While reading up on Hanoi before my trip all I read was about coffee, noodles and lots and lots of food! And you can imagine that helped tip the scales in Hanoi's favour for me. I suddenly found myself get excited about this visit and started making a list of places I can go to in the 2 days I would spend in Hanoi's famous old quarters.
While I might have gone overboard with the list, I am glad I found time to try as much as I could, and even dragged my unimpressed mother along with me trying to get us the local 'food' experience.
It started with me trying to find a little food joint called Banh Cuon Gia Truyen
This little place had gotten some great reviews about their Vietnamese Rice Pancakes and I for one was dying to try it. Thanks to my google map skills we found the place despite the fact that my mother was wondering the entire time (out loud) I was wasting time trying to find food when there are so many options around.
I couldn't explain that this was as good as sightseeing for me. So I let it go.
The place was small and unfortunately quite unappetizing as it was very unclean. I wish the tables were not dirty and had less waste on the floor, but I found myself liking the translucent rice crepes (mine were stuffed with little shrimp). Was it the best place to grab lunch? Probably not. But the food was a thumbs up in my book.
My next stop was to the extremely popular Cafe Giang. This was the ultimate stop for me to try the famous Egg Coffee. As weird as that might sound, the coffee is delicious! It tastes like an espresso dessert and looks beautiful! The cafe itself is a very hippie, 'lets hang out with friends' vibe. Shared seating and small tables. I found myself a corner and waited for my cup to arrive. If I had company I would forced my companions to order the egg hot chocolate, the rum egg coffee and possibly some other options all so I can keep tasting those as well ????
Of course being Vietnam in general you cannot escape certain foods, while Hanoi might have some amazing options, I realized once you leave the cities local foods look alike and guess what you will find almost everywhere?
Pho for sure.
My mom and I came across this pretty little restaurant in the Hoan Khiem area called, 'The Little Hanoi' and the place was cute and there was wifi, and the waitress knew English and the food was yumm! We tried the crab fried spring rolls there and of course I got myself a large bowl of pho.
Next was a place I like countless others visited only because a certain Mr Obama and Mr Bourdian made famous. The little restaurant became famous 2 famous charismatic men went to eat local food there. A place called Bun Cha Huong Lien
As the same suggests its known for a Vietnamese dish called Bun Cha, that is served with vermicelli noodles, pork and broth. I like many others kept this place on my list after Obama made it famous and trust me the restaurant uses it for PR - they even have a special 'Obama' menu - the same meal he had while there. But the food was epic! I think Bun Cha is probably my favourite Vietnamese dish. And I'm usually not even a fan of pork meat! This had the right amount of spices to it which satisfied the Indian soul in me.
I then come back to Coffee. In 12 days in Vietnam I think I had at least 2 cups a day, I love Vietnamese coffee. And the day I was leaving Hanoi I wanted another cup of Egg Coffee, only this time thought I'll try a new place. Cafe Pho Co
The place was literally hidden in the market, with a clothing store in the front of it. It took me two circles around the block to spot the board. The vibe is extremely vintage and you have to climb old winding stairs to get to the little terrace where they serve their coffee (I feel bad for the waitresses)
The coffee in Giang as better according to me, but this won't disappoint you either. Sit on the terrace, sip on coffee and try to spot the lake between buildings.
That's all for now. I'm going to try and make myself a hot cup of coffee right now.