During our two days in Hanoi, we ate in small restaurants or from take-out stands.
For our first lunch, we looked for something familiar — beef pho. Most pho places in the San Francisco Bay Area serve beef pho, but we had trouble finding beef pho in Hanoi. We discovered that most pho places in Hanoi’s Old Quarter serve chicken pho, called pho ga. We finally gave up and ate at the chicken pho place shown above. A table and chairs are on the sidewalk, but we ate inside.
For dinner we bought a take-away chicken plate from this place around the corner from our hotel. The glass case is on the sidewalk at the entrance to the restaurant.
We assembled these take-away items and ate dinner on our balcony. We had boiled chicken with rice and vegetables, two fried rolls, some vegetables, and roast pork. The roast pork was wrapped in the leaf.
As we left our hotel the next morning, we saw this food stand across the street. They had lots of food, with customers driving up to the stand. We asked if it would still be there if we came back later in the morning, and they said it might not last.
The food looked good, so we bought some. They said that the food was special because this was the 15th day of the new year. By late afternoon, the stand was gone, and the sidewalk was empty. Apparently, people shop early in the day for lunch and dinner.
That morning we saw boiled chickens for sale. The chicken being put on the table is still steaming.
Here’s our second dinner. As it turned out, we bought everything within 50 yards of our hotel. Our chicken place from the previous day wouldn’t sell us a place of rice without chicken. We had to buy the rice from a restaurant with English menus, the only place with English menus we patronized in Hanoi. We pointed or tried to use English. This meal is very low on vegetables, just like Chinese banquet food.
The two chicken places we ate at were probably on a street food circuit, judging from the folks who walked in and asked some off-the-wall food questions in English to young Asians who patiently answered every question.
Our food cost much less than a walking food tour, we ate what looked good, and we stayed healthy. We identified shrimp, chicken, and vegetable. After that, we didn’t quite know what we were eating, but that’s part of the adventure of street food.