By Andy Flores from WindowSeat.ph
The Vietnamese speak of their cuisine with a heightened sense of pride, and it’s not hard to see why. Their food is not just delicious, but also regarded as one of the most healthful in the world. So with a big appetite and an adventurous palate, I hit the streets of Vietnam’s buzzing capital Hanoi with friends to taste the best bites that the city has to offer.
They say that one’s Hanoi tip won’t be complete without having a taste of the city’s signature dish, so there’s no question why a bún chả place was on top of our itinerary – or should I say eatinerary? This type of minced pork barbecue (chả) that gained much fanfare from former American President Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain is served with a generous helping of rice noodles (bún) and a steaming bowl of savory and mildly sweet dipping sauce. For extra flavor, a mix of Vietnamese herbs, vegetables, sliced chili, and minced garlic are provided on the side, so you could prepare your meal to your own liking.
Nem Cua Be
This specialty of Northen Vietnam that’s often paired with bún chả is essentially a fried spring roll stuffed with crab meat, minced vegetables, and glass rice noodles. Feel free to dunk a roll in your bún chả’s dipping sauce for an interesting play of flavors.
When I asked what the pink and slightly charred skewers on our makeshift stool-turned-table were, a friend just told me that they’re “meat on a stick.” With a bit of googling here and there (and more asking, as Google has a lot to show for “meat on a stick”), I found out that it’s actually called “nem lụi,” a type of minced pork skewer that is among Hanoi’s most common street snacks. It’s chewy, succulent, and subtly salty, making it perfect for dipping in chili or lemongrass sauces.
Ngao Xào Sả Ớt
When grabbing drinks at Ta Hien, Hanoi’s “Beer Street,” there are countless accompaniments that you can order to go with your cold one. From mixed nuts to stir-fried noodles, the bars that line the city’s most rambunctious district have something for everyone with different tastes to munch on. On our visit, we ordered some boiled peanuts and ngao xào xả ớt. Not your typical beer partner, the meat of these lemongrass-infused clams are chewy, briny, and lightly sweet.
The famous rice noodle soup dish phở may have the world’s attention, but in Hanoi, phở cốn has a special place in every local’s heart. Legend has it that a phở vendor once ran out of broth, so instead of throwing out uncut noodles, he pressed the noodles into paper-thin pancakes, rolled them with beef and herbs, and sold the rolls to customers. Modest in taste, phở cuốn is served with a dipping sauce made with vinegar, fish sauce, water, sugar, and chopped garlic.
Curious to see other food finds in Hanoi? Read the full article here!