Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hanoi Elegance

The girls and I decided to make a little jaunt to Hanoi over the Easter Holidays. Being the teaching nerdballs that we are, we used the cooperative learning model and devied up our responsibilities. Of course, I was in charge of the food itinerary.

My list includes:

-Cha ca La Vong

-Brother's cafe

-Cooking Class at Hidden Hanoi

-Highway #4

-Bobby Chinn ( for Pauline who fancies him)

We took our 2 hour flight and went to our hotel, Hanoi Elegance (which I highly recommend). I went straight to work and asked about a recommendation for lunch. The cute little guy at the reception told us to go to this place called Noon.

We decided to walk there, which was a truly frightful experience for people who have just arrived in Hanoi. Scooters are everywhere, cars are not stopping for red lights- basically, you just have to walk at a steady pace and hope for the best. After about half an hour of inefficient walking due to stops at shops along the way, and practising new ways to cross the street, we finally arrived at the street where the restaurant is. We walked along and saw this really neat lively open air eatery called Quan An Ngon surrounded by stalls where people are making all sorts of different Vietnamese street food. We thought, screw the restaurant recommendation- let's eat here instead!

Well, it turns out that we misread Ngon on the map and thought it was Noon, so we actually went to the right place. Now, I know my mates may not agree with me, but in retrospect, I would rate this as the best restaurant on the trip. I love these spruced up versions of traditional eateries. Ngon is like a food court of street vendors from years past with their adorable sun hats, squatting down and fanning their creations.

So the two hungry girls and I ordered: crab and sea snail vermicelli, beef pho, grilled mackerel, grilled squid, shrimp sweet potato cake, and spring rolls. Of course, nothing washes Vietnamese peasant food better than Hanoi beer. Really, I wanted to order much, much, more....but I had to pace myself- it was only our first meal, after all.

The food was tasty, but the seafood was a little overdone in our opinion. We finished our meal with an authentic cold Vietnamese coffee and a green sticky rice pudding with coconuts.
This was a very promising beginning to our Vietnamese culinary adventures....

No comments: