Peter's mom, who is from Hanoi, is one of the most gifted cooks. Peter and I have been together for over 15 years and one of her dishes that I absolutely love is her cha ca (the classic Hanoi sautéed fish with turmeric, dill and galangal served with vermicelli noodles) which she cooks on special occasions. I have always wanted to visit Hanoi and finally got the chance last March. We visited an old friend Sacha, who moved there to teach at an International School and spent four days touring and tasting different dishes.
A list of our best eats in Hanoi.
Bun Cha Dac Kim
1 Hàng Mành
67 Đường Thành
We were wandering around the Old Quarter and found ourselves eating and drinking beers in Little Hanoi, a charming restaurant with outdoor seating. The 4 course meal (caramel chicken is included but is not in the photo) was a steal at $5 for all three of us.
9 & 14 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem
Nha Hang Ngon
60 Pasteur, Phurong Ben Nghe, Quan 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Sacha took us to the nicely decorated Nha Hang Ngon for cha ca. The dish had less dill than my mother in law's recipe and the sauce was not as pungent, but still very good. The prices were quite reasonable and the space was stylish and comfortable.
Sacha also worked in India for a few years and recommended Foodshop 45, an authentic Indian restaurant with pretty views of the lake. This is the meal to savor, talk and relax. Their fish tikka kebab and naan is amazing.
59 Truc Bach St.,Ba Dinh Dist, Hanoi
Peter and I love shawarma and kebabs and were super excited to try this pork bahn mi kebab with cabbage, mayo and chili. We did not expect to see it in Hanoi. A delicious street food treat for less than $1.
Dhong Thinh Nha Hang Mien Luon
87 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Although I eat Vietnamese food quite often back home in San Diego, I have never tasted Vietnamese style eel and am thrilled that I was able to try it in Hanoi.
I do not know what this is called, but it tasted like an eel meatball bun cha.
99 Hang Buom street, Hoan Kiem
Frannie needed to buy coffee beans for her sister and Nguyen took us to Kim Lai. I tasted their Cafe Chon made from weasel droppings which is their version of the uber expensive Kopi luwak (civet coffee) and brought home a bag. I was doubtful if I would like it and thought the weasel story was marketing hyperbole to convince people to buy expensive coffee. When I took a sip, I was awed. The flavor is deep, chocolately, not bitter with a lingering mild tingly aftertaste. I should have brought home more...
Noodle and Roll
39C Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem old quarter district, Hanoi 84, Vietnam
We took a city tour and our tour guide Nguyen Van Dung took us to Noodle and Roll for lunch. Their bun cha was okay, but their tender savory sweet Ca kho to (carmelized cat fish) was worth the visit.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
15 Ngô Quyền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 010000, Vietnam
To unwind after a long day of sightseeing, we had a light meal, cocktails and fresh juice at the colonial chic Bamboo Bar at the grand Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel. A fun spot to people watch, architecture ogle and get design inspiration.