Taste of Vietnam – Part 1

When it comes to Vietnamese food, pho will definitely come to mind.  Apart from this national dish of Vietnam, one can try other Vietnamese food.  I managed a mini food adventure trying out the different Vietnamese dishes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City recently.  In this post, I will be focusing on the few eateries I visited while in Hanoi.

Trang Tien Alley

While doing research for the trip, I came across Trang Tien Alley or Ngo Trang Tien.  Trang Tien Alley is located near Hanoi Opera House.

Trang Tien Alley

This narrow alley of about 100m packed a dozen or so eateries offering a variety of food from sandwich to rice and noodles which make it a favourite lunchtime place with students and office workers.

A sandwich or banh mi stall at the alley

We decided to have our meal at shop no 15 which offers a variety of noodles dishes such as bun cha (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat), bun rieu (a Vietnamese crab and tomato based noodle soup) and mien tron (a dry glass noodle dish).  The shop has a translated menu in English which I used to help in ordering.

Shop selling various types of noodle dishes

We sampled 2 different types of noodles – mien cua dau and bun tron cha.  The first dish was glass noodle in a crab and tomato based soup.  It was topped with fried tofu, fried onions and water convolvulus.  The soup was sweet with a tinge of sour taste due to the tomato.

Mien cua dau which cost VND20,000

The BBQ pork and pork patties were well marinated and tasted good.  The barbequed meat combined well with the bland vermicelli.

Bun tron cha which cost VND30,000

Pho Suong

Of course, pho is a must when in Vietnam.  This shop near our hotel in Old Quarter was always filled with people whenever we walked past.  So we gave it a try.  Needless to say the beef pho (pho bo) was really good.

The piping hot pho came with generous amount of beef slices topped with lots of spring onion.  The soup was clear and sweet.  And you must remember to squeeze some lime juice into the soup which gave it a refreshing taste.

Pho Suong located in Trung Yen Alley or Ngo Trung Yen

Cha Ca La Vong

Cha ca is a fish dish where pieces of fish are pan-fried with turmeric and dill, served with cold noodles, dills, peanuts and chilies.

To try this dish, one must visit Cha Ca La Vong, the place where the dish was invented more than 100 years ago by the Doan family.  The dish was so famous that the street where the shop is located changed its name from Hang Son Street to Cha Ca Street!

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant

The restaurant can be easily missed with its unassuming external appearance and it looks like it has not changed since the first day it opened for business.  Diners need to climb a steep narrow wooden staircase to get to the upper floor dining room.  And the wooden floor creaked as one stepped on it.

Ordering here is straightforward as the restaurant serves ONLY ONE dish – cha ca.  All you need to decide is how many servings.  Once seated the staff will place rice vermicelli, fresh vegetables, chili sauce and roasted peanuts on the table.

Next the main dish was served in a small pan placed on a burner to keep it hot.  The staff tossed in some spring onions, coriander and dills and mixed all the ingredients together.

To enjoy this dish, put some rice vermicelli in a bowl, add in pieces of fish and tossed them with some of the oil and chili sauce.

My verdict – well the dish was quite tasty but it was expensive.  For the price of VND170,000 per person, the portion was very small and the ingredients used are not that costly.  Definitely not worth the money paid.

New Day Restaurant

Dinner on our last night in Hanoi was at the New Day Restaurant as it was a short walk from our hotel.  The restaurant was quite busy when we arrived around 6 o’clock.

The restaurant has an English menu

We ordered 4 dishes including chicken pho and fried spring rolls.  The pho wasn’t as good as the one we had at Pho Suong.  Food was good and service was quite fast.  The cost for the dinner was VND241,000 inclusive of 2 cans of Coke.

Clockwise (L to R) : Chicken pho, fried spring rolls, stir-fried mixed vegetables and fried rice

Wide variety of dishes all ready to serve to diners

Bun Doc Mung

Bun Doc Mung is a dish usually eaten for breakfast in Hanoi.  We tried this popular dish at stall 2C Ta Hien Alley in the Old Quarter.

 

Two ladies sitting in front of a big steaming pot of broth and a glass case were busy dishing out bowls of bun doc mung.

A bowl of bun doc mung consists of rice vermicelli served in a pork based broth with pork meatballs mixed with mushroom, thin slices of pork and topped with giant elephant ear or doc mung (a type of vegetable).

A bowl of bun doc mung is a good way to start the day

The broth was clear yet very tasty and the meatballs were tender and delicious.  Squeezing some lime juice into the broth enhanced the taste of the broth.  The cost for a bowl was VND30,000.

Next, my food adventure in Ho Chi Minh City.  So stay tuned.

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