Banh gio Ha Noi

Hanoian’s like to snack. And when it comes to their favourite bites, banh gio, a savoury, pyramid-like dumpling found all over the capital, sits top of the pile. Words by me. Edits by Nick Ross. Photos by Vu Bao Khanh. The article is published on Word Vietnam issue July 2015.

Photo credits: Vu Bao Khanh.

Photo credits: Vu Bao Khanh.

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La Patisserie Chez Moi

When it comes to Hanoi’s experience of bakeries, besides big names like Nguyen Son bakery, Thu Huong, which are bakery chains for take away, small patisseries opened by local pastry chefs often showcase their cake display cases near the road, so that passers-by can see their cakes. Therefore, it is not easy to find patisseries with windows full of glorious gateaux, charming chocolates and other tempting treats. To me, that kind of pastry shops is exactly what would offer cake and tea experiences that satisfy my sweet cravings. On searching petite pastry like that, La Patisserie Chez Moi is the one that makes me keep coming back.

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Photos by: Julie Vola – Word Vietnam Issue May 2015.

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Bo Bit Tet Hoe Nhai

If you are looking for dishes with a “perfect marriage” between the western-originated food and local ingredients — which typically include Vietnamese fish sauce. My suggestions are banh my sot vang and bo bit tet. Words by me. Edits by Nick Ross. Photos by Julie Vola.The article was originally published on Word Vietnam issue April 2015 EAT-IMG_7418-Street-Snacker-Hanoi-BO-Bit-Tet-Hoe-Nhai-APR15-JV

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Street food: My Van Than

From Chinese import to a Hanoi staple, wonton noodles or my van than are found all over the capital. Words by me. Edits by Nick Ross. Photos by Julie Vola. The article is originally published in Word Vietnam Issue March 2015. 

My van than. Photos by Julie Volia.

My van than. Photos by Julie Vola – Word Vietnam.

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Street food: Bún Thang

As Tet is on its way, one dish that can’t be without: Bun Thang! Words by me. Edits by Nick Ross. Photos by Julia Vola. The article is originally published on Word Vietnam Issue February

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As the Vietnamese New Year gets close, people rush to the market to stock up on traditional food for Tet. Among the signature dishes prepared in Hanoi are chung cake or banh chung, Vietnamese-style ham or gio cha, sticky rice, chicken, dried bamboo shoots and bun thang, which is vermicelli noodle soup with chicken, pork and egg.
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Street food: Vietnamese dipping sauce

Bursting with characters and oozing with taste, dipping sauces are key component of Vietnamese cuisine. But what if they were a lady, what kind of lady would they be? I dip my way through the sauces and discover the women behind the condiments. Word by me. Edits by Nick Ross. Photos by Francis Roux. The article was originally published on Word Vietnam Issue December 2013

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Street food: Nam 76

Mushroom, mushroom and more mushroom! Words by me. Edits by Nick Ross. The article was originally published on Word Hanoi Issue June 2013

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Photo credit: Nam Viet 76 Lo Duc’s Facebook Page.

“Image you are on the hunt for mushroom in the forest, and oops, there appeared rare type like chanterelles or truffle. It would be absolutely breathtaking” my French friend eagerly told me with his bright and excited eyes when asked about mushroom hunting in France. “You can easily find a wide range of edible mushrooms in France’s fields and forests”.
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Street Food: Nom bo kho

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Papaya salad with dried beef anyone? Photos by David Harris. Words by me, edited by Nick Ross. The article was published on Word Vietnam magazine – Issue August 2014.

“What impresses you most about Vietnamese cuisine?” I ask a foreign friend who’s been in Vietnam for three months, just long enough to grasp what it’s like to live as a local.

“Fish sauce,” he replies.

After a pause he explains his response.

“I don’t exactly mean raw fish sauce — it’s too salty and strong for me,” he says. “It’s the diverse way Vietnamese use fish sauce in their cooking, blending the raw fish sauce with other condiments to make up a light sauce. The sauces all look the same, but taste so different.”

He is correct. Large numbers of Vietnamese dishes contain light fish sauce, such as mixed noodle dishes like mien tron, pho ga tron or bun bo Nam Bo. Light fish sauce is also an essential ingredient when we eat spring rolls, banh tom Ho Tay and nom.

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Street food: Pho ga tron

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A variation on the noble pho, pho ga tron is popular with Hanoians in the summer months. Words by me. Photos by David Harris. The article was published on Word Vietnam Magazine Issue July 2014.

Pho originated in the early 20th century in the northern province of Nam Dinh, and has since become a signature Hanoian dish. Over the past century it has developed a diverse range of variations. Not only are there pho noodles with broth — pho bo (beef pho) or pho ga (chicken pho) — but other offerings such as pho cuon, pho chien, pho xao and pho chay. Among these diverse choices, pho ga tron or mixed pho with chicken is a modern variation on a traditional favourite. If pho ga is eaten at breakfast to start off a new day, then pho ga tron is its younger sibling, best eaten for dinner.

With a changed way of combining ingredients, the cool mixed noodles are more suitable for the hot summers than its version with hot broth. Rich in taste, light but appetizing, pho ga tron is the perfect choice for the sweaty Hanoi weather of June, July and August.

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Street Food: Che Thai

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You are a fan of Che Thai Lan? Check out this so-called only eatery in the capital selling authentic Thai-style sweet soup. The article was published on Word Vietnam magazine – Issue June 2014. Photos by Teresa Welleans.

As the weather defines our appetite, summer could be called the season of drinking, rather than eating. This explains why during the summer months, Hanoi is so rich in different types of drinks. From nuoc mia or sugar cane juice to tra da, tra chanh or iced tea, lemon tea and che or sweet soup, these drinks can be seen on almost every street in the capital.

Of the summer drinks, my favourite is che. Personally, I don’t think the word ‘soup’ expresses the correct meaning of this concoction. Che is certainly not an appetizer and it’s neither savoury nor condensed — it’s an any-time-of-the-day drink. You can give yourself a treat in the morning, also a dessert after lunch, or afternoon tea, even for supper in the late evening while wandering around the Old Quarter.

Traditional sweet soups include black bean, green peas or lotus seeds with the scented smell of jasmine. But in recent years, imported versions are becoming popular. Besides Singaporean bobo-chacha, and various versions from Malaysia or Hong Kong, Thailand sweet soup, known as che Thai, has garnered a following. Available at eateries on Doi Can, Giang Vo, Hang Than and in Nam Dong Market, it is however only at the eatery on Kim Ma where diners can enjoy an authentic Thailand-like experience.

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