Before going to Hanoi I had only eating Vietnamese food once, but the food was definitely one of the biggest things John and I were looking forward to, and looking back eating is the majority of what we did on the trip.
Our very first morning in Hanoi we took a street food tour with Mark from Hanoi Street Food Tours, and it was such an incredible experience! I'll be honest, I had a lot of reservations about doing the tour. The tour cost $75 per person, which, in my world, is just a lot to spend for a meal no matter what and street food is just so cheap! I really struggled to see how it could be worth the money. And we were setting out at 8:00 am, who spends $75 on breakfast I wondered? Would I even be hungry at that time of day? Raku and her husband had done the tour before and tried to assure me that it really would be worth it, but I couldn't let go of my skepticism. Piece of advice: don't be as skeptical as me, if you have the chance LEAP at it! This tour made the trip for me, and when you think about the price of hotels and flights, $75 is not so much to pay to ensure an incredible experience with delicious memories.
The tours last three hours, and are so much fun. What you're paying for is, without question, Mark or Tu's personal expertise. They know where the most delicious food is, they know how to give you a broad overview of Vietnamese food, and they are sure of the cleanliness. It was so much fun to sit down on little plastic stools on the side of the street or is busy alleys and dig into all sorts of dishes. If we had been on our own I wouldn't have had the slightest idea where to start, I would have probably been to scared to eat in any of these places, and I certainly wouldn't have known what to order. Instead, I never felt a moment's hesitation, I'm happy to report that none of us had any upset stomaches afterwards, and my only regret is that John wasn't able to come because he was stuck in the hotel with food poisoning. The tour gives you a chance to try tons of dishes, you're never expected to finish anything because you're basically grazing for three hours straight. This is great because if you end up not liking a particular dish, it's absolutely a non-issue, though often I had the opposite problem and had to make myself stop eating to save room for additional stops. If you're looking for more information, this article from the New York Times is where Raku first learned about the tours.
Besides the food, we were really excited for Vietnamese coffee. Vietnamese coffee is usually served with a thick layer of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of the cup, whether it's hot or iced. I think this is because for so long it was hard to keep fresh milk on hand, but cans of condensed milk can just sit out at room temperature until they've been opened. And more importantly, it's delicious! We also tried a couple of more unique vietnamese coffees. One was sort of like afogato - coffee served on top of frozen yogurt, so delicious and very refreshing in the heat. We had this at Cong Caphe which is a chain of coffee shops that are communist themed, but I think a number of places serve it. We also had egg coffees at Giang Cafe. When I first heard the name I didn't know what to expect, but this is not a scrambled egg on top of your coffee, it's a thick zabaglione style custard cream served on top of coffee. Yum!
|Bun Ca - noodle soup with fried fish and dill - my favorite dish of the tour!|
|Pho - the slices of beef were so big and SO tender|
|There's always a bowl of mixed herbs on the table to eat with your food|
|Pork and noodles stall|
|Coconut frozen yogurt coffee at Cong Caphe|
|Egg coffee at Giang Cafe|
|Giang Cafe - so beautiful!|
Read About The Rest of Our Trip:
Places We Enjoyed:
Pho Tu Lun
23 Hai Bà Trưng, Hàng Bài, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam