If I thought that Hong Kong was an assault to one’s senses then Hanoi is a vigorous onslaught.  We got to our hotel in the late afternoon and began our exploration immediately with Tu from Hanoi Street Food.   We usually do our own thing but we were with friends and opted for some supervision from someone other than me.  We had an incredible experience and I’d go out with Tu again and again.

We walked over to our first stop, his favorite coffee shop to have an egg coffee.  I would not have found this place in a million years.  On the way over we walked through the old city where the main streets are closed off for the weekend so people can freely roam with friends and family.  So many young kids having a blast.  Our coffee shop was through an alley, up two flights of stairs and voila.  Not sure why the egg coffee has not found itself to NYC.   I could see myself having one of these treats every afternoon….and for the serious pickup, just add a little chocolate on top.

Our next stop was this shop.

They make only one thing….green mango salad with an option of meat, chicken or fish jerky on top.  Spicy, full of flavor and excellent.  Could I tell you the name of place?  Nope.  We were moving quickly.  Although the cars and electric scooters on the street never stop, no lights or stop signs, there is a cadence to getting across the street.  You just go, slowly with a purpose, and all the vehicles seem to slow down with you.  First try, is a bit scary but after that you just fall into the rhythm.

The scooters carry full families and sometimes dogs.

This double green doorway is two homes.  One on the right and one on the left.  Gives you an idea of why most people hang on the street and set up their dining room table on the street too.  Also, when these homes were built, people were taxed on the width of their house.  Now they are charged on full square footage.

We had our food made from this woman and her wok outside her shop but we ate it across the street.

Excellent vermicelli noodles mixed with crushed peanuts, vinegar, cilantro and fresh eel on top.

This I have never seen before.  Fresh sugarcane being squished into juice.

Sweet and honestly refreshing.

Here they are making rice pancakes and filling them with mushrooms.

Loved them.

Then down an obscure alleyway into this small square shop with a few chairs.  Upstairs people eat in her bedroom when the place is overflowing at lunch.

We had a chicken salad with a tart vinegar although the chicken here was a bit tough, the cabbage was good.

Our last stop of the night was Ne.  The owner won for best cocktail bartender in all of Vietnam.

We were all hot, sweaty and slightly acclimated to Hanoi before making our way back to bed.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Terry

    Hope you find time while in Hanoi to take in a water puppet show.

  2. gsilberman

    Crossing the streets in Hanoi was quite an adventure!!!

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. scottythebody

      The whole “crossing the street” thing in Vietnam is unreal. I did it with a baby in a stroller and a five year old once. That, my friends, maybe wasn’t the best idea. And the other thing is that the sidewalks themselves aren’t necessarily a safe space because if the traffic on the street gets too insane, the motorbikes and scooters start taking the sidewalks, too.

  3. Erin

    Wow! Have fun. The food looks good.

  4. William Mougayar

    Too bad Vietnamese cuisine keeps struggling to find the upper echelons in North America, while its essence is very unique and creative.

    1. awaldstein

      Vietnamese is everywhere though I agree not on the foodies trendy lists.Just as well and a big fan with my local spot the best soup in the neighborhood.Rainy day today and I think soup and dumplings for dinner will be the call.

      1. Gotham Gal

        what’s your fave Vietnamese spot in NYC?

        1. awaldstein

          I learned to love Thai first in Vancouver then at the original Slanted Door in the Mission in SF so when in Brooklyn I go to Bricolage in Park Slope.Local in TriBeCa there is only Viet Cafe. Not a great restaurant but really great soups and dumplings which is my rainy/snowy day takeout.I envy you this trip to Vietnam. Never been but wanted to dive there for a long time.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Thai is more widespread than Vietnamese food. I suspect you can find some pretty good Vietnamese food in LA.

          2. awaldstein

            You are right. I’ve obviously lost my mind a bit.Will search for remnants of it.

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup, I was talking about higher end stuff. I think it was better in the 80’s when the first generation of Vietnamese arrived at the end of the war and it was more authentic. But as if their siblings didn’t carry it forward.

        1. awaldstein

          Think you are right.Go to less and less high end and more and more local places all the time.Fell for Asian food when I lived in Vancouver when Asa was a baby as the noodle houses where the only place I could take a toddler and they were completely at peace with him making a mess.Need to do an Airbnb in Vancouver soon and see some old friends as I was deep in the poetry and pirate radio scene when there and my buddies are still in the arts world.

          1. William Mougayar

            Make sure you swing by the Okanagan if you can.

          2. awaldstein

            Asa was born in Vernon.Love the Northern Okanagan. Was a formative time for me.Lived in Trinity Valley out of Lumby/Cherryville area, then Mara at the northern tip of the valley.

          3. William Mougayar

            it’s more developed now, especially the wine region…though some raw patches still exist. it would be interesting to get your impressions on how it evolved since you were there.

          4. awaldstein

            I need to go and visit again for certain.When I was first there (been back over the years) there was no wine being made there that I knew of.Back then of course I knew nothing about wine–though lots about mead as I was a beekeeper.

  5. AMT Editorial Staff

    Incredible. We find all of these eats WAY WAY more appealing than what you posted about Hong Kong.

  6. pointsnfigures

    Had that sugarcane juice in Singapore. Le Colonial in Chicago is a pretty good Vietnamese place.

  7. Tom Labus

    Have you read “The Sympathizer”Read during late summer and still thinking about it a lot

  8. steve cheney

    Really want to make it out to Hanoi. Looks amazing.

  9. scottythebody

    You are definitely doing my favorite thing to do in Vietnam — eat street food! Love it so much. As often as I go to Thailand, and as delicious as the food is there, I still think my best “street eats” of all time happened in Vietnam. And it’s not only that. The restaurants, shophouses, food stalls, and everything else were pretty much universally great. If you go to Saigon/HCMC, I have a couple tips 🙂