My new years resolution this year is to eat a new dish every day. I do this because I want to showcase the plethora and variety of different cuisines in Ha Noi and to encourage myself to keep trying them. Every year I’ve found new and different dishes that have wowed me and titillated my taste buds but now I’m no longer willing to wait, I’m plunging head first into Hanoi foody culture by eating every dish I can find in the hopes of eating it all.
So far though, every time I scratch a new dish off the list 8 more take its place. Like some kind of cuisine hydra popping up and challenging me with its over abundance of calories and chili peppers.
For the first 6 days of the year these are the dishes.
Day 1 : Pho Ga from the famous Pho Hang.
To Celebrate the new year we went out and had the most well known Vietnamese dish. Pho Ga, but apparently we went with a twist by going to the famous Hang’s Pho Ga place off Yen Phu. Pho usually a very light dish had an extra additive of an egg I don’t really understand. Still delicious!
Ok, this one caused a large argument over what they were with our Vietnamese friend. Mostly he took to making fun of us for not realizing this is how eggs formed inside then hen during slaughter. Anyways they were absolutely a pure bliss of melted yolk.
Day 2 : Bún ốc
Meaning “Bun Noodles with Snail”. A quick stop on my way home gives me this delicious treat. I meant to stop over for a Pho Bo but as I parked my bike I noticed this Bun Stall. Bun noodles more rounded and less absorbing than their Pho counterpart, for me, are much more filling and satisfying. Hard to Resist. Accompanied by a bowl of vegetables(including Banana Flower), Garlic Chili Vinegar and a deeply spicy chili oil, I chowed down on the flavorful dish. These snails had a bit of a crunch to them but thankfully not the grimy sandy sensation some get, the tender beef and soft tofu were a great add(and the real reason for me ordering it).
Day 3 : Pho binh thuong
Pho Ga with mixed Chicken meat. Thicker, heavier and more filling than the common Pho Ga served to most foreigners. As it turns out word has spread that foreigners prefer the white meat of chicken and to help accommodate its the meal we will most likely get when ordering Pho Ga. While this is polite in its own way it hides away a true Pho with all the meat. Along with this dish we were served the innards of a chicken and boiled chicken. Delicious!
During this meal we actually loaded ourselves down with organ meat(Also not generally served to foreigners), and a boiled chicken. For years I’ve sworn up and down I hate eating it, but for years I’ve been struggling to hold the pieces up with Chopsticks and failing only to be told, “Oh… We eat it with our hands.” Turns out its cut in a special way to ensure a tiny bone on each piece to hold onto.
Day 4 : Bun Ca
Deepfried Anabas Fish mixed with morning glory, Bun, broth and spices. I don’t know how many times i can say Excellent and Savory but this is the reason i love Ha Noi. This fish flakes off the the deep fried bits offer the most wonderful dip and crunch in this flavorful bowl of goodness.
Learned two cool facts that day. 2. They fish itself can survive outside of the water for up 6-8 hours due to a special organ that will process oxygen.
2. Across the street at the Dong Da Mound was the place of a massive battle in 1788 between the Chinese and Vietnamese. They held strong with a fraction of the size of the Chinese Army and still managed to win. The defeat was so humiliating that the Chinese General committed suicide. The King of Vietnam then ordered the roughly 100,000 dead Chinese to be placed into 12 mounds throughout the city, one of which was across the way from the Bun Ca place we were eating at. Very big and open hill that’s great for taking the kids to play!
A first for me! Bun noodles and Musk duck with coagulated blood, and Bamboo. This one starts off tasting like a real traditional chicken noodle soup. Add the Calamansi from the chopstick(Cross between a Mandarin and a lime) and suddenly it warps into a real unique treat. We will be going back for this dish in the future, it was like a fruity greasy love affair with a splash of orange(from the calamansi)
Day 6: Bun Hai San Dac Biet
Seafood Bun noodles with Fish Sausage(further translation needed). Herein lies a little fish fillet, shrimp, mantis shrimp and two kinds of fish sausage or fish baloney.
Noodles and seafood were great, the broth carried a sour taste as if it had been cooked with lemongrass to compliment the seafood. Very different from the other Bun Dishes. Got it to go and the major kept trying to steal both types of shrimp.
To be frank I felt the broth was more for the noodles and fish and not for sipping. Alone the sourness was the focal point so unlike the other buns on this list we didn’t slurp down the broth till it was done.
So thank you for reading. If you’ve any recommendation or ideas or want to join on an excursion just let us know. There’s so much food to be eaten and I’m always looking for company to help with this crusade.