When my friend Rej said he was planning an Eat, Pray, Love kind of trip around Asia and that Vietnam would be the "eat" portion of the trip, I kindly asked if I could join him. I have always wanted to go but never really got around to actually making it happen. (You know, sometimes life gets in the way) Anyway, naturally, Rej said yes.
Two months later, we found ourselves in Hanoi, Vietnam. In 19-20°C weather. And a backpack filled with summer outfits. I had a few hours to kill at the Noi Bai International Airport (Rej's flight was arriving a few hours after mine) and kept wondering why everyone was all bundled up in coats, scarves, and boots. For some reason, I thought 19°C was warm. (Which it is, I guess, depending on which country you're from) Haha! Facepalm.
This was our home for the weekend. Cloudy, our AirBnB host, was the kindest and we absolutely loved staying at her place. If you're looking for a place to stay in Hanoi the link is here. She's in a little corner of the Old Quarter and we literally only had to walk to wherever we wanted to go (except for the airport).
After settling in, Rej and I went outside to begin our little adventure of stuffing our faces with pho, bahn mi, spring rolls, and TONS of coffee.
Our first meal in Hanoi obviously had to be pho! We sat on tiny, red plastic stools on the sidewalk and our orders came out from an alley across the street.
On our first night there, we decided to get some beers near our place just to check out the nightlife. It was insane how packed Beer Street got in the evenings. You'd literally be rubbing elbows with the people over at the next table. Like, what personal space?
For breakfast on our second day, we woke up early to look for Giang Cafe. Another friend of mine who had already been to Hanoi said we HAD to go there for their egg coffee (Ca Phe Trung). And, boy, was it a game changer. I didn't even want to drink any other kind of coffee after.
According to Google, the delicious drink was invented in the 1900s by a man who worked for the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Vietnam. Milk was hard to come by at the time so they used whisked egg yolks as substitutes. His son now makes the egg coffee at Giang Cafe.
We also bought doner kebabs for breakfast (Erwan Heussaff suggested it in his Hanoi vlog so we thought we'd try it.) It was really good. And we got to watch them prepare potato fries which they boiled, coated, and fried on the street.
Then we walked all the way to the Hoan Kiem district and French Quarter to get lunch.
This is what we had for dinner on, I believe, our last night there. It was crazy! We got an order each plus a plate of spring rolls and were seated at this tiny table on the sidewalk, sandwiched between two men. When they served the food, Rej and I both went, "Whoa!" And both men smirked at our reaction. I took that as a challenge and made sure I didn't have any leftovers. I mean, have they met me and Rej? (That was a rhetorical question. Obviously they haven't.) It was really good though. You could have rolled me back to Cloudy's after.
Aaaand saving the best for last (sort of), so pho in Vietnam is really good, natch. You could go anywhere and get a decent bowl even if you eat on the street. But if you want insanely delicious pho go to Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su. This is another one from Erwan Heussaff's vlog. Rej watched it several times and it was like the only one he really remembered. Thank God. Haha!
Don't forget to ask for the fried breadsticks (I think they're called quay)!
This one below was suggested by Cloudy. She gave us a whole list of restaurants to try including another pho restaurant that was located just a few steps from her place. We didn't get to try that but it's something to look forward to when I go back some day.
You can order custom stamps from this store that's located along Beer Street (pictured above on the right). They've got a catalog of designs and you can ask them to add your name or a word to it.
You were pho-king amazing, Hanoi! Till next time! (Sorry, couldn't help it.)
Some photos taken by Rej Cruz