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Hanoi food porn: Our 3 favorite meals

Posted by on July 8, 2012
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In Argentina, we (mostly Eaman) were excited for the steak. In Asia, we (again, mostly Eaman) were excited for the street food. Besides being mostly vegetarian, I generally err on the safe/boring side thanks to a sensitive stomach, but there was no better way to build immunity for the remainder of Asia than with street food stalls. And it was a good thing because in Vietnam, it was the cheapeast, tastiest and most authentic introduction to the country.

We looked for high turnover to make sure food was fresh and dishes that were hot, hot, hot, avoiding anything uncooked that might’ve been washed with tap water. Other than that, we picked up chopsticks, settled into the child-size plastic furniture — that’s how all the seating works there — and chowed down.


And as a note, we had pho, but only at our hotel, which was good, but not the best we had. (That honor goes to our guesthouse in Champasak, Laos.) In any case, the idea of drinking hot soup in steamy Hanoi sounded miserable.

1. For pure taste, my favorite was the bun bao at Bun Bo Nam Bo at 47 Hang Dieu. (Most street food stalls are nameless and go only by address or meal offering.) It’s a noodle based dish with beef, crushed peanuts and herbs for $2.50. That’s all they serve, so you just tell them how many and wait for Vietnam’s best street food offering. We knew we did good when our Mai
Chau
tour guide told us he eats there, too.



2. For pure experience, nothing beats the DIY meal at Xuan Xuan on 47 Ma May Street. You get a plate of veggies, strips of raw beef, a bowl of salt, pepper, and sliced lime, a squeeze bottle of oil, and a stove to grill it all yourself. I stuck to veggies because the raw meat freaked me out, but Eaman was in grill heaven. The one caveat is that you will most likely get splashed with oil. Eaman was used to to it after working in his parents’ restaurant as a kid, but I…I was not. It hurt like a mother, and I was constantly cowering in a corner avoiding the oil. That said, I still full-heartedly recommend this meal.


3. For a vegetarian change of pace, some of the best food I’ve had in all our travels was at Com Chay Nang Tam, a meat-free establishment run by Buddhists and located in the French Quarter, tucked away in an alley within an alley. I loved the $2.50 set lunch menu, which included tomato sauce tofu, cinnamon-dusted tofu, water spinach, soy nuggets, steamed rice and a killer soup. Seriously, this soup was unreal. There was pineapple and lemongrass and spice. Ooh. So good. Also amazing? The banana flower-star fruit-noodle salad.


Honorable mention for Fresh Garden (47 Ly Thuong Kiet Street) a lovely, albeit sterile bakery we found after some $6 75-minute massages. We got all this for $3.

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2 Responses to Hanoi food porn: Our 3 favorite meals

  1. Edna

    I LOVE bun bo! We didn’t spend nearly enough time in Hanoi to discover more of the food, but I’d love to go back one day and eat my heart out.

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