Because Hanoi was a French colony once upon a time, here you get the best of both worlds. Naturally, it boasts of excellent Vietnamese streetfood which can be had at ridiculously cheap prices. However, Hanoi is perhaps better known for its many mid-range and fine dining French restaurants.
Fried egg rolls, shrimp and vegetable spring rolls wrapped in rice paper (both from Little Hanoi) , yummy Vietnamese coffee (also called Vietnamese 'drip') (from Old Hanoi).
Middle row from L to R:
Pho noodles (Pho24) , Fig's fritter with Gorgonzola cheese served with serrano ham ( to die for!); Scallops cooked with galangal roots and lemongrass juice, balsamic caviar dressed on a checkerboard of pumpkins and aubergines (both from Green Tangerine)
Bottom row from L to R:
Shrimps marinated with orange flower essence, crusted with orange peel served with a poached apple in Curracao liquor (Green Tangeine); cha-ca (Cha Ca La Vong); pork fillet rolled in blackcurrant and "ngo"herb served with sliced pumpkins cooked with homemade cereals.
Restaurants and cafes worth checking out:
The Green Tangerine at 48 Hang Be (left) is a quaint and charming French fusion restaurant in the Old Quarter. I vowed I wouldn't leave Hanoi without dining here.
We walked through the gates into a romantic courtyard that literally took my breath away.
They take their food styling seriously here as you can see in the pictures above. It wasn't all aestehtics either, the food was superb. I highly recommend the Fig's fritter with gorgonzola cheese.
The Tamarind Cafe at 80 Ma May is the perfect place to take a break from all the shopping and sight-seeing. We lounged on throw pillows while we sipped smoothies and coffee, and ordered cake and ice cream, all to share of course.
Meat lovers be warned: it only serves vegetarian meals. This cafe best known for it's smoothies and fruit juices offers free wifi internet access and guide books on Vietnam are also available for browsing while you dine.
Cafe des Arts on 11b Ngo Bao Khanh is a French bistro cum art gallery. It is quite reasonably priced and if you want to get value for your money, you can choose to order a set menu which includes an appetizer, a main course and dessert all for only $10.00.
I opted for the set menu ordering the Chef's pate, the steak with frites and creme brulee. I couldn't restrain myself though from ordering the Brie de Meaux ( my favorite cheese in the world, no wonder it is the king of cheeses) which was excellent!
Cha Ca La Vong on 14 Cha Ca is the oldest restaurant in Vietnam - since 1871- spanning five generations. It is so famous, the street was even named after it. Cha Ca is a fish and noodle dish cooked with tumeric, dill, noodles, spring onions, peanuts and the special Vietnamese sweet sauce all of which you throw in and mix yourself. It was excellent and a trip to Hanoi is not complete without a visit to Cha Ca La Vong.
The only drawback was that the hot coals made us feel like we were frying along with the fish, and when we turned the electric fan above us on, it blew ash everywhere. So we had to endure the heat , but the entire experience was well worth it!
Written on the back of their business card:
Cha Ca, a special dish, first made by the family Doan in Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong restuarant has been open through five generations for over one hundred years and has now become very famous at home and abroad.
Cha Ca has been so appreciated that the street is named afterwards.
Cha Ca La Vong is the only three restaurants to serve authentic Cha Ca in Vietnam and has no branches.
For upscale dining, head on over to Wild Rice at 6 Ngo Thi Nham where the service is superb. The decor is decidedly unique, a blend of Zen chic and homey- a stone fireplace surrounded by tall bamboo trees behind glass walls and stark white walls displaying exquisite art. Wild Rice offers contemporary Vietnamese cuisine served in a straight forward manner. We all loved the soft shell crab.
Up Next: Ha Long Bay