Monday, January 4, 2010

Eating on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam Part 1 - Dong Xuan Weekend Market

I have been misled into negative thoughts about Vietnam, having watched too many war movies of Viet-US war that portrayed the Americans as heroes. After a visit to Cambodia and Vietnam, I only realised that in a war, victory was only for the people or person sitting high up there. For the people below who wielded the weapons of destruction, there was no victory, only death and memories of pain and suffering. I am glad I visited Vietnam. This trip busted my misled cushy Singaporean mind about Vietnam and most of all, it helped to refute the advice about how the street food gets you stuck in the rest room. If the Luxe guide for Hanoi recommended some street food, it shouldn't be that bad right? I need to put a caveat here as HY's and my stomachs may have more immunity than others. So, do tread the water with some caution.

HY and I took the chance. We were cautious on the first day of the trip, venturing only into Pho shop with air conditioning. What kind of street food is that then when you had the comforts of air conditioning?

When we stepped into the Dong Xuan weekend night market, we got more adventurous as the food we saw were so enticing that we cave in. This was when the door opened and we started to roam the streets for food rather than sticking to the safer, “posher” restaurants that are not where local Vietnamese have their meals. One street food tip that we did take note and followed through, especially when my Vietnamese friend did caution, was to avoid raw food, including fresh vegetables.

At Dong Xuan weekend market, there was the road side pho stall where many locals were enjoying their pho despite the weekend crowd walking pass. This pho stall was full. Vacant seats were quickly taken up. We didn't eat here though.

Somewhere near the pho stall, was a lady that sells steamed pork bun. When you buy a bun from her, she’ll peel off the paper that was used as a base for steaming and then pass the bun to you in a plastic bag. HY love this steamed bun as there was lots of bun and little pork filling. She would like it even more if there was all bun and no pork at all.

As we walked further into Dong Xuan, and further away from Hoan Kiem lake, there was this stall that was selling cakes and burgers. The burgers looked too delicious for us to ignore, especially with an empty growling stomach. Sandwiched between the buns was a piece of ham and some tuna paste.

Amidst more shopping for souvenirs, we were about 2/3 done with the walking street, there was a mobile food stall that was selling skewered meat just like our satays. It was 1000 dong per stick. With 4 sticks of skewered grilled pork in a baguette, the cost was 10000 dong. The crispy baguette taste great with the flavoured filling inside. The ultimate, however, was the spicy sauce that was splattered on, just before this lady below (on her mobile) handed us our skewer/baguette.

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