A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.


Posted date:  July 23, 2006

OK, this is going to be a big one. I just got back from six days in Hanoi, Vietnam and have a lot to share. I’ve been to Vietnam before, but never Hanoi, and found it to be one of the craziest and most intense, but also most photogenic places I’ve ever been. The food scene was definately interesting, but I think Graham at Noodlepie would probably agree with me if I said it wasn’t as diverse or delicious as Saigon’s. Nonetheless, it’s still Vietnam, which invariably means good eats.

Probably the most famous Vietnamese dish of all is in fact a Hanoi dish:


Yes, pho. This beef noodle soup is available almost everywhere, from shops:


to the streets:


It’s popular for breakfast, but I prefered this dish, which here in Thailand is known as khao kriap paak maw:


The dish is made by spreading rice flour and water mixture over a hot surface:


and the fresh “noodle” that results is then filled with pork and served with the dipping sauce and veggies seen above. Utterly delicious.

Other than pho, undoubtedly the most common dish in Hanoi is bun cha, grilled pork served with sides of rice noodles, fresh herbs and a sweet/sour dipping sauce. This dish can be found at virtually every corner in the city:


as well as at proper restaurants, this one in the Old Quarter:


A similar dish is made with chim, pigeon, this on Ta Hien street, which Graham refers to as “Pigeon Street”!


I love morning markets, and a unusual one could be found on Pho Hang Be in the Old Quarter. The weird thing about this market is that at exactly 7 AM, all of the vendors suddenly got up and ran away! Where they went and why I’m still not sure, but it made for some great photos:



Other things seen at this morning market were silkworm worms:




and herbs:


A more or less stationary market is the Dong Xuan market, north of the Old Quarter:






Or if you chose, the market simply comes to you:



If you’re thirsty after all this, then have a glass of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice:


Or a glass of beer at one of the many, many, many bia hoi (“draught beer”) joints:


Or if you’re hungry, have a dish of deep-fried eels:


or maybe some other seafood:



Some more, not entirely food-related photos from Hanoi can be seen at this Flickr slideshow, or at this page.

2 Comments for Hanoi

Dear Austin,
By chance I got your page and have spent most of my time to read all your entries. I’m a Vietnamese and I’m working for a Thailand company … that’s why I found this blog way sooooooo kool and interesting :”)
I just want to leave this comment to let you know a short story about the ” herbs ” at the above picture. Actually it’s not the normal herbs for cooking, it’s a very special thing in our culture, tit’s the betel leaves.
Many decades ago, the Viet has a folk story about this leave… In brief, there had a twins, they lost their parents and grown up together. When the elder brother got married, these 3 of them still lived together. But the elder doubted that his younger brother had an affair with his wife and also the rumors spread out the village…
The younger brother was so upset and he thought that he was the reason why his brother and sister-in-law had problems so he left the house and went to the forest.
Unfortunately, he got an accident when trying to pass over the river and God made him a huge limestone.
After find out the truth, the elder brother came to find him and when he went along the river and realized the shape of the stone looked like his brother’s back, he cried out and prayed God to made he die so that she can stay with his brother. He became an areca-nut tree, stayed beside the stone…
The wife went to the forest, too… to find her husband. When she find out the stone and the areca-nut tree, she knew that everything’s ended so she also prayed God to let her die. She became the betel tree.
The people of the village was very sorry when they heard the news, and after that, they take a little grinded limestone, combine with betel leaf and areca-nut to make a mixture of chewy, rosy dish.
The meaning of this dish is : people must believe their beloveds in whatsover situation and this dish is used like the forever commitment between lovers, that they will stay close together ever after.
Nowadays, in every engagements ceremony in Vietnam, people from the groom still take areca-nut and betel leaves, combines with wine, fruits, fried pig, tobacco, sweets and cookies … as the gift and give them to the parents of the bride as a start of their children’s relationship.

Phew, too long huh …
Anyway, it’s nice to know you here and wish you keep up bloggin’ … You rocks !!!

[…] sausage and a sweet/sour dipping sauce. They’re tasty, although not nearly as nice as those I’ve had in Hanoi, and make a yet another great breakfast I wish we had in […]

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