We were quite charmed by Hanoi.
We stayed in the Old Quarter, and spent much of our time exploring this quaint area. We found it to have the bustle of a busy Asian city yet still oozing olden-day charm. Many of the old buildings are preserved or restored. It was all rather gorgeous.
We explored on foot, getting very much lost and happily stumbling across old open houses…
Corn on the cob…this actually tasted pretty terrible, so let’s just focus on how pretty it is, shall we?
There were markets on practically every street-corner.
And there was Bánh Chưng frying on the street, the smell was incredible…
We rested our feet and refreshed ourselves with a glass of diced fruit with sweetened condensed milk. Here we are, hanging with the local kids, trying (and failing) to blend in.
and then there was…
Beautiful Bun Cha
Bun Cha is a very popular dish in northern of Vietnam. It consists of grilled pork, vermicilli noodles, greens (lettuce and herbs), a bowl of fish saucy soup and a plate of crunchy fried spring rolls. To me this felt like a fairly random combination, but I was very keen to try it.
There is one restaurant that is supposed to be the place to go for bun cha in Hanoi, located on the corner Hang Non and Hang Manh in the Old Quarter. We ended up eating at this revered restaurant a different day, and it was nowhere near as delicious as the first one we ate at, below.
For breakfast on this exploration day, we decided to follow our instincts and eat at a restaurant we stumbled across. At around 9am we found ourselves at 3 Nguyen Sieu. The sweet waft of grilled pork in betel leaf and the sight of large vats of soup bubbling away drew us in.
This dingy, narrow little eatery was screaming, “eat here! Eat here!”.
And so we did.
And so we fell in love with bun cha.
And so I find myself often dreaming of this dish.
And so I find myself questioning the honesty of the lady from whom I purchased this enormous hat off the street, who ensured me it looked good…
At least my head was warm.
My belly was also warm. This dish was just incredible.
You dip the cold noodles into the sharp, sweet sauce/soup, pick up some pork and crunchy vegetable and pop that delicious salty, sweet bundle into your mouth. Heavenly.
The bursting flavour of the soup was phenomenal, like nothing I had ever eaten before. I was loving every mouthful. It was a complete revelation.
Hanoi has so many gems, more hidden ones than exposed. I only wish we had longer to explore every nook and cranny of this charming, gentle city. I just know there are so many more delicious and exotic eats to be had. I suppose another visit is in order…