Monday, June 30, 2008


no Travel will be complete without partaking of the local food. certainly not when you travel with a buddy with an appetite that matches (surpasses?) yours. From Hanoi to Halong all the way to Sapa, the foodscape is as wonderful to explore as the landscape and seascape. and we're talking more than just the popular pho.

• In Hanoi, our best picks would be: Little hanoi (for the great food and even more delectable desserts); and the century-old recipe of fried fish served with noodles and herbs at Cha Ca La Vong. This last one is filled with customers eager to try the restaurant's one and only item in the menu - a bold move on the owner's part that indicates how good the dish is.

• In Sapa, Gecko Restaurant serves the most melt-in-your-mouth spring rolls, exquisitely prepared main course and desserts that's worth the US$10 you pay for the set menu. Also recommended: the sapa mushrooms at Ban Mai near the lake; the freshly-made cake & ice cream desserts at a new french place tucked at the back of the public market (sorry, forgot to take note of the name).

• Most exotic alternative to pho: the duck egg and spinach soup we had for a late, late lunch at Ta Van, Sapa Valley. It tastes different but yummy and filling all the same.

• The coffee in most of Hanoi establishments we tried was so consistently good, I always drank mine black. The taste is clean and flavorful with little bitter aftertaste, the aroma certainly enticing -- a perfect foil for sugary desserts. 

Image 1 - Melt-in-your-mouth spring rolls at Gecko in Sapa; the wrapper is paper thin, the filling cooked to perfection. The vinegar sauce is very mild, not acidic and actually refreshing to the palate. Quickly became the benchmark for all other spring rolls we ordered afterwards.

Image 2 - Exotic-tasting duck egg soup at Ta Van in Sapa Valley. At first, tasted a lot like isaw (pig intestines) but filling and delicious just the same

Image 3 - Carrot cake and vanilla ice cream at the French cafe at the back of Sapa public market.  Both the cake and ice cream are home-made and fresh. 

Image 4 - Apple pie and vanilla ice cream at little hanoi in hanoi

Just thinking back to all that good food makes my mind wander and my taste buds hanker for Vietyum, er, Vietnamese food.


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