Along the road to our hotel, we didn’t see that many restaurants to be able to make a selection for our dinner venue , or maybe I should rephrase it- there was a Thai restaurant – pass ( alamak, in Vietnam eat Thai food ah ?) , one with a bright ‘seafood’ sign- pass, as we might be slaughtered, one with a chandelier and a balcony- pass, a bit too up market lah . And then we found what we were looking for just around the corner – Quan An Ngon – that met our criteria – it was filled with people- locals and foreign ( deducing that as the locals eat there too, the prices should be ok ) and serving Vietnamese food. There were two types of seating arrangement, indoors or outdoors, as it was freezing- the seats indoors were all taken out so we had to settle out of doors and braved the cold. In the picture below you can see part of the crowd as well as the individual stalls. The concept is like a food court back home but difference being all the stalls belonged to the same restaurant.
The menus were bilingual ( Vietnamese and English ) but it was still a bit confusing, life would have been easier if there were pretty pictures in the menu. We solved the ordering of food in two ways, one was to look at what the other tables were ordering- and then pointing this out to our assigned waiter/ waitresses. This also involved walking around the restaurant with the waiter in tow until we saw something we like. The second method was to survey the stalls and see what they offer, the drag the waiter to the targeted stall and then order what we want. Out of the trio, I was the only person who has been toVietnam, thus I took up the responsibility of ordering.
For drinks we ordered some beers – they do not have the 333 here, so we chose another local beer – Bia Ha Noi at VND22,000 per bottle , which was ~ RM3.50
Oh, I have only just realised that I missed out 2 important pictures, what was I thinking..Grrrr….must be Bia Ha Noi ! I guess you will have to take my word for it.. <<<< 15th March : this is no longer correct, i did found a pix taken on my phone …>>>>we ordered the famous Vietnamese dish – the shrimp paste on sugar cane thingy (VND 88,000 for two) . Back in KL, the usual way we would eat this is – everyone get their individual sugar cane goodie and we eat that as an appetizer or with rice. Turned out that there is a different way of eating this- the shrimp paste is cut up into many pieces and one would collect the thin transparent rice paper, put slices of green star fruit, core of the banana tree, basil and a slice of the cut shirmp paste , roll ‘em up and then a fast dip into chili sauce and voila..yummy Vietnamese spring rolls…these were very good and one can’t help but feel good eating it because with all the vegetables- it appeared to be very healthy. Guilt free food! Pix below – waitress cutting up the shirmp paste thingy.
We ordered another version of spring roll, this version came with a thin yellowish pancake filled with savoury fried bean sprouts and fatty pork. Upon further ‘research’ got to know that these are called Bánh xèo ( VND 42000) and is made of rice flour, turmeric powder ( hence the colour). In the picture below, the waitress is in the process of cutting up the pancake . The white half moon thingy is the rice paper.
How to eat this ? first of all, get a piece of rice paper, then some basil and then the pancake with the bean sprout and fatty pork, roll them up and then a quick dip and another delicious spring rolls. These were really very good. must be that piece of fatty pork doing the job…..
Next up, we had the lotus root salad ( goi ngo sen) VND 78,000– which taste very much like the thai mango salad i.e. sour, sweet and a tinge of spiciness. The lotus root came with dried prawns, crushed roasted peanut , fried shallots, carrots etc . We loved this too.
I thought that the guys might like to try some eel , so i ordered the eel vermicelli ( VND 75,000) – the eel were deep fried until crunchy, there were plenty of bean sprouts and yim sai , the fried tung hoon ( vermicelli ) taste a bit like a milder ( not so oily and less spicy) version of char koay teow, the two guys raved about this and said that this was the best dish of the night.
The guys had a walkabout and later the waiter came back their order of fried buns. – the buns had the texture and taste similar to that of plain donuts , these buns were filled with minced meat. This was ok la.
Overall, a truly enjoyable meal- and the best thing was we only paid VND 403,000- which is ~ RM60 for this wonderful meal.
18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam