Monday 21 April 2014

Hanoi Travel Part 5: The Tastes Of Hanoi

Away from home, I always look forward to taste and enjoy authentic local food enjoyed by the locals of the foreign place I am in. In my quest for these cuisines I often look out for huge crowds patronizing an eatery. I opine that the locals can't be that wrong as they know best where to find their best food unless it's a case of crowds attracting a fooled crowd. But then, it could also be the case where one's man's meat is another man's poison.
Street food is popular among the Hanoians as evidenced by the size of crowds patronizing these street food stalls. I was rather amused by the way the stalls are set up and the simplicity of furniture provided for diners. Food is usually prepared on the ground or on low tables. For diners, very small plastic tables and low plastic stools seem to be the norm.
Some even use stools as make do tables.
I explored the Old Quarter of Hanoi in search of authentic Hanoi cuisines.
Pho (pronounced as fuh) is a staple food in Hanoi. In the Old Quarters there are more stalls selling pho (noodles) than rice. 
Our first bowl of Pho Ga (chicken noodles) costs 30000VND  (RM5) - the cheapest meal we had during this trip. It was not bad but I still prefer our Malaysian Ipoh Kway Teow Soup anytime.
Another version of Pho Ga served for breakfast in our hotel. This tasted bland.
Our Halong Bay tour guide recommended Restaurant Pho 24 along Hang Khay Street. (Hang Khay is a street at the southern edge of Hoan Kiem Lake)
We paid RM10/bowl for this Pho Bo (beef noodles) at Restaurant Pho 24.  I like the extra vegetables accompanying it. Tasted OK
Despite dining in such a modest setting, the locals seem to be enjoying their meal of escargots and shellfish.
This is the proprietor of the shellfish stall with all her cooking utensils and stuff occupying the walkway.
This plate of mollusk (snail? escargots? not too sure) comes with an appetizing dipping sauce. It was chewy and nice. We paid 60000VND for this.
You can also get "Wanton" noodles in Hanoi. This vendor seemed to enjoy brisk sales and we were  among the patrons of her stall.
At 40000VND per bowl, a lot of things were put in - wantons, egg, fish cakes, dried pig skin, meat slices and lots of chives and yellow noodles. Excellent soup!
One of our most unforgettable meal was at a roadside stall in Quang Trung Street (pho Quang Trung).
A meal of fresh salad, Vietnamese vermicelli,  fried Vietnamese spring rolls, papaya soup with bbq meat patties. The soup was unique and tantalizing.
Cha Ca La Vong at No 14 Cha Ca Street was recommended by a blogger. I thought it must be good as the street formerly known as Hang Son Street is now called Cha Ca Street because of this famed restaurant.
It was not fully packed when we arrived for dinner. The patrons were mostly the locals.
Cha Ca La Vong only sells a one-dish meal, that is pan-fried turmeric fish with dill which is served with plain vermicelli.
The fish and dill were freshly pan-fried in a thick layer of oil. By the time it was done the dish was soaking in oil. I didn't expect the dish to be so oily but 'never try never know'.
Eaten with some accompanying tangy sauce and roasted peanuts, this meal tasted OK except that it was very oily. It was quite expensive too. It cost VND170000/person and all we got were just a few pieces of fish. A place I wouldn't want to come back again. 
These coconuts were sold along the walkway. 
The juice was incredibly sweet and refreshing.
We even tried the porridge with pig's innards at a street stall. This costs 40000VND. The innards were so tough we couldn't chew them.
Boiled crabs at 40000VND each - the crabs were so sweet.
Satay sold at the night market at 10000VND each - can't beat the Malaysian satay.
We stumbled upon a lane (Pho Hang Giay) off Hang Giay Street that specialised in BBQ beef.
The BBQ set consist of beef, pineapple, brinjal, sweet potatoes, straw mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and onions.
It was a do it yourselves BBQ.
Here's our grilled beef, all ready for consumption. It was served with vietnamese vermicelli and some accompanying sauces. This meal was cheap - only 160000VND for 2 persons.
This is a rice meal we had at Trang Ann. The specialty of this restaurant is the mountain goat dish. It was a nice but not fantastic.
We found this place by chance during our walking tour. Located at No 35 Trang Tien Road, Kem Trang Tien is an ice cream kiosk selling locally made ice creams. It must have been a favorite hangout for the Vietnamese youth as they come in droves on their motorbikes, enjoyed their ice creams over friendly chats with their companions before riding off again. 
 The most popular flavour is vanilla. Each cone costs 12000VND.
 The texture is not fine but tasted OK. There are many kiosks called Kem Trang Tien around the Old Quarters but these must have been the fake ones as they tasted different. Nevertheless the fake ones we tried tasted better than the one at 35 Trang Tien St.
We had our last meal in Old Town Hotel before leaving for the airport. 
That was a very nice farewell lunch indeed.

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