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Phở beyond the Bánh Mỳ

Introduction

So everyone has heard of Phở, and of Banh My, (indeed often we can find these back in our home countries) and most people discover Bun Cha when they are in Hanoi too (which we highly recommend if you have not tried it, and there are a few great places very near to the hostel).  But there is so much more to Vietnamese food, so we thought we would point you in the direction of some lesser known and amazingly tasty street food dishes you can get in Hanoi.  Time to find a new Vietnamese dish to try!

Bún Riêu

The dish

Bun is the noodle type, thin rice vermicelli noodles, and Rieu (pronounced zyu) is a reference to the sour flavour in the soup.  This Vietnamese noodle soup dish will contain lots of ingredients, spring onions, tofu (Dau Phu), pork (Thit Lon) or beef (Thit Bo), tomato (ca chua), Vietnamese sausage (Gio) etc.  Places normally specialise in a type of this noodle soup such as Bun Rieu Oc (with snails), Bun Rieu Cua (with crab), Bun Rieu Oc Suon (with snails and pork ribs).

Eating it

This is eaten with an Asian spoon and chopsticks (standard).  A general rule of thumb (learnt from Vietnamese friends) is always clean your chopsticks and spoon with a paper napkin before using them.  Traditionally a younger person at the table would do this for the elders.  Typical condiments, that are added to individual taste would be; black pepper or a chilli sauce, fresh chillies (that will impart a strong flavour throughout the soup- so don’t do what a friend of ours did and throw a whole bowl of them in your soup), pickled garlic slices and the vinegar from the pickled garlic slices.  Usually it is also served with salad and herb leaves to add, or beansprouts.  Sometimes it is served with Que, dried bread sticks (that usually cost about 5,000 VND extra, so if you don’t want them, just leave them).

 

Finding it

Within 1 km/15 minutes walk from the hostel there are quite a few options. The closest is at 7 Phu Doan, just a couple of minutes away.  At 25 Bat Dan you can find the crab option, and at 2F Quang Trung street you can find the snails option.

Xôi

The Dish

Xoi is sticky rice.  It is a glutinous rice that can actually be made into sweet or savoury dishes, though here we will focus on the savoury.   It can be eaten by itself or in a larger dish.  Popular items to have it with are a Vietnamese sausage, grilled crab cakes or squid cakes.

Eating it

If you buy it from a bicycle vendor it will typically come with a small plastic spoon, though you can also use your hands if you want.  Chopsticks & spoon is the option if you get it in a small shop.  In a shop you will often find it accompanied with a bowl of pickled cucumber.  The plain sticky rice as a snack comes with a salt and peanut mixture that you dip the sticky rice into to coat it.

Finding it

If you listen out for one of the bicycle vendors saying what sounds like “I am sorry now”, they are selling sticky rice.  This is the one that is typically with crushed peanuts and salt.  They cycle down the street of the hostel quite often.  They can serve different amounts, so if you want small ask for Nho, or else they will serve a larger portion.

For the small shop options you can check 41 Duong Thanh for the grilled crab/squid option.  Xoi Yen at 35b Nguyen Huu huan you can get sticky rice with chicken, egg, braised pork, beef, Chinese sweet sausage or everything (thap Cam).  Cost is 20-60,000 VND depending on what you have with it.  If you are at this place go down the alley into number 39 for egg coffee afterwards.  Also, if you are after a sweet version you can get Kem Xoi which is sticky rice with ice cream – see this older post for info on it: http://seeyouatlilys.vn/2016/07/07/118/ .

Bánh Cuốn

The dish

Cooked rice flour dough sheets, usually served with beef, mushrooms and dry fried onions.  It is often served with a protein, such as a Vietnamese sausage (which in the picture is in a sauce) and with some herb leaves.

Eating it

Another chopstick meal, you take a leaf of something  and some of the Banh Cuon and maybe some of whatever else you have, dip in the sauce and eat.  Though depending on your chopstick skills you may want to pick up the bits separately and then eat them together.  Also, try the different leaves to discover the different flavours (use your hands to break up the big bunches), and eat most of your preferred one.

Finding it

Just a few minutes from the hostel is Banh Cuon Nong, at 5 Nha Chung, which is just by the cathedral.  Also they serve it at 14b Bao Khanh.

Miến Lươn

The dish

Glass noodles and dry fried eel are the main ingredients of this wonderful dish.  You can order it dry with the soup on the side (called Mien Luon Tron) or as a noodle soup (just Mien Luon).

Eating it

Usual condiments of a chilli sauce or fresh chillies can be found on the table, also ground black pepper can be added if you want.  mix it up before you eat it, especially if you are adding a spicy condiment or else one mouthful might set your tongue on fire!

Finding it

This can actually be found in the same place as Xoi in Bao Khanh, so if there are two or more of you wanting to try different dishes this little eatery is a good option.  Our preferred place is in Chan Cam, just one road north of See You at Lily’s hostel’s road, about 2 minutes from the hostel.

 

Mỳ Vằn Thắn

The Dish

This is actually one of the staff’s ‘go to’ hangover dish.  A wonderful broth with egg noodles, wantons and slices of pork and sometimes liver (if you really don’t like it you can leave it, but be adventurous and give it a try)

Eating it

Eaten with the Asian soup spoon and chopsticks, the weapons of choice in Vietnam, it will have the usual condiments of ground pepper, fresh chilli or chilli sauce, fresh lime wedges and sometimes pickled garlic.  Add a small amount at a time until you egt it to your desired flavour.

Finding it

There is a really popular local place at 9A Dinh Liet, the road heading northe from the top of Hoan Kiem lake.  This is a local place, and really good food.  Also this dish can be found at 83 Hang Dieu.  The dish it typically 30-45,000 VND

Tips

Remember, if you are looking for Lunch, the Vietnamese start early (sometimes even before 11), and we suggest eating early too, maybe 12-12.30 to avoid the disappointment of places having run out of food!  There can be quite a few things on the table at a food stall.  Chopsticks and spoons can be found, there will be a box with paper napkins (Giay an, pronounced zay an), toothpicks, fresh lime or kumquat to add to your meal, fresh chilli, chilli sauce (usually home made always delicious and sometimes dangerous).  With all of these, remember you can add more but you can’t take it away.  Enjoy the food!