Food on Foot, Hanoi
We arrived in Hanoi after 15 hours of uneventful and as pleasant as can be expected train journey from Hue and checked in to our hotel in the heart of the Old Quarter and because after all this is us, promptly started researching food tours. Having felt more than a little ‘meh’ about the food tour we’d done in Hue we decided against using our usual go to of Urban Adventures and after a little hunting settled on Food on Foot with Vietnam Awesome for $25, who luckily had room for us on that nights tour.
Lily, our charming guide, met us in our hotel lobby a few hours later and after collecting 4 other foodies, Anna from the US and her sister Susan from Hong Kong and Simon and Hannah, 2 Brits also living in Hong Kong, we were on our way. Crossing the road in Hanoi is no different than the rest of Vietnam, there are few traffic lights and even fewer traffic rules so some patience and a slow steady gait will usually get you to where you want to go in one piece.
Our first stop was at Net Hue, a fairly western looking restaurant for Nem Lui, which are do it yourself spring rolls made from minced pork cooked on lemongrass that you add to rice noodles, herbs, cucumber, pickled carrot and papaya and pineapple and wrap in fine rice paper before dipping in sweet sauce. What a great start to the tour they were! Fresh, tasty and oh so moreish but after one each we were on our way.
As we were walking along Hannah asked about something a travelling stall was selling, vendors sell a whole host of edible delights that they transport around on baskets/bowls suspended from bamboo poles. Lily told us this one was serving foetal duck egg, a Vietnamese specialty apparently very good for your health and which is as off putting as it sounds. The eggs are boiled 2 weeks before hatching when the chick is almost fully formed, we all tried some of the yolk looking bit even though I am pretty sure it wasn’t yolk and Hannah braved the white chick part which was definitely chick. It really wasn’t awful and I’m probably just being squeamish over nothing, whichever, it’s not something I need to eat again.
Next and much more appetizing were glutinous rice balls which we picked up at a popular shopfront and took with us to our next restaurant, the balls were being deep fried in a cauldron of hot oil by the sidewalk, savoury ones filled with mince and mushroom and sweet ones filled with mung bean. Both were pretty tasty when we ate them at Hai San 68 while waiting for our first taste of Bun Cha, roasted fatty pork in broth with pickled green papaya to which you add fresh herbs and rice noodle and it is delicious! I’m almost glad I didn’t try it until now as I may not have eaten anything else, ha! Actually there are so many things I love here, I would definitely of eaten other things, the food is truly wonderful but Bun Cha would have featured prominently.
And so on the eating went, this time sat on tiny plastic chairs, streetside barbecued chicken feet and wings in a very tasty sauce with honey barbecued baguette which is totally as delicious as it sounds. The chicken feet weren’t bad either, just not a lot to eat on them and they had REALLY long toe nails which put me off because I felt like I was eating some witchy old ladies tiny hands, ahahaha anyway I probably won’t eat those again either.
I was quite grateful at our next stop, Bia Hoi Ha Noi, that the papaya salad with dried beef and banana flower salad both had too much chilli in for me to enjoy so I could have a food breather, alas the respite didn’t last long as the salads were soon followed by really nice crispy duck in sesame which we washed down with a super tasty and refreshing draught beer. This was fast shaping up to be one of the best street food tours we’ve been on, not just the variety of food but a combination of that, the different locations, Lily’s guiding and the lovely easygoing group we were part of.
Leaving the entirely local filled Bia Hoi Ha Noi we headed to its opposite in dining terms, the tourist filled Orchid restaurant where, with not a local in sight, we once again made rice paper spring rolls, this time with succulent and fragrant river fish, herbs and rice noodles and fresh papaya salad (again with the chillis! Ya know people you can enjoy a delicious papaya salad without chilli, I have done so on many occasions) anyway the food I could eat was lovely and I am sure we’ll be coming back here during our next few weeks in Hanoi.
The evening was rounded out at Café Giang, the birthplace of Hanoi’s famous egg coffee, egg yolk is whisked with condensed milk into a thick froth and the result is equal parts dessert and drink, we opted for the egg chocolate version which was delicious! And on that sweet note we said our goodbyes and happily walked the less than 20 paces to our hotel, which seems to be in the perfect location for some very foodie days ahead.
Our Food on Foot tour from Vietnam Awesome, was truly awesome and for $25USD per person, a great value evening Xx