops.
Note from author: I in no way consider myself to be a food critic, nor do I regularly write reviews on places I have eaten on my travels, but felt compelled to write this post because of all of the good things I had heard about this particular ice cream chain. The comments and opinions are my own and not my fellow companions’ or anyone who may be in any way connected to my blog. I can only comment on my personal experience at the Hanoi branch; the shop in Saigon may be superior.