Laurie Eats Sometimes-Vietnam edition

The food in Vietnam is pretty amazing! It’s fresh and delicious and the cool thing is that it can be found and prepared almost anywhere!

I’m a fan of Vietnamese food so I knew I would like eating during our Vietnam travels. I guess the only downside was that it was so hot and humid, we weren’t that hungry for much of the trip. But, fear not, we forced ourselves to eat…for research😀

Before we went to Vietnam, I would have said my favorite dish was BĂșn ChĂ  -a dish of grilled pork and noodles.

And, I did really enjoy this but my new favorites (which I’ve had before) are BĂ nh XĂšo and BĂ hn MĂŹ.

The bread for the Bahn Mi was especially delicious in northern Vietnam. It’s just everywhere-on the street and in every restaurant. Bread, pate, egg, herbs…Unbelievably good.

The Banh xeo was so addictive-I was craving it during our trip. It’s a delicious thin pancake filled with shrimp, a little pork, egg, bean sprouts, wrapped in rice paper, lettuce and dipped in a sauce. Mmm!

Of course, there is always the reliable and cheap bowl of pho. It’s a great breakfast food and it was especially common and good in northern Vietnam.

We had a variation with fried fish and it was incredible! This one was at Quan An Ngon, a restaurant that we went to during our Hanoi Kids Tour.

I love how the food is pretty simple-just lots of fresh herbs and greens. We took a cooking class through the Four Seasons Resort Hoi An, which, by the way, was one of the best places we’ve ever stayed!

We toured their garden, then took a van to town to shop at the old market. Then, we came back to the resort and whipped up four delicious dishes in their very impressive kitchen.

And the mangoes…mmm! We could not get enough! And now that we’ve been traveling through SE Asia, we are able to taste the difference between lots of different mangoes from different parts of Vietnam and Asia. Our favorites were the mangoes that we had in Cambodia followed by a specific variety that came from a northern province of Vietnam.

Here is a link to different mango varieties-just in case you are interested.

Speaking of Mango…

We had dinner one night at Mango Mango in Hoi An. It’s Vietnamese fusion with Latin twist. They had live music downstairs, an open kitchen upstairs and a friendly staff. (Also had lots of cool fans and a very clean bathroom!) The Spring rolls were incredible!

Of course, you can’t have food without having drinks…

Egg coffee is a Hanoi specialty. It’s strong Vietnamese coffee with whisked egg yolk on top. It was created in the 1940’s when milk was scarce in Vietnam.

FrosĂ©-where have you been all my life? Had my first one at The Bamboo Bar at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. (Yes, I know this isn’t a traditional Vietnamese drink but it was so good that it’s worth mentioning!)

I had coconut juice several times but this huge and ice cold coconut in Hoi An was my favorite. I had them cut it up when I was done so I could eat it! I was extremely hot and sweaty in this picture and the coconut was really cold so I’m happy here!

There is no shortage of delicious food in Vietnam. You will love it!

Hectic Hanoi

I’m just a small town girl…

So I found the hustle and bustle of our 4 days in Hanoi (and the people riding scooters the sidewalks!) to be a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, it was exciting and vibrant.

There was action all day and night and my brain was on stimulation overload!

Tip-Be very careful walking on the sidewalks (scooters!) and crossing the street. Yikes! Yellow lights apparently mean speed up and red lights mean nothing.

In Hanoi, you will see thousands of scooters, motorbikes, some cars, busses, trucks, bicycles and pedicabs. All going different directions at times.

And you will see people carrying everything on motorbikes-dogs, babies, families of 4 or 5, bags of rice, produce, metal pipes, baskets-you name it! (Makes me wonder why so many Americans need giant trucks, SUV’s and minivans for their small families.)

While in Hanoi, we stayed in a luxurious and peaceful oasis in the French quarter.

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel-a beautiful hotel, which opened in 1901 and is right next to the Hanoi Opera House.

The service was over the top amazing! I can’t rave enough about the excellent and attentive staff and luxury accommodations. Wow!

The pool area was my favorite way to spend every afternoon.

Sipping on a cold, pink Frose wasn’t bad either!

Another very cool thing about the hotel was the historical tour that is given exclusively to hotel guests each evening. The tour concludes with a few minutes in a bomb shelter, built during the Vietnam War, and only discovered during a hotel renovation 6 years ago. Don’t let the grins fool you. The tour was very moving for all of us.

We spent a fantastic (also very hot!) morning with Kim and Cookie, our tour guides from Hanoi Kids. This tour group, private tours guided by college students, is fantastic. I highly recommend them. Look them up on TripAdvisor-all the glowing recommendations are well earned!

They took us to the Temple of Literature . This is where Vietnam’s first National university, the Imperial Academy is held. It was built in 1070 and is dedicated to Confucius.

We also went to Hoa Lo Prison, which was quite interesting. In Vietnam, what Americans call the Vietnam War, is referred to as the “American War”, by the way.

We found the Vietnamese people to be very friendly. The attitude of the younger generation seems that maybe they don’t care about the American War and it’s just history. The older generations haven’t forgotten but seem to have forgiven.

You will find propaganda at the museum and you might not like it. You will just have to visit and form your own opinion! I prefer to try to keep my blog positive!

Kim and Cookie gave us some insight about women on scooters in Hanoi.

According to our guides, women prefer scooters over motorbikes because they don’t have any gears and the scooters have a place to stow purses etc.

Also, they don’t just wear masks for pollution, but rather to cover up and not get too much sun. Many women are completely covered head to toe. They are referred to as “bike ninjas”.

Many women ride sidesaddle. Very impressive!

Keeping the sun off your skin is something we started coming across in Singapore. Funny because I just want to be nice and tan!

We even saw many places selling whitening sunscreen.

Another excursion we took while in Hanoi was to the Museum of Ethnology. It focuses on 54 officially recognized ethnic groups within Vietnam. It preserves cultural heritage and has very cool outdoor replicas of homes as well as lovely gardens and a water puppet theater.

You can read more about water puppet theater and how it’s unique to Vietnam and dates back centuries. We even got to try it.

There is a night market in the Old Quarter every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go because Friday was our last night in Hanoi and there was a massive thunderstorm complete with pouring rain and some minor power outages. Got to save something for next time, I guess!

Next up…Hoi An and it’s lovely lanterns and a day trip to Hue