Thinking of a "pahabol" (an add on) for this day's hashtag, I thought of blogging about the dishes I tried in Hanoi. :) First of all, can I just say that I love the hostel I stayed at? Aside from one of the receptionist telling me how beautiful I am everyday (he should very well be my boyfriend you know, haha!), the staffs really took care of their solivagant female guest that is me. :P On day 1, I didn't have dollars to exchange with my Philippine peso (silly of me to have neglected this fact) so they lent me the money until I have found the means to produce my cash. So I really recommend Little Hanoi Diamond hotel for your stay in Hanoi. Website here. :)
On my first day, I was already briefed about the ins and outs of the city. They handed me this before I set out on my tour:
I got 3/5 from the list so I thought it'd make a good #threesomethursday post. Hehehe. :P
#1 Pho. Noodle lover or not, it'd be a crime not to try an authentic Vietnamese noodle in Hanoi. :D The motorcycle driver took me to item #1 on the list (New Day Restaurant) and it's Tripadvisor recommended as seen in one of their walls (though I didn't really do much research on the dining part). Upon reviewing my menu, what surprised me was how Laasi (my favorite Indian yogurt drink) is available in this restaurant and later found out that it's a standard offered beverage in Hanoi. I didn't get to find out more about this though. I always thought it's an exclusive Indian drink. Now there's something to look forward to in Vietnamese restaus here in PH since I don't get to try them that often.
I don't cook so therefore I shall copy the contents of this food from Wikipedia. Haha! Pho consists of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles, a few herbs and meat. I liked how tender the meat was in this restaurant. And I think it made a good combination with my Mango Laasi. :)
Vietnamese is a tonal language so be careful if you say Pho because it also has the same spelling with another Pho which means street! I learned this from the motorcycle driver when I asked him about the street signs.
Another reason why this restau was memorable was because I met a Chinese friend here from HK. :) His name is Nathan. Not sure if it was common in this restau to pair up strangers but he was asked to sit infront of me since the house was quite full that time. Most of the diners were groups of foreign people and after a few minutes of sitting across each other in silence, we realized we might just as well break the ice and join the chatter inside the restaurant. Boy, we did talk about a loooot of things I almost didn't feel like leaving the restau. Hahaha!!!
#2 bánh cuốn Thanh Trì What amazes me in Vietnamese food is how their rice noodles appear in different shapes and sizes. Haha! Just look at this roll rice steamed paper cake. I tried this at a restaurant near the National Museum of Vietnamese History on my 3rd day. Something that errr, Nathan recommended me to check. LOL!
This is just a very simple dish and it is very light almost like a salad so I didn't feel guilty eating it since I tend to avoid any food that has "rice" in it. Haha! If you look at it, you'll realize that the rice preparation is quite something. According to Wiki, it is thin and delicate and made by steaming a slightly fermented rice batter on a cloth which is stretched over a pot of boiling water. For whatever that means. Hey it has the word cloth in it, maybe I can try to understand it. Hahaha!!!
#3 Cha Ca (grilled fish). The experience in Cha Ca La Vong restaurant is one of a kind. I went there with one of my regular Japanese student from my part time job who was coincidentally also in Hanoi for a business trip. :) He's been in and out of Hanoi for the last six months for work so I kind of expected him to know better where to dine best without consulting my little note above. I was thinking Tim-san would take me to a Japanese restaurant but to my delight, his co-worker recommended to him item #5 in my list. Yey! It's a Lonely Planet recommendation for budget travelers and the experience is like I said, a bit unusual. As soon as we were led upstairs to a place that looked like an ordinary old house, we sat in one of the tables to find out a small note in English saying that they serve only one dish which is of course the Cha Ca (fish grilled on your table with turmeric and drill, served with cold noodles and peanuts).
For someone who hasn't held the frying pan for years (God I should really get into cooking!!!!), it was really intimidating when that "object" was placed infront of me along with all the other ingredients. (But in all fairness to me, I can cook in shabu-shabu especially in those restaurants with helpful notes and tips on cooking or when I'm with my parents who love that dish. Haha!) But thankfully though, the old woman staff (who looks err quite grumpy) will cook it for you. Yessssssss!!! Hahaha!!! So all I did was take pictures and nom nom nom! :P
Aside from the experience, this is really recommended as the dish was delightful and delicious!!! I overheard from the next table that the place really gets crowded at night and I was thankful that we came in early around 5 to 6 PM where we could have a seat, enjoy our meal and have a good talk. :)
So there. Of course I did get to try other dishes from the hostel, the cruise and dinner with my newfound friends but they're the ones worth blogging. I was right about purchasing this sweet deal for a Vietnamese restaurant at from a deal website prior to this trip. Now I can't wait to use it and taste these yummy dishes again! =)