Monday, 29 December 2008

Images from Hanoi - Vietnam Food

This latest trip to Hanoi was over two months ago. Everytime I travel for work, I envision that there'll be plenty of downtime to blog whilst on the trip. Well of course that's never the case. If I'd spent the evening back in the hotel room, I would either be stuck with my usual desperate rush to complete preparations for meetings the following day, or have returned so weary that all I would manage is to lie prostrate over the gluttony of pillows and listlessly cycle over 20 plus channels of a foreign language.

Any-hour traffic in Hanoi's streets. Australians beware before stepping foot to cross. They come at you from the other way! Don't bother waiting for a break, it won't happen. Local's tip to me, just make sure you've eyeballed who/whatever is bearing down on you and you won't get hit. It works, for the most part.

Pho (pronounced 'fur' as far as I can approximate) for breakfast at a streetside stall across from the hotel, just one of many pho stalls dotting Hanoi's streets. I'll have to admit that the novelty wore off after the first few times of slurping noodles with my knees around my ears (note kiddie stools) accompanied by traffic fumes and whiffs of gutter drainage that had been percolating in the tropical heat.

A hearty bowl of bun bo (Beef Rice Noodle Soup) from the same stall. For approximately one extra Australian dollar when ordered via the hotel's small dining room, the concierge dashes across the street with a dishwasher-cleaned bowl and returns in 5 minutes to serve it up with accompanying greens. This order consisted of brisket beef with softened tendons, tripe, miscellaneous vessels, steamed cubes of congealed blood, some sort of spammy pork sausage and a knuckle of pork hock. All good things.

There was an option of buying a shot of steeped snake and reptile wine at a somewhat tourist orientated cafe at Halong, on a short side trip to its World Heritage listed coastline. Alledged to cure all ails from the common cold to flagging libido and more, though I was dubious that such an elixir would help in any way with the only ailment bothering me at the time. Mild diarrhoea from suspect seafood. So I passed.

Somewhat sunbaked fruits hawked by dexterous rowboat traders at Halong Bay.

Aside from the few pics shown here, I had some amazing meals during my couple of weeks in North Vietnam. Experiences at some of the restaurants I'd visited in Hanoi city will follow in the next post, but some of the more interesing dishes I sampled were found in the bia (beer) cafe I was taken to daily, to lunch with colleagues I was visiting. Stirfried vegetables of countless exotic variety, whole fish (carp and snakehead) hotpot braised with tamarind and mint, super crispy fresh baguettes served with mounds of soft butter and white sugar, obligatory plates of deep fried crinkle-cut fries, rather gamey salads with cold sliced goat meat, delicious claypot braised eel, stirfried frog ribs and legs, and on and on. Not to mention toasts after toasts with Hanoi bia hoi, the local fresh beer. No wonder the locals require a post-lunch siesta to break up their workdays!

I leave readers with a thit cho (dog meat) restaurant snapped on my way to the airport. Such establishments are found in certain sections of the Old Quarter and around the city outskirts, including along the highway to Noi Bai. Traditional ones are distinctively double story Tay buildings raised on stilts, with seating on the upper level. I declined several invitations, not being able to get past my western sensibilities. My blogging 'pen'-name "Towser" is in reverence to my pet pooch after all.


Agnes said...

Looking forward to reading more of your eating adventures. :) Got any more work trips coming up?

ice tea: sugar high said...

gosh.. i'm green with envy. I always wanted to go to vietnam!

hard to get my friends to go, they always opt for bangkok instead. Oh well, reading your adventures will have to do for now.

Towser said...

Ice tea: Thanks for visiting and yes do return for updates :) Vietnam is chaotic and hectic but it has its charms. And the food there is diverse and for the most part terrific!