Hanoi, July 6, 2009
Hang Be Market; clockwise-crabs tied up with rope, vegetables, unrefrigerated meat, grubs (still moving).
It only took me 3 days, but I finally found the food market. After yesterday’s disappointment, I asked at the hotel’s front desk where the food market was. It’s called “Hang Be” and it’s near the top end of Hoen Kiem Lake. We walk over there from the hotel in the morning, and finally, it’s not raining! The market is at the corner of Cau Go and Hang Be streets and forms an “L” about 2 blocks long on each side. It is outside, covered with tarps and awnings. All kinds of food are sold here; meats, vegetables, seafood, flowers, cooked and prepared food. I am impressed with how clean it is. I’ve seen a lot of “wet” markets and this one is surprisingly tidy. It does not smell (which is a testament to how fresh everything is), there’s no slop on the ground, and very few flies even though there is plenty of meat sitting out unrefrigerated. Yet, this is clearly a local’s market, not one set up for tourists. In fact, as far as I can tell, we are the only non-locals there.
We wander through, checking out everything and stop at a woman near the center of the market making Banh Cuon. These are glutenous rice crepes, steamed on what looks like a piece of cheesecloth stretched over a pot of water. The woman spreads out the mixture, then lifts lets it rest for about 10 seconds and then lifts it up with a pair of chopsticks. The crepe is then filled with a mixture of pork and mushrooms. We decide to sit on the tin blue stools and partake, right there in the market. We get one order, which is a plate of about 6 crepes served with a dipping sauce. They are wonderful.
Later, we stop by a woman we nicknamed the “fry lady”. We’ve been seeing her every day and finally we decide to stop. We should have sat down to eat, but I think because we were too tentative she gives us our stuff to go. We get 4 assorted savory fried things for 16,000 VND (less than $1). A tasty snack!
For a mid-afternoon snack, we go to one of the places for which I have a recommendation for Bun Bo. This place is right around the corner from the hotel, and even at 3PM has a fair amount of people in it, slurping down noodles. These were really tasty; dry rice noodles with beef, lettuce, green onions, and topped with fried shallots and peanuts. There’s a bit of sauce in the bottom of the bowl too, so it’s not completely dry. Bun Bo Nam Bo, 67 Hang Dieu, Hanoi
For a late dinner, we end up at the same Pho place we’d gone to for our first dinner, “Pho 10″ at 10 Ly Quoc Su. It is just as good this time around. I have the pho tai bap again and David has”beef with instan noodle”. Yes, no “t” on “instant” and yes, the noodle looks surprisingly like instant ramen, but stir-fried instead of soupy. Both were good, but the pho here is the clear winner. I also had a “Bia Saigon” and while I am certainly no beer connoisseur, this was absolutely one of the worst beers I’ve ever had. My first thought was, “beer soda!” It seemed sweet to me and really, that’s not a good thing for beer, is it?
To see more on this day (including more food and market photos) go to http://www.wired2theworld.com/vietnam2009Day3.html