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Archive for June, 2015

Hoi An – one of the few places that I have had the chance already to visit and really want to come back again and again. The ancient town has intrigued me in so many ways and perhaps the strongest attraction is its unique food, especially Chè or sweet dessert soup.

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Whenever I am in Hoi An, I always have the urge to jump out from my hotel room for a walk around every alley of the town and eat something, whether it is sunny or rainy, in the morning or at night. Eating out in the peaceful and quiet town of Hoian is absolutely different from in other big cities as we do not need to worry about the annoying car noises or polluted smog, the poetic atmosphere of the ancient town contributes to the delicous taste of simple dishes. Indochina tours Vietnam

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From my own experiene, Chè must be put at the top of Hoian’s street foods list. You can easily find an old woman street vendor sitting modestly on a street corner and selling Chè while travellers sitting around her on little plastic chairs enjoying tasty bowl of sweet soup. There are various kinds of Chè for you to choose, from taro sweet soup, sweet green bean soup, sweet corn soup, etc.

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My favorite types are lotus seed sweet soup and sweet black sesame soup. Lotus seed sweet soup has long been dubbed as a royal dish, you will find only around 10 lotus seeds in a little bowl of soup, still the unique delicious refreshing taste of this soup is absolutely worth a try. Black sesame sweet soup which locals often call Chè mè đen is made has various ingredients, including black sesame, coconut, rice flour, sugar. I like this one as it is not only delicious but also nutritious and good for our health as the bowl is not big so I often enjoy at least two bowls of Chè for once.

Some highly recommended addresses to enjoy the truly Chè in Hoi An:

  • Soup of Lotus Seed – Add: Hoang Van Thu Street
  • Mrs Muoi’s small sweet soup restaurant – Add: 4 Hoang Dieu Street
  • Miss Lien’s small sweet soup restaurant – Add: 3 Nguyen Hue Street.

Price: My last visit Hoi An was in May 2015 and a bowl of sweet soup there costed only a quarter dollar. Too cheap for such a delicious dish!

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Writing this post in summer June when Hanoi’s temperature is super hot at average 35 – 40 Celsius Degree, yes we want something for lunch which is fresh, and not hot! Being a typical traditional dish of Hanoi, nothing would be better for summer lunch than “Bun Cha”. It is believed to originate from Hanoi and is a popular dish in the Northern region of Vietnam. Described as fresh, tasty, delicious, “Bun Cha” is a must-not-miss street food of Hanoi.

The name

Bun Cha, combining of “Bun” – white rice noodle (rice vermicelli) and “Cha” – grilled fatty pork. “Bun” is made of rice flour which is turned into small, circular and white threads making different shapes. For typical Bun Cha, we often use stirred vermicelli. Also, since the pork is grilled, this dish is also commonly called ‘BBQ Pork Noodles’ by foreigners.

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The ingredients

Bun Cha is served with a dish of stirred rice vermicelli, a dish full of vegetables and a bowl of fish sauce combined with vinegar, sugar, hot chilly, garlic and pepper. The sauce is made with a secret recipe containing all the essential tastes, sour, hot, salty and sweet. Grilles of well cooked pork would be opened and the contents dropped into the bowl of fish sauce. There are two kinds of Cha (grilled pork) used, depending upon the cut of the meat – Cha Mieng (piece of grilled pork) when pork is cut into small pieces or Cha Bam (minced grilled pork) if the pork is minced prior to being shaped into small meatballs.

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Side fresh vegetables to eat with could be named like perilla leaves, Asian basil leaves, Vietnamese mint leaves, cilantro leaves, sawtooth coriander leaves, shiso leaves..

They also serve fried crab spring rolls on order – which is also a delicious side dish going along well with the yummy sauce.

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The restaurant

The best Bun Cha restaurant in Hanoi is too famous to be named – Bun Cha Dac Kim. But keep your eyes open and be careful as foreigners have reported about a fake one with expensive price & poor service. I only recommend the one at No. 67 Duong Thanh street – in the heart of the Old Quarter and if you are looking on the map now, look for Hang Da Galleria Shopping center as the Duong Thanh street is just near-by. (Note: they have another branch at No. 1 Hang Manh – the big 5-floor restaurant with red & yellow signboard of DAC KIM however right next to this restaurant, there is a fake one with blue signboard so there is high chance you can go to the wrong place as they are both at No.1).

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Bun Cha Dac Kim at No. 67 Duong Thanh Street

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Bun Cha Dac Kim at No. 1 Hang Manh Street

It is a local place, often found crowded with both local people and foreigners. Don’t come for ambiance, because it’s plastic chairs and even a little dingy. You are coming here for the food.

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The price

June 2015 updated, price tag for a bowl of Bun Cha Dac Kim is 65,000 VND (~3 USD) or 90,000 VND (~4.5 USD ) if serving together with crab spring rolls. Actually, a bowl of Bun Cha here is in huge size with plenty of meat which I myself never can finish eating alone. Thus, if you are a group of 2 and above, order only 1 portion first for two people to share plus spring rolls (must-try) and some drinks. Then if you want more (I bet you would), you can order later.

Always ask for a menu to check updated price and what portions/ set they serve.

The time

The Dac Kim restaurant is open from 10 am to 8.30 pm. Served in-door or take away.

(to be continued: Diary of a Hanoian food-lover – Part 3: Cha Ca)

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Born, grew up and been living in Hanoi for more than 25 years, I have a big luck to be able to taste plenty of yummy Vietnamese dishes in Hanoi – among the greatest street food cites all over Vietnam, or the world. Been sneaking in uncountable hidden places serving the same dish just to compare and determine the best taste-ever restaurant of that particular dish, I find a great pleasure to write down here to share with my local/ overseas friends or new visitors to Vietnam my eating experience and the best yummy street food my hometown has to offer. Holiday indochina vietnam

The first dish to be discussed today, my no.1 favorite dish – Bun Bo Nam Bo.

The name

Bun Bo Nam Bo, with “Bun” – noodle, “Bo” – beef, “Nam Bo” – the South, somehow well explained of its meaning. It’s a dish serving with noodle and beef that originates from the South of Vietnam.

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But we are talking about the food of Hanoi in the North?! Correctly, it does taste extremely good even in Hanoi. What does it have to offer?

The ingredients

In a mixing bowl, you will find noodle/ dried rice vermicelli serving with stirred-fire beef, scattered with fried onion, minced garlic, minced lemongrass, salt, pepper, fish sauce, crushed peanuts, slide thin papaya, vinegar, sugar…

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All those ingredients aim to maintain the balance of the dish, the fried beef versus the fresh herbs, the sweet broth versus lemongrass and papaya… I am hungry already just describing it! Ok let’s go to the place.

The restaurant

The best one serving “Bun Bo Nam Bo” in Hanoi should be at No.67 Hang Dieu Street in the Old Quarter (of course in my opinion). Going there, you will see a busy place with long communal metal tables filled up with both locals and foreigners. Definitely, the restaurant is too well known with Hanoian and as the result of “word-of-mouth”, many travelers have share their experience and reviews online through forums and blogs, make this place a must-not-miss street food restaurant in Hanoi. Keep in mind it’s a local frequent place, so expect a not-so-fancy atmosphere, but a bit busy, crowded but always smelling yum of stirred beef with garlic.

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The price

June 2015 updated, a bowl of Bun Bo Nam Bo at No. 67 Hang Dieu would cost you VND 60,000 (approximately USD 3).

The time

You can try Bun Bo at any time of the day as the restaurant opens from 7 am till 10.30 pm. You can choose to eat in-door or order take-away.

(to be continued: Diary of a Hanoian food-lover – Part 2: Bun Cha)

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If you are planning to visit Vietnam and you are also looking for a beautiful beach to get a honey skin, you will want to consider about putting Nha Trang into your plan.

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An overview to Nha Trang from the sea.

Nha Trang offers a long coastline which you can swim almost everywhere along this line and in most of time in the year. Take a flight from Hanoi or a sleeping bus from Ho Chi Minh and you can easy to enjoy the crystal beach in Nha Trang.

In Nha Trang, besides swimming and enjoy the beautiful beach, there are also a few other things that you might want to do and it’s not difficult to do all of these by yourself. Let take bike and ride around this lovely city!

If you are a photographer or you are in love in capturing all the great moment, I believe you will love Hòn Chồng (Husband Islet). With stones piling, clear water and a huge blue sky, it will inspire you to create many great photos and art work. Tours in Vietnam

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Go through the gate, you will see this ancient house. It’s a new building in old style but it doesn’t match with the view in there. However, you will have a place to hide the sun and enjoy some traditional music.

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Hon Chong has a wonderful scenic and easy to make you pick up your camera and shoot!

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On the way to climb there…

Leave Hon Chong and not too far from there, we continue to visit Ponagar Temples. For people who love to see some culture and historical, Ponagar Temples can show you about Cham’s culture and architect that you could see it similar to My Son Temple and Tower.

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The main temple in this complex. Right next to this site, you can find the mud bath area.

Another place to see is the Institute of Oceanography located in the South of the city, not gorgeous like the Aquarium in Vinpearl but it will show you some interesting information about ocean creatures and see some huge specimens. You can hire a guide in there to get more information. Right next to Institute is Bao Dai Palace, an old palace of Bao Dai King but lately, it is in construction and they are not allowed to get inside for visit. Travel Indochina

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The Clown Fish which could be familiar to you in the movie “Finding Nemo”.

Save the best for the last, don’t forget to spend one full day to visit Vinpearl Land from 9 AM to 9 PM and you won’t regret about it. Vinpearl Land could have a high entrance fee but after one day in there, you will agree with me that it’s worth the money.

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Located on Tre Island, you will take a cable car in 15 minutes to get on the island.

In here, you can challenge yourself with all the adventure games in the Amusement Park outside like the roller coaster, bungee, pirate ship…, get inside the Game Center to play various video games or play in the Water Park that you and your friends or family can play together.The highlight part in this place is seeing the best aquarium in Nha Trang to witness many creatures so close that you can only see on TV.

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Spend your time to enjoy the white sand beach then get ready to follow me in my next post to visit Dalat, the romantic city or the city of flower.

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