This was something I had been looking forward to for years, after jealously drooling over a friend’s foodporn from Vietnam. Well, finally made it and was ready to eat!
Our hotel in Hanoi, The Essence Hotel, arranged this tour for us. We opted for the lunchtime tour and the guide met us at 11:00 am and we set out on foot to walk and eat our way around the ancient quarter.
First stop, Banh Cuon Thanh Van. Banh Cuon is one of the most popular traditional dishes in Vietnam and supposedly the most delicious ones are in Hanoi. It is a very thin rice flour pancake made from fragrant rice soaked overnight before being ground into a paste. Women make these pancakes street side.
The paste is spread onto a boiler pot covered with cheese cloth and steamed. It is scooped off with giant bamboo sticks and rolled with minced pork or chicken, fried onions, mushrooms and cut into pieces. These are garnished with shrimp powder and cilantro then dipped into a sweet and sour fish sauce and Oh. My. God.
This recipe has been in the proprietor’s family for generations. Very cool.
Bun Bo is rice noodles served with stir fried beef, bean sprouts, lettuce, crispy onion, green papaya and you can spice it up at the table with hot sauce (yes!), vinegar, limes, etc. Another unique and delicious dish that was unlike anything I have ever eaten.
I should note that just about every restaurant we went to was all locals who eat at tiny tables with little plastic stools that are literally inches from the ground. I loved the authentic no fuss experience.
Next, fried rice pancake, Banh Xeo.
Our next stop was a place that served crunchy eel in eel broth with vermicelli and herbs such as basil and cilantro.
We had this little snack from a street vendor….rice batter dipped deep fried banana.
Now we were supposed to have the main dish. Is he kidding…we had already eaten so much.
This was rice cooked with mung bean which has a surprisingly delicious flavor. Served with free range chicken and spicy pickled cucumbers. This was one of those times when your stomach is about to burst yet you cannot stop shoveling the deliciousness into your mouth.
I couldn’t wait to get back to hotel and enjoy a food coma nap but the guide mentioned dessert…
We had seen egg coffee on menus and thought…huh? Well…this was dessert and it was astoundingly tasty. A farmer invented it by mixing an egg yolk with the condensed milk he put in his coffee. This cafe was owned by the inventor’s family. It tasted like custard mixed in your coffee.
Finally, I was permitted to enjoy well earned food coma!
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