Street Snacker: Banh My Sot Vang

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Whenever you want to eat local food, which eatery in your mind can satisfy your craving? When it comes to Banh my, the eatery in my mind is Banh My Thien Su – Banh My Sot Vang Dinh Ngang. The article was published on Word Vietnam Magazine Issue October 2013. Photos by Francis Roux.

As the street corners in Hanoi start feeling the onset of autumn, things start to get a little romantic. Streets are filled with yellow leaves, trees quiver in the light breeze and the air is perfumed with that special aroma of milky flower.

Then there are the yellow-painted buildings left over from the French colonial era. But autumn isn’t just in this faded yellow atmosphere — it’s also in the French-originated dishes which have become part of the Hanoi street food tradition.

Among these dishes, there’s one that is ideal for enjoying in the cool breeze of an early October morning, or at night, when the weather brings lovers closer. It is banh my sot vang — beef stew in red wine sauce, served with bread.

This dish is typical of French cuisine adapted to Vietnamese tastes. It’s based on beef au vin or beef bourguignon, a traditional French stew prepared with beef braised in red Burgundy wine. Sot vang also has a red wine base. However, it differs from the original in spice and seasoning. Instead of herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme, warm spices like cinnamon, star anise and cardamom are used.

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Street Food: Chao Trai

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You are so hungry after a long day of work in breezing October? You wanna an afternoon soup before dinner? My answer for you is Chao Trai. This article was published on Word Hanoi magazine – Issue October 2013. Photo by Francis Roux.

November is when Hanoi says goodbye to autumn and welcomes winter. The pleasant mild and cool weather is said to tempt people to eat — just thinking of hot rice porridge or steaming rice dumplings warms you up while riding back from work. Not surprisingly, at this time of year, mid-afternoon snacks are popular with Hanoians.

This has been an intrinsic feature of the capital since the 1980s. These hot foods were once sold by street vendors with shoulder poles along street pavements, or by ladies sitting at street corners with tiny chairs. They have now been largely replaced by eateries. Some Hanoians are skeptical — when these snacks are sold in large amounts, they say, they don’t taste nearly as good as they do on the small food stands. However, there are some eateries where the taste of the food remains unchanged. One place selling clam rice porridge or chao trai on Tran Xuan Soan is an example.

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