Touring Diary – Log 1 – 08.03.2014
I did not start writing this post until 12pm today. To be completely honest, I really wanted to skip this week (and very nearly did); I was quite drained, physically and mentally. But a promise is best kept, not wasted, especially when it’s between you and yourself. So, with all my mental strength and commitment, behind this screen and over the keyboard, nice to meet you all again! And Happy Woman’s Day!
Let’s talk about my food tour in Hanoi the week after Valentine, I have mentioned this in the KAfé Review post last week, in case you might notice. I have never written this kind of article before, and my recommendations might merely reflect my own taste butts, but bear with me, OK? 🙂
Because it was a long 6-day trip so I will cover only the first 3 days this week and leave the last 3 days for next one. Finally, another sequel… Anyone want to yay with me? YAY!
Day 1 – 15/02/2014
The whole point of this trip was to visit Hanoi on the occasion of my friend Lovely came home from Germany.
During my time in Hanoi, I was staying at the Hanoi Cultural Hostel on 28 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem Dist., Hanoi. It was a nice and clean hostel for its reasonable price (~14USD/night for a room with one double bed – 2 persons, breakfast included), free Wi-Fi, the staff was friendly and respectful, and its location at the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter is convenient (basically, everything you need from eating, shopping, to clubbing is within walking distance). The only downside was that it doesn’t have an elevator; please understand my pain to have my room arranged on the 5th floor. T.T All in all, I would recommended this hostel to my friends if the are asking for a place to stay in Hanoi.
On the hallway, I captured this, “Backpacking love”. It was sure a cutie.
After settling down with all check-in procedure, Lovely and I said hello to her mother, and then the three of us went to dinner, excited to try out a very Hanoian dish – Phở Cuốn.
What is it anyway? Imagine this, when people make Phở noodle, instead of cutting it into thin strips and eat it with beef broth, they keep it as a big sheet serve it as a fresh roll with beef and herb leaves filling. Talking about Phở Cuốn in Hanoi, one very popular checkpoint and also its origin is Ngũ Xã Village, near Trúc Bạch Lake. Around this very small crossroad, stand at least 10 Phở Cuốn restaurants, one of which is Hưng Bền on 26, Nguyễn Khắc Hiếu st., Trúc Bạch Ward, Ba Đình Dist.
We ordered Phở Cuốn – Fresh Phở Roll with stir-fried beef and Vietnamese herb, Phở Chiên Phồng – Deep fried Phở Cuốn with stir-fried beef and green lettuce, and Ngô Chiên – Deep fried Corn. Price: 2-3 USD/dish
You can really taste the freshness and chewiness of the Phở sheet, in combination with beef juiciness and special herb aroma. The Phở Chiên Phồng was OK for me, enough crunchiness though it was not as special as normal Phở Cuốn. The Ngô Chiên was quite addictive and we have to order extra portion for our Movie night later. 🙂
After dinner, we said goodbye to Lovely’s Mother and since the night was still young, we went to try another specialty that Hanoi has to offer – Cà Phê Trứng – Egg coffee, at Giảng café on 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân st., Hoàn Kiếm Dist. Its entrance was very, very small that we almost overlooked. But it was like a hidden treasure, once you found it, you would be pleasantly surprised. Giảng was one of 4 oldest cafés in Hanoi (Nhân – Nhĩ – Dĩ – Giảng) and it was a great place to not only enjoy a good cup of Vietnamese coffee, but really to breath in the tradition of an ancient Hanoi.
Cà Phê Trứng here was simply whole egg beaten with sugar and a shot of expresso. It was super sweet with a distinct smell of raw egg. If it was not on your favorite list, stay away. For me, it was nice and warm, especially when served with roasted sunflower seed, and we enjoyed the atmosphere and the talk with each other. Price: less than 50 US cent/cup.
After that, we went to someplace else and did something that we rather like to keep that a secret. 😉 There should always be an age-restricted area in a blog, right?
Day 2 – 16.02.2014
We intended to visit Lăng Bác – Ho Chi Minh Tomb this morning. But then, we had some emergency in Hồ Tây and there, I captured this, “Fog”.
Lovely and I then travelled back to Hanoi center and took a long walk around Hoàn Kiếm Lake to clear my head.
After a good exercise, we now had enough space to fit in another goodie, so we went back to Hanoi Old Quarter area and had Bún Ốc Nguội – Cool Escargot Noodle Soup at a nameless (but famous) street stand at Quang Chưởng St. Just enough distinct but pleasant sourness of Giấm Bỗng – specially made rice vinegar went so great with the freshness of boiled escargots and the spiciness of chili paste. Dipping that small Bún noodle piece (called Bún Vẩy Ốc, Escargot Cup Noodle) in the broth and feel the whole breeze of traditional Vietnam inside your mouth. Price: 1.5 USD/bowl.
Both challenge addicts ourselves; we walked across the Old Quarter to Đắc Kim restaurant, no. 1, Hàng Mành st. to try Bún Chả – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Noodle. Need not to explain about this dish, do I? An assortment of grilled pork was served in a warm Fish sauce bowl with picked green papaya and carrot; enjoy them with fresh Vietnamese herbs and rice noodle. The place is quite expensive comparing to other local stands (3.5 USD/portion comparing to normal 2 USD) but one portion is HUGE, so it was worth the high price.
Overestimated our limit, we were so full and satisfied that we decided to call it a day. At night, we traveled to the Kafé, and I have reviewed it here, just a friendly reminder. 😉
Day 3 – 17.04.2014
Today, Long-legged can finally take her day off work and join us. We missed you! If we need a noun to call this 17th, we would all agree to call it “Total Randomness”. 😉
For breakfast, we went to Nguyên Sinh restaurant on 19 Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống Ward, Hoàn Kiếm Dist. The place was one of the first Western style restaurants in Hanoi. It is famous for its cold dishes, duck liver pate, and ham.
The price was 4 USD/dish, which is quite very expensive, 4 times higher than a normal Bánh Mì in Vietnam, but well; you get what you pay for.
Longing for something warm, we went to Đông Thịnh restaurant, 87 Hàng Điếu st., and opposite to Hàng Da market for some eel vermicelli soup. Eel? Eew! I must object this exclamation. Eel might look “eew” but it doesn’t taste “eew”, at all. You just have to try the crunchy deep fried eel – Lươn Giòn this restaurant has to offer, and change your mind, and say sorry to the Eel God for having said “Eew” to him once too many times. 😉 Price 2-2.5 USD/dish.
I tell Long-legged about my KAfé’s crème brulee experience the night before, and we decided to find justice for the Caramel Flan by trying a very famous caramel stand in Hanoi at 29 Hàng Than st. Nguyễn Trung Trực Ward. Ba Đình Dist. This was it, the melt-in-your-mouth texture and that to-die-for richness that a flan should have had. For a twist in flavor, try flan with coconut milk or with fermented black rice – Nếp Cẩm, all recommended. Price 40 cent – 1 USD/dish.
After a very “productive” morning, we needed to burn some good calories, so bowling it is. 🙂 Lovely and I are all amateur players with very up-and-down performance and it was my 4th time playing anyway, Long-legged must have had lots of practice, :D.
What could be better to spend a lazy afternoon than enjoying each other’s companies over tea and sweets? So we went to Saint Honoré near Vincom Center at 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Dist. The place was loaded with baked goods, which delighted me to great extent.
We tried lots of different kinds of sweets, but non wowed me, to be honest. It might be a very good place to kill time and host a nice group of friends, but it is not a place to turn your foodie mode on. 🙂
After this, we went for some random movie, then come back to the hostel for a Girl Sleepover. Highlight of the night of randomness:
- Long-legged brought wine, but not opener, has to go to a random pub nearby to borrow theirs, had a good leg work out by walking 5 floors 8 times.
- After the drinking, go to another random food stand for hot pot, talked to each other completely in English but whenever ordering food, switched seamlessly to Vietnamese. It feel like we used to talk to each other in Vietnamese with no fear anyone could understand in Venice, those were the day.
It was a heart-to-heart night (a.k.a. drinking, card playing, truth-daring) after this, we are all confident that we know all most all of each other’s dirtiest secrets, right, girls? 😉
OK, that is it for today, many other random things await to be revealed next week. Now, my mind just stop processing. 😉
Until next time,