Think Nayong Pilipino for Vietnamese food, in a 2,000 square meter city location, not a particularly appealing thought, I know. But it was our first night in Hanoi, we were raring to get going on the food front, and this place came highly recommended by previous residents of Hanoi, and the concierge at our hotel. It’s a quick way to get a taste of many different types of “street food” with far less concern for any potential street-prone cooties. If your stomachs aren’t totally ready for a full-on street experience, which includes many delightful fresh herbs, but possibly with traces of night soil and barely rinsed in water, then some care is suggested in the places you eat lest you have an exploding bottom syndrome. :)
The short verdict? An 7.5/10.0. Not bad at all. An old colonial style house in the middle of the lot converted into a restaurant. The fringes of the lot had dozens of little “street food stalls” each offering a different specialty, and presumably manned by different owners and purveyors. Everything was a bit more hygienic seeming and it was quite a sight to behold. Hundreds of folks splayed out on large dining tables in the areas around the house, and canvas tarps above to ward off the rains. Actually I thought it a REALLY CLEVER hybrid of giving locals and tourists the kinds of street food they want, but in a much more inviting setting, albeit all the ruckus as there were perhaps 300 folks there the night we dined. We arrived by cab, had no reservation, and were promptly shuttled to a crappy second floor table, understandably. I want to replicate this set-up in Cebu someday…
Don’t ask me the proper names of these dishes, I was so hungry and didn’t take notes. Up top, a pork belly and noodle platter, with a second platter of rice wrappers and herbs and greens on the side. You wrap the pork and noodles and herbs up (note how the wrappers are basically quite dry) and eat them like fresh lumpia. Delicious, except for the bothersome tough pork rind on the meat, a bit like bacon made with the rind left on… a bit tough to chew and swallow.
Some stir-fried greens, and the branded moist towelettes.
Stir-fried beef… we liked this dish the least of all that we tried. It was tough and lacked flavor. Not sure we were ordering properly, but we manaed to eat heartily.
Pork or fish around sugar cane.
The massive arrangement of roses at one of the entrances… obviously a bit more upscale than “street food”… :)
One of the stalls with the chickens on display… note the basket of fabulous limes and platters of noodles and herbs. Each “station” offered a different specialty.
Hot bowls of pho (usually a breakfast food) but bizarre foreigners like us have it for dinner too…
…a basket of spectacular herbs… the ones tour books caution you against ingesting if you don’t want to get intestinal nasties (we all survived even after eating a lot of these on subsequent days).
A photo of one section of the “outdoor” section of the restaurant, bustling with locals and tourists alike. The place felt a bit crazed, but frankly, it was a nice way to spend our first meal out in Hanoi. We took a cab back to the hotel and fell fast asleep… In the days ahead, more Hanoi adventures, food and Marketman tries to replicate some Vietnamese dishes at home… Visit the restaurant’s website for more information, here.