Since our planned excursion with the Hanoi Kids was cancelled, Kristi and I had to figure out what to do instead. We decided to still go ahead and explore the Old Quarter Hanoi at night, even though we had to ‘play it by ear’ without a tour guide. We stopped by at the front desk of our hotel, and once again the helpful front desk lady provided us with a map of the Old Quarter streets, and told us that since it was Friday night, there was a street market that we should check out.
During the planning for the trip, I did some Internet research to find out what people had to say about the best street foods you can find in Hanoi. Of course each individual has his/her preference on the best place to go for a certain dish, so I decided to just gather a list of the places many people mentioned about ‘the best place to get …’ Most of the places are addresses in the Old Quarter Hanoi where you can find the street vendors. Many of these places didn’t necessary have name; so you pretty much treat it as ‘going to the place at the particular address where they serve a specific dish.’
Since we didn’t really have any particular plan for the night, we decided to look at the list of the street vendors and tried to locate the street name on our map. Once we found the street, we started to plot our walking route from the hotel to the streets, and we came up with a route that should pass several of these food vendors. We decided to make this our own ‘Vietnamese street food walking tour.’
The first place we located on the map was very close from our hotel; it was around the block, only about two minute walk. It’s a little food stand selling bún cá, a rice noodle soup dish with fried fish fillet and vegetables. When we got to the place, there were three tables and enough seating for less than eight people. There were a couple of people eating, and an old gentleman at the front preparing the dish. I don’t know if he understood English, I just use hand gesture to ask for one bowl of the bun ca (the only item on the menu). While the food itself was pretty cheap (about 15000 VND, around USD $0.75), we only ordered one to share so we could save some room for more things to try out later on that night. It was pretty tasty; a good way to start the night. At the end, again with hand gestures I asked the old man how much it was, and he used his hand gestures to indicate that it was 15,000 VND.
The photo below was taken from across the street of the small noodle store. You can see the kitchen set up in the front of the store with the old man working on the food behind the counter. The little table for two where we sat was the one on the front right near the bicycle.