Our first week in Hanoi was spent settling in, getting accustomed to the time zone, hanging out with friends, and most importantly, eating the best Vietnamese food in the world. Below is a quick summary.
Tuesday, March 18: First meal of Hanoi: Xôi xéo lạp sườn (sticky rice with mung bean, Chinese sausage, and fried shallots). One of our favorite comfort food dishes.
We later met my cousin Bao and his friends Kim and Quan for some French fried (that’s how French Fries are written on menus here), beer, gin tonic, and trà chanh. Hanging out on the sidewalk and people watching are the things to do here to pass time, until you get kicked out of the streets by the police. Apparently shops aren’t permitted to stay open and serve after 11pm on weeknights. Boo.
Wednesday, March 19: The next morning, Chris had his first bún riêu thịt heo, complimentary of our hostel. Chris really enjoyed it, especially with a bit of ớt cay (chili peppers)!
After breakfast, we ventured out into early morning Hanoi to stroll the streets of the old quarter and Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
For dinner, Bao took us to get some Hue food. I LOVE Hue food!! We enjoyed bánh bột lọc, bánh bèo, gỏi cuốn thịt nướng and thịt ba chỉ.
Thursday, March 20: Bao set us up with his friend Hiep, who took us to the Temple of Literature, which was originally the first university of Hanoi. To be honest, it was kind of boring, but we managed to take some fun pictures.
Epic Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter scene to be edited…some day:
For lunch, we chowed down one of our favorite dishes- bún chả nem chien (grilled pork, rice noodles and egg rolls with fish sauce and other garnishes).
Some random street photos:
Another awesome thing about being in Hanoi at this time was that I had 3 friends from the bay area who were also visiting Hanoi! We met up for dinner and drinks.
We walked into a random restaurant, where I discovered my new favorite snack, bánh khoái (“happy pancake” or Hue pancake). It was similar to bánh xèo, but smaller with a crispier rice flour shell.
Friday, March 21: We spent our entire morning at the Museum of Ethnology. If you ever go to Hanoi, this place is a must-see! This museum is considered the finest modern museum in Hanoi and exhibits 54 of the recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam. The indoor museum exhibits artifacts such as old rice hats, bicycles, woven goods, art, clothing, weapons, farming tools, etc., and the outdoor museum displays homes and huts that you can explore.
A bicycle used in the 80s by a fish trap seller:
DO NOT read the following below if you cannot stand to see/read about our first taste of dog.
Saturday, March 22: Part of traveling and learning about new cultures is trying out foreign foods, no matter how strange they sound. I thought I would be able to eat dog without feeling terrible, but it turned out that I could not. I actually felt awful and queasy with each bite, especially since there were cooked dog carcasses directly across from me. Eventually I just stopped eating it. During our meal, we learned that the dogs served are not random mutts found on the street; a specific breed is raised and then killed after a year for consumption.
Chris and I met with Bao at Nhà Hàng Thịt Chó (Dog Meat Restaurant). Their front facade displayed cooked dog parts and heads.
They served a variety of cuts: grilled dog (which actually was quite tasty), dog liver, dog sausage, and cold cut dog. It was served with rice wine to drink and two dipping sauces of shrimp paste and a mix of lime, salt, and peppers