Hai Hong: The Steamboat to Freedom
The entrance to the Collegetown favorite is recognizable by its yellow signage. Customers pass through its black doors into the eatery, arriving at wooden tables that stare into the restaurant’s open kitchen. A side wall divides the restaurant into two dining rooms co-serving Cantonese-influenced cuisine and Vietnamese specialties, and frequent patrons to the restaurant cross-order dishes from the two menus. The sidewalls are simply decorated with a Southeast Asian influence, exemplified by the woven bamboo patterns and the floor’s turmeric colored tiles. Here, owner Helen Wong serves a variety of authentic Vietnamese specialties created from her memories. Helen had left her home country of Vietnam to come to Ithaca as a refugee in 1979.