Tag Archives: hanoi

Heritage House, Hanoi

One of the smaller “museums” – if you can call it one – is the one along Ma May (almost opposite the famous “New Day” restaurant – review coming up) called the Heritage House.

Heritage House
Looking in…

It’s got an entrance fee 10 – 30,000VND (can’t quite recall), but that works out to about S$1.80 at most, which is really a steal.

once you step in...
Front of house

Once you wander past the “main lobby”, chances are you might spot this old man. He offered to draw me, but I didn’t want to  waste his ink. :p

He'll draw you, for a fee I bet!
Artist and his work

If you like taking photos, this is a nice place to shoot. It’s been designed to maximise airflow and lets in plenty of natural light. Combined with dust and time, the house and its contents have aged gracefully.

green!
Floating green plants. Tell me if you know what they’re called!
Assam?
Left hanging
bird in a cage
Birdcage with bird. Not for sale – i checked.

There’s more stuff upstairs, so don’t forget to make your way up the narrow stairs…

Chinese chessboard
Chess game abandoned?

Unfortunately, it seems as if the proprietors are eager (maybe too eager) to squeeze their VND from every nook and cranny  available. What happens is that nearly everything on display is on sale. From small knick knacks and snacks, to paintings and opium pipes!

Buddhas of various colours and sizes
Bring Buddha home
Big pipes
Opium not included

I feel the folks in Penang who also have their own UNESCO World Heritage site, have a better idea of how to earn money from curious tourists, but are conscious in preventing things from getting over-commercialised. i.e. sustainable heritage tourism. Here’s hoping the Vietnamese people latch on to these ideas before all that’s left are crunky souvenirs in an oversized giftshop. Lots more photos in my Hanoi Flickr album.

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Dac Kim: Hanoi’s best Bun Cha?

There are spring rolls and there’s pho… but you really haven’t been to Hanoi / Vietnam if you haven’t had Bun Cha.

Hanoi's best Bun Cha?
Nha Hang Dac Kim Bun Cha

This was the first place we tried for Bun Cha, and frustratingly, everyone else I’ve asked subsequently points me to this same joint. It’s not that the food wasn’t good (it was GREAT!), but it did feel as if we were being charged “tourist” prices at 100,000VND per person, which is about 3 times the price at less famous roadside joints. To be fair, we did try alternatives and they were all lesser incarnations, so maybe Dac Kim knows they’ve got the market cornered. To be more specific, the lesser incarnations are likely to only come with the meat patties in broth (which still tends to be dry) and without the spring rolls.

Meat heaven
Bun Chaaaaaaarge!!!

There’s no need to stress about what to order. Just tell them how many people are eating and they haul out the corresponding motherload of meat. The meats and sauces are just FAB. BEW. LUSS. One of the staff came over to point at what goes with what, but frankly every combo – no matter how strange it may seem to a Hanoian – tastes amazing. The crispy Nem Cua Be (Crab Springrolls) go perfectly with the bowl of sauce that you flavour accordingly (depending on your heat and bad breath tolerance) with chili padi and garlic. You can then dunk chopstickfuls (did I just invent a new word?) of white noodles into that bowl of porky paradise. The broth is flavourful without being overpowering, containing slices of meat that live in harmony with mini patties of ground meat wrapped in a little green leaf. They didn’t live very long.

Lots & lots of greens.
Eat your veggies! Or maybe not…

Hygiene tip: There’s a wise saying that if you want to eat good street food, try not to see how it’s prepared. Unfortunately, I was curious enough to see what happened to the mountain of assorted greens that comes with each Bun Cha portion. Most people are unlikely to get even half-way through. Turns out that the leftovers go back into the central pile of vegetables to be dished out to the next customer. I’m already not a fan of coriander, so this moment of “enlightenment” made sure I never had raw vegetables again in Hanoi – especially when they come in generous piles.

dong dong qiang
Your friendly neighbourhood music shop

Next door is a interesting distraction while you’re chomping down with god knows how many musical instruments stuffed into a store. Meat + Music = Yumm… And don’t forget the beer (or “bia” as the Vietnamese say…)

Address:
Dac Kim Bun Cha
1 Hang Manh
Hanoi, Vietnam

 

 

Getting fried at Quan Goc Da

We were looking for Nguyen Sinh along Ly Quoc Su after a recommendation by smittenbyfood when we came across  this place.

Fry
The Hanoi version of Old Chang Kee?

Didn’t think much of it the first time we passed it in the day time, but when the crowd picked up in the evening, it looked like something we had to try.

People enjoying their fried stuff
You don’t get this sort of crowd at an Old Chang Kee!

Think there might be some minimum order thing going on as they didn’t seem too pleased when the Indonesian (I think) couple ahead of me ordered a few items. Being the greedy Singaporean, I didn’t face any problem. Hur hur. I think the staff may be more forgiving if you’re ordering only a few pieces for take-away, as we did on our second visit.

Nom nom nom
From left, in descending order of delish! Didn’t touch the veggies (will explain in my post on Bun Cha)

What to eat: Ordering is a challenge as I had no idea what each item was, but pointing works and the boss lady knows her English well enough to tell you how much it all costs.  The skinny long thing (1st item on the left on the plate) is some fried seafood item that’s my personal favourite. The fried spring roll (middle on the plate) is pretty good too – suspect this is the Nem Cua Be (or Crab Springroll). The thing that looks like a curry puff has mushrooms in it. Not bad either! Tell me if you know their real names!

Quan Goc Da in action
Boss lady (centre) and her crew. There’s actually a board in the shop (behind the red clock) that has English translations of the food items.

Address:
Quan Goc Da

52 Ly Quoc Su
Hoan Kiem District 
Hanoi

Hanoi 2013: Getting an internet connection on your mobile device

Another trip and I haven’t finished posting about the last one. What’s new. :p

Made my maiden visit to Vietnam, and here are a couple of tips on hooking up to the internet while in Hanoi.

When you arrive at Noi Bai airport, exit customs and turn right.

Arrival waiting area
What you see when you exit customs

You might come across an information counter along the way and if you ask, they’ll point you in the same direction, telling you to look for the “Post Office”.

Nobody at the post office
Nobody’s home at the “Post Office” at the moment

Nobody was around when I got to the Post Office, so I got directed to the minimart next door.

They have everything
They sell everything and the kitchen sink

The tricky thing is they sell full-sized SIM cards here, and if you’re using something that requires a microSIM that most of us take for granted these days (like an iPhone or Samsung S3), it’s going to be a gamble. The first SIM card that they massacred cut didn’t work when slot into my S3 – No SIM detected. They then went on to snip another one which worked. Unfortunately, I tried removing the SIM card a few days later (long story… ) and it didn’t work after I put it back. From the looks of it, the ladies at the airport cut too close to the shiny gold portion on the SIM card. (sorry, no photo!) I looked around for a shop that could slice up a new microSIM for me, but couldn’t find one in time before we headed to Halong Bay, where I assumed reception would be rubbish anyway.

When I got back, I recalled seeing a shop that wouldn’t look out of place in Sim Lim along Hang Bac street. Turns out I was right! Think the shop’s called “Cua Hang

Best place to get your microSIM!
53 Hang Bac… Bingo!

The great thing is that the dude in the shop speaks decent English and could tell me exactly how much each minute and kb of data would cost, though I’ve completely forgotten now.

Both times (at the airport and at Hang Bac), I was offered a prepaid mobifone SIM card which apparently gives better value than competitors Vina and Viettel (can’t even find their websites, actually!). The standard starter pack costs 150,000VND. On average, I ran out of 100,000VND (approx S$6) value every day with fairly heavy usage. Even with double the load (200,000 VND or S$12), it’s still cheaper than the S$20/day I would have had to pay SingTel for their Bridge Dataroam, but granted the SingTel deal is for unlimited data. At the moment, SingTel charges more for data in Vietnam than places like Thailand and Malaysia which cost S$15/day.

Or if you really don’t want to bother, wifi seems widely available in most cafes and restaurants though I think some are heavily overloaded (e.g. Highlands Cafe along Nhà Thờ) and the connection really crawls. Free wifi in hotels is more widely available than many other places I’ve visited!