Eating in Hà Nội (Part 2)

Hà Nội changed a lot! My very first time in Hà Nội probably between 1992 or 1994. Hà Nội changed unrecognizably, some for good, some for very bad…I definitely miss the my first times there, when Hà Nội still peaceful and amazingly beautiful with the old images. Anyway back to my “foodie experience” in Hà Nội, it continues with something that I’d love to try…

Snails 

It’s very popular in Sài Gòn, it’s like a night hang-out place for the youth, if they love all kinds of snails. I tried few times but to be honest, I’m not a big fan. To me, it’s ok! But many of my friends love it.

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My friend ordered a bowl of snails, the vendor is preparing…
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Snails has been cooked with lemongrass, lemon leaves…
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Here you go…a freshly cooked snails, right from its shelter…dip it in the sauce and….go!

Sticky rice cake “Khúc” (Bánh Khúc)

One of popular traditional specialities in the North, I love almost everything with sticky rice so this cake is one of my favorites, we have similar thing in the South, but the one in Hà Nội is much better. The name “Khúc” comes from a kind of leaves that has been used during the preparation of the filling for this cake.

To keep the cakes very warm, especially during the cold weather in Hà Nội, the basket with cakes always covered with thick clothes, whenever the vendor opens, we can see the steam, feel the good smell.

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One of the most popular place for “bánh Khúc” in Hà Nội

Covered by sticky rice from the outside, inside we have a small cake made of leaves named “Khúc”, green bean and pork. The cake is served with the mixture of sesame, peanut and salt.

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One morning I was wandering near to the market, after a while I feel a bit thirsty, so I tried a popular and healthy soya milk made of different beans. I ordered the first glass of soya milk and black sesame, the second – the mixture of five beans: soya, black, red, green, white and soya!

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Soya milk with black sesame
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The flavorful drink of 5 beans: soya, black, red, green and white!

Hà Nội used to be very quiet, especially when the nigh falls. My friend and I took a walk around the old quarter and to our surprise, we found a whole street, full of eateries, drinking places…and big crowd of tourists, it reminds me very much the image of Bangkok, a famous city for the nigh crawlers!

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Grilled corn served with green onion sauce – one of favorite street foods
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The street is full of eateries, drinking places…till late at night, Hà Nội is really changing…

Back to “eating” tradition in Hà Nội, for the morning, beside the beef noddles – one of favorite breakfasts, we still have different choices, and one of them – popular among the “down-to-earth” people, white-collar people, blue-collar…sticky rice!

Sticky rice again? Yes, for many among us, sticky rice is one of the cheapest but can keep us full for long during the day. There’s a long list of what we can cook  with sticky rice: sticky rice with peanut, with green bean, with maïs, with pork floss…to sweet one like in the South, with coconut milk….

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The vendor is selling sticky rice with peanut

I was wondering what made people queuing like this? Just after the sticky rice? That’s so favorite? Then I got the answer from the hotel people, nearby, where I stay, they told me it’s very cheap, but good quality! I did try and to my surprise, with only 20,000 Vietnamese đồng I got a big pack of green bean sticky rice, for same amount of the money, in Sài Gòn, I may get less than half!

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and here you go – the long queue for the sticky rice in the morning!

This time, I stay only for few days in Hà Nội, I didn’t try many things that I wish. I didn’t go back to the famous tofu, rice noodles and fermented shrimp paste, I didn’t go back to rice noodles with snails…or even the beef noodle Lý Quốc Sư as you see the photo as below, the long queue…The beef noodles here are good but my recommendation, you should try the other beef noodles next to the old church, in my first part of this post, not very far from this place, to feel the difference. Or another place, extremely famous for the locals – Phở Bát Đàn! 

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Right in the center of the old quarter, this beef noodles brand seems popular to visitors

Today is the last day of the old year, year of Dog, and exactly at midnight – the very first hour of the Year of Pig, by Lunar calendar, so as tradition, in that holly moment – the connection from the old to the new year, we always made a wish – my wish for this year – everyone in good health, good spirit and happiness!

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