7.247 Pho Ga


8 (Thu) September 2016

Pho Ga


at Banmi Saigon



Not the ageing part per se that interests me, but the parliamentarian angle.

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.

Nom Thut Bo Kho is a street-side restaurant/snack shop.

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.

Nothing particularly appealing on the menu.
Didn’t sell beer.
Nem Cuon (0.5) : skins like plastic, insides like mulch, both inedibly dry/rough.
Nom Chim (1.0) : bird = probably pigeon, probably straight off the street = locavorism.

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.

Banh My Sai Gon is a Vietnamese restaurant.
Specializes in pho ga (chicken) — amazing that they just leave the chicken out in the tropical climate all day/night long.
The initial attraction was the offer of air-conditioning, a rarity in Hanoi — interestingly, the restaurant’s dining area appeared to be the family’s living room, kids playing on their phones, doing their homework…
More importantly, the owner/chef/server/mother/whatever was SCORCHING-SCALDING-SEARING-SIZZLING hot, total MILF — that’s her husband (at left), doing a crossword.

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.

However, the noodles were thinner than I would’ve expected.

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.

Across the street from the hotel, I couldn’t resist stopping by this late-night restaurant/pub for a final take-away snack.
100,000 Vietnamese dong = about 4.5 US dollars; hard to grasp this monetary scale : upon check-out, my hotel bill came out to over 10,000,000 VND, and I was like, “Wait, what?!?!”
Looking forward to visiting Saigon someday, more so Ho Chi Minh City.

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.

Canh Ga Chien Mam (2.5) : I’m beginning to appreciate the savory stinkiness of fish sauce.
When I brought these items to the counter, at a convenience store next to the pub/restaurant, the clerk pointed to the fish sauce (in the middle), emphatically waved his hands, frowned, x-ed his fingers in front of his mouth, clearly trying to indicate that it wasn’t a beverage, like the beer and vodka.

Leave a Reply