8 (Thu) September 2016
at Banmi Saigon
Mission to Viet Nam : Day 3 (see previously 7.246 Bun Cha).
In Hanoi. Here to attend a parliamentarian conference on ageing. Arrived Tuesday. Flying back to Manila tomorrow.
Determined to get down and dirty on my last night in town, I went to the Old Quarter hoping for an immersive experience in Hanoi’s famous street food. But I didn’t do proper research to determine exactly where to go, so I meandered aimlessly for over an hour, Old Quarter being far more expansive than I’d anticipated, alley after alley lined primarily with shops offering trinkets for tourists. Until I came upon a random restaurant/snack shop, nothing particularly appealing on the menu, didn’t sell beer, but I was tired and ventured in for a bite. And quickly left after just two bites, one per dish that I’d ordered.
Fed up — though far from literally — about to call it a night, but then I came upon a book shop, where I picked a book about street food in Hanoi, which included a map.
Unfortunately, though I’d been hoping for guidance towards some kind of centralized marketplace with a collection of street vendors, the book only gave recommendations for a select number of restaurants selling street-style food.
Also, I again underestimated the geographic scale. Took nearly an hour before I got to the general vicinity of my intended destination. And then I couldn’t find the place.
See, this reaffirms that I’m not a foodie.
The pho was good. In comparison to the beef pho a couple nights ago (see 7.245 Pho Bo), this one seemed closer to what I’d read about northern/Hanoi-style pho : light chicken broth, simple toppings. Satisfying, no more, no less.
Overall, my food experiences in Hanoi weren’t all that great. But I did confirm : (1) pho is ubiquitous here, (2) though not categorically different or better than it is in other countries where I’ve had it (USA, Korea, Philippines), (3) except that the toppings and garnishes vary widely from place to place, and (4) no sriracha or hoisen sauce on the table.
When traveling, the souvenirs that I purchase/acquire(=steal) tend to be about food and drink : refrigerator magnets representing local dishes; local cookbooks; local cooking ingredients; local dishware; local booze.