Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hanoi-Street Food

If you were here with me, we'd be eating out almost every meal because it's way cheaper than cooking. Breakfast, lunch and dinner cost about 75 cents each. Here are some samples:

Bun Cha is a Hanoian staple-BBQ pork,a la bacon, and beef patties with rice vermicelli noodles, a garden medley dipped in a sauce made of lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar, lime and vinegar. This last bit, the sauce, makes one Bun Cha dish better than the next. Luckily for me, this shop is within short walking distance from my house and is better than the famous Bun Cha shop found in the Old Quarter. This was lunch with Sam, english teacher and one of my roommates.

This is Bun Rieu-a crab/shrimp soup base noodle with vermicelli rice noodles. The protein ingredients are pork sausage, pork blood cake, a la cubes, snails and fried tofu. The condiment that sends this dish over the top, depending on how you look at it, is fermented shrimp paste. So you can imagine by the name that it's an acquired taste.

Pho is of course ubiquitous here in Hanoi. And since this is where the dish originated, you'd think that it'd be hard to find a bad pho house. You see, I've been compiling a list of street stalls and restaurants on a google map that I will attach later. But when I asked for the best pho houses in the city I discovered that there are too many to list and it would be better to warn of the bad ones instead. Above is chain store that recently arrived here from the South. Now, usually anything food related from the South would be tastier than here in the North, Pho 24 however is not. It's watered down and tasteless. And as you can see, it's not really street food but a restaurant, completely sheltered from street life.

Another breakfast favorite of mine is this Vietnamese version of steak and eggs, cooked in a iron skillet and served with a demi-baguette. The version in the central part of Vietnam is better mostly because the bread is better down there and they pour on top of everything some kind of stock, giving the dish a moister flavor. Still, it's great to have this dish nearby. I'm enjoying this with world traveller and buddy Devin, from the states. (More with him later.)

All of these dishes above and a few more that I will share with you later are individual servings, a bowl or plate for each person. As it is you can enjoy these by yourself, so it is more common among Vietnamese that these are eaten in the morning, because lunch and dinner are dedicated to eating with your family, where you all sit around a table each with a small bowl of rice, dipping your chopsticks into plates or vegetables and meats in a communal manner.
More food later....of course!