SOME SPECIAL DISHES (SPECIALITIES) OF HANOI - www.batin.com.vn

SOME SPECIAL DISHES (SPECIALITIES) OF HANOI

The inhabitants of Hanoi are known, since old days, as sophisticated and selective in their diet preferences, and specialties of Hanoi have been famous. Certain dishes are served in all parts of the country: lean meat pies, perfumed meat pies, fermented cork rolls, fried meat pies, noodles soup, soft noodle soup (bun), rolls... But gourmets find that the same dishes prepared in Hanoi are more delicious. For example, soft noodles served with meat pies would be more appreciated by customers if they are accompanied with mint leaves from Lang, a village near Hanoi. Below are descriptions of dishes which can be found only in Hanoi or dishes the flavor of which is further enhanced if prepared in Hanoi: fried dish pie, grilled green rice cakes, soft noodles with snail soup "thang" soft noodle soup, rolls.., etc.

LA-VONG GRILLED FISH PIE

This is a specialty of Hanoi and more precisely of Cha Ca Road (fried fish road). Hanoi now has several shops selling this dish, but no one of them can equal the Cha Ca Road shop in terms of quality and flavor. In ancient days, this was a street where were sold paints, and therefore was named as the Paints Street. By the end of the,19th century, the Doan family, located at house No,14 of this Street, hit upon a new idea: to sell fried fish pie served with soft noodles and seasoning. Encouraged by the appreciation of customers, the family specialized in this trade, and the shop was called as "Cha ca La Vong shop" as a wooden statue of an old fisherman (La Vong) holding a fishing rod and a string of fish stands at the door. As the specialty grew famous with every passing day, the street was renamed by the people as Cha Ca Street (fried fish pie street). While the guest sit down at the table, the waiter starts laying t here some seasoning cowls: a cowl of prawn paste mixed up with lemon and a few drops of liquor to give it flagrancy, and decorated a few drops of liquor to give it flagrancy, and decorated by a few slices of red fresh pimento (chili), a plate of grilled ground nuts of gold yellow color, various species of mint vegetables from Lang village; onions in small white slices having the form of tuberose. Added to this is a plate of soft noodle in thin small and white threads. To many customers, the sight of such seasoning already greatly stimulates their appetite. A few minutes later, fried fish, yellow in color and flagrant in smell, put on a plate of anethum vegetable is brought in. But that ii not all. A few seconds more a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in and the waiter start pouring some boiling fat on each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a flagrant smoke and sputtering noise. Further, some drops of coleopterous are dropped on the bowl giving it a special smell which is unforgettable to connoisseurs. Grilled fish are usually chosen from certain species of fish: pimelode, sturgeon (nganh), (qua).., and (lang) fish. The flesh of (nganh) fish is not solid, that of pimelode fish lacks flagrancy, (qua) fish has too many cones which make it difficult to take out all the flesh. Only the (lang) fish is ideal for the dish as its flesh is sweet and tasty, solid and flagrant. The fish must be carefully prepared before grilling. Galingale and saffron must be ground mixed with water and filtered through a piece of clean cloth in order to obtain a solution to which is added some drops of rice ferment and fish sauce of good quality. Then, the fish meat is immersed in this solution for two hours before grilling. Grilling must be done by means of pairs of bamboo tongs placed on a stove of burning charcoals. The fish meat must be grilled on oath sides and brought in to the guests when it is duly grilled. As a dish, La Vong grilled fish pie is indeed a remarkable culinary invention.

GRILLED GREEN RICE AND GREEN RICE CAKES

Initially, green rice cakes were wedding cakes and they were also designed to replace the wedding cards announcing the wedding. The cake is made from green (unripe) glutinous rice which is stir-fried with fat and sugar, while its core is made of well pounded green beans (peas), a few slices of coconut white lining and a bit of sugar. It is made into a square cake which is wrapped in green, banana leaves and tied with red- colored bamboo strings - the color of threads used to unite the bride and the groom on marriage day. Green rice cakes are produced in many places, but Hanoi surpasses all over localities in fame over this item. In the past, the Coal Street of Hanoi (Hang Than) had a shop called Nguyen Ninh whose green rice cakes were well known throughout the country. Grilled green rice is made from green (unripe) glutinous rice which is sit-fried, then pounded and sifted. After the operation is completed the grilled green rice is preserved in lotus leaves which help to preserve the paddy flagrancy to which is added the flagrancy of lotus. Grilled green rice is produced in many parts of the country. But the best one comes from Vong Village (Tu Liem district, Hanoi City). Everybody follows the same methods, but Vong village has found and applied a formula which is kept secret - thanks to which its products surpass all others in quality and no confusion can be made between its grilled green rice and that of other places. In ancient times, grilled green rice and persimmon fruit were used as presents to the future parents-in-law. The two items match each other perfectly in terms of color, the grilled green rice is of green color like emerald, while the red color of the persimmon trees looks like red diamonds. In terms of taste, the grilled green rice is softly sweet, while the persimmon trees is strongly sweet, and the mixture of the two produces a harmonious taste. The grilled green rice can also be tasty when eaten with banana. It can also produce a tasty sweet soup if cooked with water and a moderate dose of sugar.

RICE ROLLS

Rice rolls (banh cuon) are produced everywhere in Vietnam. But those made in Hanoi have their specific characteristics. In most ancient days, Thanh Tri, a suburban village of Hanoi, was famous for its rice rolls. The rolls of this village, located on the bank of the Red River, were as thin as a sheet of paper, as limpid white as the surface of ceramics, with a flagrancy which was free from any smell of ferment. They are also soft and glutinous. In these ancient days every morning girls and women of Thanh Tri would carry each on their heads a basket of rice rolls to the city. At the request of a customer, the girl would put down the basket, remove the flat basket which served as cover. Inside each big basket was a cattle of fish sauce, a cattle of vinegar, a cowl of chilly, a number of cowls, plates and chopsticks and, below them, numerous layers of rice rolls. A bit of fat and some roasted slice of onions had been duly spread on each layer, of rice rolls. The girl would slowly take out each layer, roll it up, and put several rolls on a plate or bowl and hand it to the customer. These plain rice rolls dipped in fish sauce seasoned with vinegar and chilly were indeed a good breakfast for the common man. The food stalls and shops went further in serving rice rolls along with cork pie and fried soya cakes, depending on the taste of each customer. Fifty years ago, rice rolls experienced a new improvement: minced meat, prawn and mush rooms mixed with fish sauce and pepper were stirred and fried for a few seconds and then wrapped in rice rolls which were then kept warm in a steamer. The rolls were then served along with fish sauce seasoned with lemon, chilly and a few drops of coleopterous. Thus, "Hanoi rice rolls", as they were called, were well appreciated not only because of their taste but also because of their smell. At present, the vendors in Hanoi produced their rice sheets right on the soot and rolled them with the readily prepared core of meat and ingredients. Then plates of rice rolls are served to waiting customers, therefore those who would like to take a big quantity of rice rolls must wait for more than a few minutes. But gourmets are always ready to do so. It is a pity that their are no longer coleopterous nowadays, and one has to make do with chemical coleopterous drops which can in no way equal the genuine ones.

THE NOODLE SOUP

You can have "pho" every where in Vietnam. But there is something special in the "pho" of Hanoi. In his article, "Delicious food in Hanoi, writer Vu Bang wrote about "Pho" as follows: "To a number of person, "Pho" is no longer a dish. They are simply addicted to it, like popular tobacco addicts and cigarette addicts... "From a distance one is already strongly attracted by the smell of "Pho", just like the clouds and smoke of Huong pagoda which good us to quicken our steps and climb the mountains in order to arrive at the pagoda. "Each "Pho" shop has a particular lay-out, a touch of poetry, so to say: attached to a string right in front of the shop are a small bundle of onions with leaves as green as young paddy plants, some pieces of fresh and soft beef, some of them duly cooked or undercooked, some cartilage, some pieces of fat. The standing vendor continuously cuts the rice sheets and meats, and sometimes open the lid of a big cot in order to pour the soup into the noodles bowls. As he open the lid of the soup into the noodles bowls. As he open the lid of the pot, steam spreads out, enveloping the nearly customers in a thin and vague trail of dew similar to what is usually seen in a Chinese painting. The whole picture indeed stimulates your appetite. This is particularly so in winter days with cold northern breeze and one really can not go past a "Pho" shop and easily resist the temptation of entering into it. Yet, to say the truth, "Pho" fans do not easily step into any shop found on the way. To them, enjoying "Pho" is indeed a process of inquiry and experiments, which in the end would make each of them or many of them regular and faithful customers of certain shop. Each person, so to say, has hi s own favourite "Pho" shop. "It is quite a pleasure looking at a "Pho" bowl. A handful of rice sheets cut into slices, some pieces of onion cut thin, some green mint vegetables some thin slices of yellow ginger, some red slices of fresh pimento. A picture cubic painting, isn't it - with bold colors which gladdens your eyes and stimulates your appetite. "Before handing the "Pho" bowl to you, (water your mouth) (make your mouth water), the vendor would ask you : "Customer, what who kind of meat would you prefer - lean meat, cartilage, half meat and half fat". He would give exactly what you want and put the slices of meat on the surface of the bowl before pouring the soup into it. Some thirty years ago, some noodle shops have replaced beef with chicken meat. Some customers like this change, but others indeed the majority, still prefer the traditional "pho" served with beef.

SOFT NOODLE WITH MEAT PIE

In his article, "Hanoi, the city with 36 guilds and streets", a Hanoi well known writer, Thach Lam, wrote about this specialty as follows: "True, this is an ordinary snack. But of all the 6 Southern provinces and the 4 Northern provinces, no where can you have soft noodle with meat pie as delicious as the one served in Hanoi. On catching the smell of soft noodle with meat pie, a rural scholar who came to Hanoi with his bag and umbrella, started making two impromptu verses: In this a valuable good of the 100 year Thang Long City The soft noodle with meat pie? "Such an inspiration is understandable. When you are hungry and stand or sit at a place where the wind brings to you the flagrant smoke of the grilled meat pie, you may feel like becoming a poet. The blue smoke looks like the fog or dew in the slope of mountains, and the drop of fat sputters on the burning coal like a whisper. while the hand fan gives the impression of a moving branch. The soft noodle with meat pie is indeed attractive to the mind and to the belly. "As different from other kinds the soft noodle to be served with meat pie must be thin and arranged in small flat leaves. To be delicious meat pie must be from a piece of fat and lean meat, and must be grilled with a pair of fresh bamo3o tongs. One wonders why the sauce of noodle vendors is so tasty. Perhaps because that is medium quality fish sauce, which is not too salty, mixed up with medium quality vinegar, which is not too sour? If lemon is added. It would become irresistible: one can dip in the soft noodle, the mint vegetables and the meat pie without feeling any salty flavour, something you can't have in your homes of fat and lean meat, and must be grilled with a pair of fresh bamboo tongs. One wonders why the sauce of noodle vendors is so tasty. Perhaps because that is medium quality fish sauce, which is not too salty, mixed up with medium quality vinegar, which is not too sour? If lemon is added. It would become irresistible: one can dip in the soft noodle, the mint vegetables and the meat pie without feeling any salty flavour, something you can't have in your homes. "But what gives the Hanoi soft noodle with meat pie a special flabour are the mint vegetables from Lang village. The same mint vegetables if planted in another area would sooner or later produce a different smell. That is why only soft noodle with meat pie of Hanoi give you all the required taste, flavour and flagrance." Vu Bang, another well known Hanoi writer, wrote in " Delicious food in Hanoi" as follows : "There are two kinds of meat pie: minced meat pie and grilled one. You can eat one of the two. But if you eat Seth, at the same time, after they are dipped in the same sauce cowl, the taste given to you would be mixed - a soft piece of a meat plus a harder one ~ and this would result in rhythmical pace in the mouth and would allow to eat more without loosing the appetite. "Some people wonder why grilled meat pie of the vendors is more delicious than the one served at home. Some housewives suspect that the vendor has added "something" while the meat is preserved. They later find out this is all due to the way the meat pie is grilled. "Indeed, the housewives used to grill meat pie on a stove of too fiery charcoal which causes the fat in the meat to pour out excessively on the burning coal, that producing and additional flame which burns the outer- part of the meat while the middle part is not yet duly grilled. "The vendors do otherwise. Their stove is usually very small ( sometimes it is just an old tin of biscuit) and contains a few pieces of charcoal. When vendor put the tongs of meat pie on the fire she moves the fan just enough to make the coal burn red, and therefore there is just enough heat to grill the meat, without causing the outside part to burned and the fat to be lost. Herein lies the secret about the fragrance of meat pies. "How true this explanation is? "Another thing which all could see is the excellent sauce of the vendors: the fish sauce is not too salty, with an appropriate dosage of vinegar, a bit of pepper and chilly. The sauce contributes greatly to the flavour of soft noodles with meat pie. Hanoi noodles with meat pies are still renown in the country, but with some alterations. Vendors still serve minced and grilled meat pie which are however roasted with iron grilles. It is a pity that the soft noodles served are common ones arranged in small bundles, which are less convenient to the customers. Gourmets should feel that this has somewhat diminished the flavour of this Hanoi specialty.

SOFT NOODLE SOUP

In ancient days, the inhabitants of Hanoi took "Thang" soft noodle soup inside their homes, and only on New year day and anniversary days of their parents. Nowadays, there are some stalls specializing in "Thang" soup though much less in number that the "Pho" shops. The following must be done in order to produce a cowl of "Thang" soft noodle soup. "The soft noodle must be parboiled and then put in a bowl. Other ingredients comprise slices of thin omelet thin slices of lean meat pie, chicken meat torn into small bits, minced skin of chicken meat mixed with mushrooms, some shredded, salted and dried meat and minced mint vegetables, two small pieces of salted eggs. After all there ingredients are put into the cowl, soup must be poured it. The soup must be sweet enough and to this end great care must go into its preparations; cork bones and prawn cuttle fish and sa sung.., in appropriate quantity. The soup must be very hot when poured into the bowl. Then, a bit of prawn paste, a few drops of coleopterous and some bits of beets pickle must be added. "Thus, the "Thang" noodle cowl is ready to be tasted".

VEGEATBLE ROLLS (CUON)

In ancient days, this is a dish prepared and eaten inside each Hanoi family on New Year Day. And even nowadays, there are no ambulatory vendors or shops specialized in it. This dish comprises the following ingredients: stirred and fried prawns with onions, boiled and sliced cork fat and lean meat, beets in pickles, mint vegetables, refuse of fermented rice for preparing liquor stir - fried with honey or sugar and mixed with soybean jam, whole plants of green onions duly boiled, and soft noodles cut into small slices. Before eating, all the above-mentioned ingredients must be picked and wrapped in a rather large piece of lettuce which, in turn, is tied by a coiled plant of fresh onion. The whole lump to be swallowed in a mouthful would give you a sense of soft delight.

THE HUE CUISINE

The Hue cuisine is famous throughout the country, and has indeed enriched the culinary art of the Vietnamese nation. As a former Royal Capital, Hue has two kinds of cuisine: the aristocratic one, and the one for the common people. The present article does not deal with the aristocratic food prepared for the Kings and Lords in the past. It covers the dishes for the common people prepared by the housewives of Hue whose dexterous hands are combined with sophisticated minds which know the kind of food fit for each season of the year, which are keenly aware of the Virtue of food diversity, and have mastered the cooking techniques. Thanks to them, the simple food served to common people in Hue have become delicacies, each item having its own peculiar taste and aroma. The inhabitants of Hue like to eat warm, very warm food which, as they understand, still keep their fresh aroma and taste and stimulate the appetite. Hygiene is also a positive aspect of warm food. Food which must accord with the specific period of the year is another principle of the Hue cuisine, as each of the four seasons has its specific good products and ingredients. During the cool days of spring when trees are budding, Hue has a plentiful supply of vegetables, beans, aubergines, pumpkins, calabash. ..as also birds, crabs, prawn, cattle fish and various species of fish.. In the summer when people find it difficult to digest dry or fat food, vegetables and particularly fermented ones, scuttle fish, oysters, clams (gathered in Mount Hen), prawns, crabs, fish (from the Perfume river) are favourite delicacies. May is the best month for tasting duck meat. Pumpkins, calabash, aubergine, loofah are still highly appreciated in summer, while there is an ample supply of mangoes, pine - apples, longan, jackfruit, strawberries, papaya, mangosteen, custard-apples... for dessert. When the cool autumn comes, one still has vegetables, beans, aubergine, loofah, fish and prawns.. though the supply is not as plentiful as is Spring and Summer. One can enjoy delicious sea fish and autumn fruits such as persimmon, tangerine, grapefruit.. Winter in Hue is full of cold rains and winds.. Then, vegetables fermented with salted fish is an appropriate delicacy. While sea fish becomes less available, one can enjoy several species of river fish and birds. In particular, one has a wide choice of vegetables: beets, cabbage, green peas, salad vegetables, bitter melon, young pumpkin, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, onion.. Hue has few fruit in winter, expect for oranges. In her book, "Hue cuisine", Mrs. Hoang Thi Kim Cuc proposed 15 menus for each season. Her 60 menus comprise 300 dishes (240 salted dishes and 60 sweet dishes) for the 4 seasons in the years. In addition, Hue also serves vegetarian food, pastime delicacies (rice soup, noodles, 'pho' or Vietnamese noodles soup, sweet soup), various traditional pastries, vegetables fermented with salt or salted fish. Thus, a Hue comprehensive menu would comprise over 600 items which include, among others, 125 dishes of vegetarian food, 300 dishes of salted food, over 50 sweet dishes, over 70 kinds of pastries, 30 kinds of pickled fermented vegetables, and scores of different sauces. Quite an impressive list as compared with other regions of the country. Cooking is an art. Many cooking techniques are involved: boiling, frying, roasting, grilling stir-frying, deep-frying, steam-cooking, stewing steaming with a double boiler...Each technique also involves several variants. For example, boiling fish or meat with fish sauce may involve six variants: boiling with a big volume of sauce, boiling with a limited volume of sauce, boiling in order to produce a dry dish, boiling for immediate consumption, boiling for gradual consumption etc.. the same food product can be dealt with in man) ways. For example, prawns can be roasted grille pot - roasted, simmered in fish sauce, stir - fried, turned into pies, salted prawn paste, or sour prawn paste... The Hue cuisine is a combination of simplicity ant sophistication. Simple food products and ingredients but prepared by good methods and dexterous hand can provide delicious dishes. A typical reflection of this are clam rice, mixed vegetable soup, salted vervain.. "Clam rice" (also called Clam rice of Con island Clam rise of Con sampans) is a Hue delicacy, made from local products, and originating from Con Hen, a small island in the Perfume River, south of the Trang Tien bridge. The clams are collected from the river, and they are boiled until the inside meat is dissociated from the shells. Thereafter, the shells are thrown away, while the meat and the boiled solution are filtered through a piece of clean cloth, and then are served in two separate dishes clam meat, clam boiled soup. The two dishes must be consumed with cooled rice along with various aromatic vegetables, minced banana flowers, thick Soya - sauce mixed with chilly, fermented fish, pounded sesame, fish mixed with garlic, and a bit of salt. "Mixed vegetable soup" is a cheap compound dish which is easily cooked. It comprises several kinds of locally available vegetables ('bat bat', bong ngot, mung toi, la lot, a piece of sweet loofah,..), some pieces of bamboo shoots, some prawns, some small slices of meat, a piece of onion, some fish . sauce and prawn paste, a bit of salt and pepper. A bowl of steaming "mixed vegetable soup" would give you an unforgettable experience. "Salted vervain" is the simplest and most delicious dish of Hue. First of all, one must peel several layers of the vervain plants, and then cut the lower white part into small slices. Thereafter, all these vervain slices must be pounded into powder and pot roasted. Cow meat must be sliced and minced. The same operation must be done with cleaned prawns and garlic. Then a solution comprising sugar, prawn paste and fat must be boiled in the cauldron which would, thereafter, stir - fry minced cow meat prawn and garlic, along with some pepper, sugar and prawn paste. When the whole cooking has reached an advanced stage, pounded vervain slices are poured in and stir - fried along with all the other existing ingredients. "Salted vervain" is a most appreciated dish in winter meals. One can list hundreds of similar dishes, simple yet sophisticated of Hue. As a remarkable feature, the Hue cuisine strives to combine and enhance the tastes of food thanks to the use of salt and various kinds of spices such as paper, chilly, onion, garlic, lemon, ginger, vervain, potended sesame, and aromatic vegetables. In particular, great attention is given to various salad vegetables and sauces. Throughout the year, the meals of the Hue inhabitants always comprise a dish of salad vegetables comprising green vegetables, aromatic vegetables, carambola, bitter green banana fruit, thin slices of banana flowers. Salad vegetables used to be consumed with boiled pork, fish paste and/or soup. Preparing sauces has become an art in Hue. Each dish must go together with a specific sauce and the use of wrong sauce may negatively affect the taste of the dish. The most simple sauce is a bowl of fish sauce mixed with chilly, garlic, lemon, pepper and sugar, or a bowl of "Nem" fish sauce seasoned with garlic, chilly and lemon. Favourite sauces of the Hue inhabitants are the Soya sauce (mixed with sugar) used while eating boiled cow meat of "banh khoai" (a crepe with bean sprouts, shrimp and meat inside), sauce made from prawns boiled with fish sauce and mixed with lemon for use in eating boiled vegetables, sauces mixed with the egg yolk for use in eating boiled lobsters.. The Hue cuisine also involves artistic lay - out of the meals. In the minds of the local inhabitants, a Hue meal must be a picture where prevail both decorative and color harmony: the rice plate dish must be put near plates a dish of salad vegetables, fermented (picked) bean sprouts, red and green slices of chilly, star - like slices of carambola, round slices of bitter banana fruit, and a dish of boiled pork the slices of which are disposed in accordance with the pattern of a flower. The tray also contains a dish of white or red flowers which are there solely for decorative purposes. The simplest meal in Hue is perhaps "Clam rice" (see above). Another less simple meal is one comprising rice and three "common" dishes: "bong the" fish boiled with fish sauce and aromatic vegetables, boiled spinach vegetable to be eaten along with a sauce made from prawns boiled with fish sauce and mixed with lemon, (or boiled sweet potato leaves to be eaten along with "nem" fish sauce), a bowl of soup of small prawns and tamarind. A meal prepared by a Hue family in honor of a guest may be a bit elaborate and may comprise 5 to 6 dishes: fermented pork rolls (to be taken along with medicinal liquor or rice liquor), "banh la" (cake wrapped in leaves), "cha tom" (flat cake made of beat, shrimp and eggs), boiled pork (to be taken with sour prawn sauce or "nem" fermented fish, vegetables, slices of carambola, slices of bitter banana fruit), dried cuttle fish mixed -with "thanh tra" fruit, "buoi" or "banh" fish steamed with mushrooms, fat meat, Soya sauce, envelopes of mandarin fruit), and rice cooked with pine . apple leaves. Dessert would involve sweet soup of lotus seeds and longan, or locally available fruit. Outside the framework of their families, the inhabitants of Hue have a wide choice of salted and sweet pastries, various kinds of rice soups, sweet soups, steamed glutinous rice, wrapped salad (cuon nom), dishes of raw fish and vegetables, various species of noodle. Most famous throughout the country are the following delicacies of Hue: - Pastries: "Banh khoai" of Dong Ba (a crepe with bean sprouts, shrimps and meat inside it, to be eaten with greens, starfruit slices and "nuoc leo", a thick brown sauce made with peanuts, sesame seeds and spices); "Banh beo" of Ngu Binh, "banh canh" o Nam Pho, "banh la cha tom" (cake wrapped in leaves and flat cake made of meat, shrimp and eggs), "banh hot thit quay" (cake assorted with roast pork), "banh bot loc boc tom thit" (cake of rice flour with shrimp and meat inside it). "Bun" (Vietnamese noodles): "Bun Tuan" (noodles taken with stir - fried cow meat or with boiled pork and sauce of fermented "nem" fish), "Bun bo Gia Hoi" (noodles taken with cow meat and pork meat). "Che" (Sweet soups): Che dau van (Sweet soup of French beans), Che dau ngu (Sweet soup of beans), Che hot sen boc nhan (Sweet soup of lotus seeds and longan), che bot loc boc thit quay (Sweet soup of rice floor with roast pork)... out of 36 species of delicious sweet soups which are served in restaurant, in parks, and along the Perfume river. Other specialties of Hue cuisine include "nem" or meat roll (previously the fermented meat roll of An cuu was most well known), Maize of Con island, cuttle fish of Thuan An, lobsters of Lang Co, fish and prawn of the Perfume River and Tam Giang Lagoons, and the "De" rice of An cuu. All these species of delicious food have made Hue a famous culinary center of Vietnam.

SOME DISHES

The Vietnamese use chopsticks and a small rice bowl when eating. The dishes are presented in large bowls or plates. Diners take some food into their individual bowls and eat it together with same rice. In restaurants, Vietnamese dishes are always available, but to enjoy the real taste of Vietnamese food, you should try com tam gio cha (Tam rice and pork pie, boiled, fried or grilled); shops are concentrated along Hue Street, such as Viet Hoa and Viet Huong (addresses can be found at the directory). There are over 100 dishes sold in restaurants, hotels, and eating houses in the city; some of more famous ones to be tasted are:

Nem ran: hashed meat mixed with bean sprouts, egg, mushroom, vermicelli, rolled in rice paper, and fried until it becomes light brown and crispy. Nem is dipped in fish sauce, vinegar , chili and eaten with assorted vegetables or salad.

Nem cua be: includes crab meat. It is a very nice dish. Having eaten once, one cannot forget it and want to eat it again. Nem ran is the best in the small shops specialized in selling nem. On menu of every restaurant, you can find this dish.

Snail dishes: In Hanoi there is a specie of snail living in ponds and lakes; it grows as big as a table tennis ball, is copper brown color, has very tasty meat. They are called oc.

Bun oc: The snails are boiled, dipped in vinegar fish sauce, placed in a bowls of vermicelli (rice noodle) and poured over with the snail consomme. Hanoi women like this dish very much. Along the one-kilometer earthen lane leading to Tay Ho Temple, where you pass through the flower gardens of Quang Ba village, there are scores of small kiosks with thatched roofs, right on the bank of West Lake. Women, old and young, stop here to eat the famous dish, after their visit to pagodas and temples. At street corners and markets there are itinerant sellers of bun oc. Eaters, squatting around the vendor, take their bowl of noodles with the steaming hot snails just scooped from the cooking pot heated by a kerosene stove. You will shed tears because of the heat from both temperature and chili.

Oc nhoi: minced snail and pork meat, mixed with onion, garlic, mushroom; rolled in ginger leaves and stuffed in the shell of the snail; then stewed. To eat, one pulls the ginger leaf to take out the stuffing. It is good-flavoured and of a unique taste. Almost all snail specialty shops serve this dish.

Oc hap bia: Snails are stewed in beer. Their meat becomes tender and good flavoured. The most famous shop in Hanoi specializing in snail dishes is run bay the well-known cook Dinh Ba Chau, who artfully prepares the dishes himself. There are up to 11 different snail preparations including: oc xao ca vo (shelled snail stir-fried), oc cuon cha (rolled snail), bun oc kho (dry noodle and snails). This shop lies next to door to Hai Yen Hotel on Giai Phong Road.

Pho: is a popular dish in Hanoi. Banh pho (rice noodles) and beef, chicken, or pork are put in a large bowl with onion, vegetables, condiments and poured with hot consomme. Lemon and chili sauce are added to taste. Restaurants' usually serve pho for breakfast, but it is not as good as in specialized shops. It is pleasant to eat as breakfast or convenient as a fast food when you are in a hurry. On any street, you can find a pho shop, guest sitting on stools on the pavement. Most famous is Pho Thin on Dinh Tien Hoang St., Pho Tu Lun (the dwart) on Hai Ba Trung St., Pho Phu Xuan on Hang Da St., and Pho Ga (chicken pho) on Nam Ngu and Le Van Huu Streets. There are also many good shops on Ta Hien, Hang Giay, and Mai Hac De streets. At night, when coming home late, taking a bowl of hot pho before going to bed is something really marvellous for Hanoians. A bowls of pho costs 2000 - 5000 dong (0.2 - 0.5 US$). You should tell the shopkeeper which kind of pho you want (chicken, beef, underdone or well - cooked, wine-sauced beef) and at what price. If you use chili take a litle first lest it is too hot for you.

Bun cha: pork hashed or cut into small pieces, grilled over charcoals and eaten along with noodles, vinegar fish sauce, garlic, chili and salad. Bun cha seller are found in plenty at corners of any street. From a distance you can see the blue-white smoke of the grill curl up to the roadbed, wafting the good smell of grilled meat. Each portion costs 2000 - 5000 dong. You may add to the noodles some rolls of nem ran. This kind of food is quite appropriate for a light lunch. Well-known bun cha shops are on Hang Manh St., Nguyen Khuyen St. (where crab nem is also available). Price is lower on Mai Hac De St., Trang Tien blind alley, and Han Thuyen St., but quality not as high. Civil servants of the official organs nearby nearby usually eat here.

Ga tan (Stewed chicken): This dish has been popular for about five years now. A grey-footed variety of chicken is stewed with medicinal herbs and eaten with friend bread. Recovering patients and over-worked persons feel in better conditions if they have this dish regularly. Each ration costs only 7000 - 10000 dong (0.7 - 1 US$). On Tong Duy Tan Street and on Cam Chi alley at the end of Hang Bong Street are many Ga tan shops.

Mien luon: vermicelli dipped in boiling water, eel meat boned and fried with onion and assorted kinds of vegetables (mint, mixed greens, and poured with consomme. It is a light and refreshing food. Mien luon is often sold in small sidewalk kiosks. This dish also appears on hotel menus, either with consomme or fried dry. Eels, snails, and fish are considered refreshing food, advisable for people of "hot blood"

Bun thang: This dish is often found in offerings displayed on the ancestral altar on anniversary days. Vermicelli is put in large bowls, ornamented on the surface with thin omelet, lean meat pie, chipped pork, then poured with hot consomme. A little shrimp paste and onion is added according to need. Bun thang is usually sold by street vendors.

Banh cuon: rice flour batter is spread over steam to make a thin wrapper which is rolled with pork, minced shrimp, fried onion and dipped in a mixture fish sauce and lemon and chili.

Cha ca: fillets of large scaleless fish cut into small pieces, seasoned placed in bamboo holders and grilled over charcoal. When brought to the table, the fish is fried again on a stove in the middle of the table. It is eaten with rice noodle dipped into fish sauce added lemon juice and shrimp paste. Visiting Hanoi, you should try this dish, you will certainly enjoy it. It is available in a number of hotels but there is only one restaurant specializing in this dish which has been selling it since the beginning of this century, keeping the recipe secret and occupying the same old wooden house, and bearing the same name Cha ca La Vong. Former French functionaries were so used to the place that they changed the name of the street into Cha Ca street. This name is still maintained until today. Each serving cost 3 - 4 US$. The flavour of Cha Ca will be greatly enhanced if you add one or two drop essence of coleopteron. (a drop costs 1 - 2 US$). Restaurans Hoang Long at the south end of Quang Trung St., looking on Thuyen Quang lake and Phu Gia also serve this delicacy.

Banh mi bit tet xiu mai: a combination of European and Asian foods. A piece of beefsteak, some hamburger mixed with onion and mushroom, two eggs and some greens are served sizzling hot on and iron tray. The meal is accompanied by a loaf of fresh bread fried potato and salad. The best places to eat steaks are on Hoa Ma St. No.9 and 70. The restaurants are usually quite busy from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., attesting to its popularity. Each meal costs 8000 dong (0.8 US$)

Ran, ba ba (snake and tortoise): A number of delicacy shops keep these animals in iron wire cages. The cook takes one of them, cleans it, cuts its artery and let its blood drop into wineglasses. He then skins it, opens its body and prepares the dish before the eyes of the guests. Snake and tortoise meat is eaten along with wine mixed with the snake or tortoise blood. It is believed that it constitutes a tonic for bones and sinews, relieves bodily pains and strengthens virility. Each snake of over 1m long costs about 50 US$. Each tortoise of 20 cm in diameter costs about 20 US$. Well-known snake and tortoise restaurant are clustered on Hang Giay, Ta Hien and May May streets, in narrow upper floors. Le Mat village in Gia Lam district specialize in catching and raising snakes to be stuped in wine. Look for these jars of liquor and snakes known as snake wine in almost any bar or restaurant. In the village many special restaurants serve snake dishes. The menus vary with prices running between 30.000 and 100.000 dong, traditional rice alcohol is free. To prove that they are gourmands, many people bring their friends here to entertain them.

Thit cho (dog meat): Europeans usually do not eat dog meat, but in Vietnam there is a specie of dog close to a wild dog that is reared for its meat. Pet dogs are not eaten. At least seven different dishes of dog meat are served in restaurants specializing in this delicacy. Dog meat is believed to give warmth, therefore eaters like to sit on mat, in large and well - aired thatch houses. Getting together with friends to eat dog meat, sip rice alcohol, and tell stories until everyone becomes a little drunk is really and inexpressible pleasure. Along the Nhat Tan dike, with the Red River on one side and West Lake on the other, there are about twenty dog meat shops in bamboo huts. At the end of each lunar month, diners come in such great numbers that motorcycles and cars cover the surface of the dike. Many foreigners are invited by their close Vietnamese friends to taste this particular Vietnamese dish.

Gio cha: pork pie (boiled or fried or grilled): Pounded meat, impregnated with fragrant ingredients, wrapped in banana leaves and stewed is called gio. If grilled ground a wood cylinder, it is called cha. These two preparations may be viewed as cold food, to be eaten with glutinous or ordinary rice, bread, or banh day (pounded cooked glutious rice). They are convenient for a picnic and can be kept for three or four days in a cool and well-aired place. They are available in all markets.

Various kinds of lau: a turban shaped pan containing consomme; in the middle of the pan is a charcoal stove (now alcohol fuel or electricity is used). The consomme is boiling throughout the meal. The lau pan is placed in the middle of the table, around it are a variety of food which can include noodle, vermicelli, pig heart, liver and kidneys, goat meat, eel, onion, vegetables. Eaters serve themselves; taking the food into a large spoon and dipping ti into one's bowl . Depending on the ingredients used, it is called lau de (goat meat), lau luon (eel meat) or with many different kinds of meat, it is called lau thap cam (assorted meat). This dish always figures on the menu of deluxe restaurants and bear the name mixed hot pot-steamed boat.

Com binh dan (popular meals): small kiosks serving common dishes in a familiar meal of Vietnamese. Guests order the dishes they want or give the price of the meal (2000 - 10.000 dong). Daily dishes of Hanoian meal are found here. Some of them are not available in more expensive restaurants:

picked vegetables (salted cabbage, like the Korean Kim Chi).

tofu (soya bean curd)

assorted vegetables (cut, mixed with vinegar, chili, garlic).

canh cua (crab soup: field crap pounded and cooked with vegetables).

nhong (silk worm larvae, high in protein)

thit kho tau (slices of lean and fat meat well cooked with sugar coating)

ca ran (fried fish) ca phao (salted eggplant, eaten with vegetables soup)

Areas with good restaurants: Cam Chi alley (end of Hang Bong street); middle portion of Mai Hac De Street; Hang Hanh Street; Bao Khanh Lane; Ta Hien Street, Hang Giay Street and Nguyen Binh Khiem Street.

At 44 Le Hong Phong Street, there is an original popular meals shop serving rice and dishes cooked in small earthen pot, very interesting for Vietnamese overseas and cultural researchers.

Vietnamese Cousine

Vietnam House Restaurant: 93-95 Dong Khoi St.Distric 1, Tel: 291623.

Cung Dinh Rex: 146-148 Pasteur St. District 1, Tel: 293115/Ext 7765, Fax: 84-8-291469.

Banh xeo: A Phu at 101 Pasteur St, District 1. Hue: 7/1 Ky Dong St, District 3, Tel: 445934.

Cha Gio: Thu Thuy Store, 128 Nguyen Thien Thuat St, District 3. Ha Noi Fist Pie: 27 E Nguyen Huu Canh St, District 1, Tel: 442582.

Hu Tieu: Hong Phat, 389 Vo Van Tan St, District 3, Tel: 390187. Com Chay Tin Nghia at 9 Tran Hung Dao Blvd, in District1.

Com Tam Thuan Kieu 6, 54 Thuan Kieu St, Dist 11 Thanh Nien, 11 Nguyen Van Chiem St, Dist 1. Tel: 225909 180

Nguyen Van Thu St, Dist 1, Tel: 251673.

Along Nguyen Trung Truc and Pham Ngu Lao St, Dist 1.

European and asian cuisine

Tennis Garden at 86 Bis Le Thanh Ton St, District 1, Tel: 292186/Ext 7768.

Restaurant ship at the foot at Nguyen Hue Blvd. Tel: 230393

Brodard at 131 Dong Khoi St, District 1, Tel: 225873.

Thanh The at 3-5 Nguyen Trung Truc St, in District 1, Tel: 291214.

Girval at 169 Dong Khoi St, in District 1, Tel: 292747

Lemon Grass, 63 Dong Khoi St, District 1, Madame Dai's Nguyen du St, Dist1. Tel: 231438.

Franch cuisine La Cigale, 158 Nguyen Dinh Chinh St, Tel: 443930.

Le Mekong, 32 Vo Van Tan St, Dist1, Tel: 251277.

Italian cuisine: Chez Guido in the Continental Hotel, Tel: 294456

Ciao, 72 Nguyen Hue Blvd, Dist 1, Tel: 251277.

China cuisine A Dong at 22 Hai Thuong Lan Ong St, in District 5, Tel: 556309,557239.

Arc - En- Ciel at 52-56 Tan Da St, in District 5, Tel: 552869.

Soai King Lam at 496 Tran Hung Dao Blvd, in District 5, Tel:551824.

Int'l Tourist Club: 76 Le Lai St, District 1, Tel: 295318.

Oriental Court, Saigon Floating Hotel Dist 1, Tel: 290783.

Japanese cuisine Nihon Bashi in the Rex H├Ąte in District 1, Tel: 292186.

Indian cuisine Delhi at 68 Nguyen Hue Blvd, in District 1, Tel: 295552.

Korean cuisine: Korea food at 213 Dong Khoi St, in District 1, Tel: 297115,

Seoul at 37 Ngo Duc Ke St, in District 1, Tel: 294297.

Traditional performance Binh Quoi village 1147 Xo Viet Nge Tinh St, Binh Chanh Dist, Tel: 991833 or 298914.