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Motormouth From Ipoh

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Motormouth Bids Hanoi Goodbye - The Finale

Continued from Halong Bay - Kayakking and Snake Wines ....

Little Hanoi Restaurant @ 9, Ta Hien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Tel : 04-9260168
I promised the finale will be arriving soon, didn't I? After the 117th chapter, and months and months of procrastination (and subsequent infection with the lazybug), finally ... ahem, FINALLY the Hanoi posts are coming to an END.
Phew. Probably you're heaving a sigh of relief as much as I am doing now. On second thought, maybe not. =)

Ya got some cash to spare? The Collage of Cash. From all over the World.
Back from the night stay on the boat at Halong Bay, we checked into Hanoi Blue Sky Hotel once again, for the very last night in Hanoi. Wow .... a week just flew by, and work's starting in 2 days!!! OMG. Why holidays seem shorter than workdays? Beats me.

Very, very dark ambience. Cozy, but poor lighting = bad for photographs
After resting our limbs and joints, we heeded the hotel owner's advice on a restaurant over at Ta Hien street, within walking distance from the hotel. Little Hanoi's the name, serving up authentic Vietnamese dishes in an air-conditioned setting. A quaint little cafe of sorts, with a branch across the lane. Why they chose to open a branch within walking ... no, make that 'spitting' distance? Beats me. Again.

Grilled Pork with Citron and Chilli, Caramel @ 50,000 VND/RM10/USD2.90
Strange name for a dish, therefore I ordered this. Only to realise citron = LEMONGRASS!!! Alamak ..... my most feared dream came true.
Luckily, the taste of the dastardly plant was far from overwhelming. In fact, the grilled pork strips with lemongrass and chillies, then sprinkled with sesame seeds, was rather tasty and oozing with flavour. That's where the caramelized part originated, probably.

L-R : ??? (sorry, lost the receipt), Mixed Spring Rolls (30,000VND/RM6/USD1.70), and Grilled Aubergine (40,000 VND/RM8/USD2.30)
The spring rolls were nothing extraordinary, resembling most of the fried stuff we had on boat, and in Sapa. But the grilled aubergine (eggplant) was sweet, and savoury at the same time. Realised that most Vietnamese restaurants serve brinjals/eggplants in their menu.

Fried Noodles with Seafood and Vegetables (55,000 VND/RM11/USD3.20)

The lightly stir-fried noodles with seafood and assorted vegetables was fresh, crunchy (from the various greens) and delicious. The noodles used was of the thin, 'king noodles' aka 'Wong Dai Meen' kind. But not the cheapest option, that's for sure.

Fried catfish with Dill and Spices (55,000 VND/RM11/USD3.20)
But the best dish of the evening had to be the fried catfish with dill and spices. Served with lots of caramelized onions, chopped dill and spices, the catfish fillets were lightly-coated with batter, and fried to perfection. The tender and succulent fish fillet reminded us of the catfish spring rolls we had at Highway 4 a few days earlier. A must-try, if you ever step into Little Hanoi, or its sister outlets elsewhere.
On the whole, the food at Little Hanoi was average at best, with some hits and some misses. With prices slightly higher than the average street fare, this place is best for tourists longing for a comforting meal, with a soothing ambience to boot. And Little Hanoi even boasted on its listing in Lonely Planet.

Don't look up. Lest you want your eyes to get criss-crossed from all the wires.

Scooping niftily into each glass, she worked with such charm

While the gals were busy doing what they do best (read : shopping), we wandered over to a shop serving nothing but sweet desserts, in the form of 'Che', or mixed ice dessert.
A glass at 10,000 VND/RM2/USD0.60 only

The concoction was refreshing, albeit slightly out of place amidst the cold weather. The ingredients in the glass? Colourful, sweet and chewy items. Sorry as Motormouth forgot about itemization when seated on those low stools, threatening to break one's back after a hard day's work. I mean, walk.

Aiks! Anyone can translate?!!! Maybe got the influence from our very own ABC?

'Oc' or snails, boiled to the delight of the masses.

Where even the most sane female would go Ga-Ga over. And over.

Wondering what they're digging into?

THIS. Thit Bo Kho @ Beef Jerky Salad @ 10,000 VND/RM2/USD0.60
At this corner lot (not even a lot, it's by the sidewalk) facing the lake at the northern end, many people were squatting by the pathway, seated on the small plastic stools, tucking in with much gusto. Thit Bo Kho. OK, the green light was given, as no 'CHO' in the name. Cho = Dog's meat, in case you're wondering.
But it was here that I learned a tough lesson. A very, very memorable one at that. Since people always say "Do what the locales do, if you're not sure of a certain custom in a foreign country", I ordered a plate of whatever the guy next to us ordered, and proceeded to inspect with caution. OK, the plate of greens and herbs was topped with slices of beef jerky, from fat cuts to lean ones, and crushed peanuts. So far, so good.
Then of course lah, being an obedient boy (hehe), I followed suit whatever the guy was doing. He squeezed a liberal amount of chilli sauce from the plastic bottle placed conveniently on the floor within reach from every patron.
The chilli sauce looked harmless enough, more like garlic chilli sauce from Kampung Koh, at most. But boo-hoo-hoo. NEVER underestimate a chilli sauce from any Asian country. One minute I was jokingly teasing, joking and laughing about, the very next I was breathing FIRE !!! My throat was scorched, I was choking and instantenously, my hand shot up and ordered a glass of, what else? Whatever drink the guy ordered. Though this time I had to put my faith in him.

Some random sights at the eastern side of the lake
But credits to be given where they're due, the salad was a fresh mix of raw vegetables, with various herbs, and the grilled beef jerky reminded me of our very own Char Siew, albeit slightly drier. And remember to hold the chilli sauce, or spread it thoroughly, before popping a whole mouthful of them firecrackers.

The only lighted structure in the middle of the lake

Trang Tien Plaza @ the southern part of Hoan Kiem Lake
The temperature was at an all-week low, even colder than Sapa at night. And me wearing mere short pants and slippers wasn't helping one bit. I felt out of place, as the Vietnamese were all brandishing winter wear, or at least sweaters and jackets. While us Malaysians were still revelling in our summer, and strolling around in shorts, t-shirts and such. Such arrogance, eh?

One of the Best spot for a cuppa hot coffee, overlooking the lake
It was very chilly, with strong wind blowing every few seconds, and I practically shivered and hid behind every tree, lamp post, and whatnots that I stumbled upon. Yeah, and a full bladder ain't helping at all. There was NO public toilet in sight, hence I trudged my way over to Trang Tien Plaza at the far south end of the lake. A requeim from the freezing weather, and of course, succumbing to nature's call. :)

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre @ the Northern end of the Lake
Hanoi Guesthouse bought the tickets to the water puppet show for us. Two types of seats available, at 40,000 VND/RM8/USD2.30 or 60,000 VND/RM12/USD3.40. We were given the former, as the better seats (nearer to the stage) were all booked by tour groups that day. And notice that the guesthouse bought the tickets for us IN ADVANCE. Hence early booking is highly advised. We asked for the later show, as we feared we could not make it in time, after all the shopping and dilly-dally-ing.

The Best chapter throughout the show.
Showtime was at 9.00pm (10.00 pm Malaysian time); rather late, by their standards. Happened to be the last show for the day. Do take note that the water puppet show is presented in Vietnamese language ONLY, no translation, though you'll be given a brochure listing the skits in various languages. Comprehension may be hard, but the main point was to embrace and appreciate their efforts in reliving what could be the main form of entertainment back then. Many may find the show boring though. But refrain from snoring, OK?

The cast of the 1 hour show. Wonder how they protect their permanently wetted feet.
We were drained after the show. The cold weather was rather discouraging, and we flagged any taxis in sight. Though at that hour, not many were willing to fetch all 6 of us in one cab. But we succeeded, and sped to our rooms in record time.
After a while, hunger pangs struck, at the most unGodly hour. But with a gleam of hope, half of the entourage ventured bravely down the streets of Old Quarter, at about 11.00pm (12 midnight M'sian time). Lo and behold, not only were most streets unlit, almost all of the shops and stalls were closed, or on the verge of closing for the day. Tough luck. We turned around, with tails between our legs (hehe), and fell into a deep, deep slumber ......

Goodbye Hanoi. Will there be another trip? ;)
And that's officially, a WRAP, folks. Take a bow now, it's curtain's call. 7 Days of Odyssey to one of the most interesting destination in Asia. The hellacious motorbikes, the trail of gastronomic delights, endless revelations and discoveries, historical monuments/ornaments/figures, and last but not least, the many faces and personalities of the Vietnamese people.
For the complete saga, please click and proceed from there.
Motormouth Bids Vietnam .... Tam Biet.


Selba said...


Ah... too bad, it's the end. I really enjoy reading your Vietnam's trip posts. It really brings the nice memory of my own trip in Vietnam :)

Hopefully there'll be more trips to come and be shared in here with the great stories and pictures!

SimpleGirl said...

interesting, water puppet show....I wish to visit Halong Bay..after reading your post and seeing all the beautiful photos.

worldwindows said...

Dua - 'D with the horizontal line in the middle)' is pronounced as 'Y'. 'U' with a apostrophe on right is pronounced as 'er' and the '`' accent mark on 'u' means a low sound. So it is pronounced as 'yer-a'. Like Mandarin for coconut. Yes its coconut in Vietnamese. 'Rau' is likely to be juice. My interpretation - Malaysian coconut juice. Vietnamese is easy to pronounced once the basic phonetics is mastered. Previously abt a 100 years ago they used Chinese scripts. Sorry for the rantings but since you asked! A good finale esp the night scene.

thenomadGourmand said...

worldwindows: wahh thks! i was really curious abt that part!
J2kfm: wat a holiday! whr r u off to nx??

CUMI & CIKI said...

and what a fantastic climax it is! seems sad its over now ya? i love the photo of that woman looking so earnestly at the snail.. dunno what she is hoping to see.. but erm... snail..?!

great shots!

Sugar Bean said...

Haha, the word Malaysia which appears on the menu seems so weird! Really wanna know what it means. The price of the food seems reasonable to me. Nice photos!

iamthewitch said...

Interesting story! I didn't know the water puppet show was performed by real humans. :P I thought you really meant puppets... LOL

Bangsar-bAbE said...

The street food looks more enticing to me... =D

I especially like the beef jerky salad shot... *drools*

Tummythoz said...

Think when I visit, I'll just put a title & link the posts to yours. So complete with attractive pix, how to go wrong. Hehehe.

550ml jar of faith said...

Goodbye Hanoi posts... will miss you tremendously! I remember the water puppet show quite fondly... I was thoroughly charmed then! I think thanks to you, a trip back is way overdue!

allie said...

Will definitely mark your post and will make it as my reference if I were to visit Vietnam!

FoOd PaRaDiSe said...

wow.... absolutely a good detail blog of vietnam food and scenary. ^o^

JENCOOKS said...

Nice odyssey you have in Hanoi in 7Days. Thanks for the prelude as I will use your interesting blogs as my guide for my trip including SAPA in May. More trips please !!!

jason said...

I think they should put your guide onto Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor. :)

Nic (KHKL) said...

nvr had i imagined dill being used in asian cooking..very cool stuff la.

and yes, i think the international culinary sign is to order what the person next to you is having (unless he/she is your travelling friend). then, turn to the other side d..hehe

mimid3vils said...

The grilled pork didn't look like grilled, did they fried it or something?

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Dei, u go to a place like Hanoi, of course u gonna ter-makan serai lah. LOL. Embrace it, my friend. *grin*

Anonymous said...

haha..paiseh paiseh..just saw the final i can start planning for my hanoi trip d.ehehhehe..:p.all thanks to ur info.hv a nice day!!

foongpc said...

Wow! The food all look so delicious especially the fried catfish!

Yeah, so many wires in front of the building I get dizzy already! Haha!

Timothy Low said...

Oh yeah. Vietnam is soooo gorgeous. I must make my next trip there....

I did experience a little Vietnam when I was in Melbourne ... vietnam towns.. haha.

I'll write about it ... soon.

J2Kfm said...

Selba : thought ppl would be heaving a sigh of relief. a huge one.hahaha ....
more trips to come, but international destinations may be far n between.

SimpleGirl : can make arrangement from now. :) never too late . ..

worldwindows : oh thanks for the explanation. probably referring to good old M'sia's coconut juice?!

thenomadGourmand : next? erm, if you're referring to the near future, then it's KL. hahaha ... if that can be considered a holiday.

Cumi & Ciki : haha ... they really DIG them!!!

Sugar Bean : refer worldwindows comment before this. if that's true.

iamthewitch : they controlled the puppets, behind the scene. much like our very own wayang kulit, which i'm ashamed to admit, i've yet to witness one.

Bangsar Babe : food's top eh? :)

Tummythoz : ahahhaha .... erm, permitted plagiarism? not bad. sans the toilet shots though.

550ml jar of faith : oh were you? I actually find the show rather interesting, though no idea what they were talking bout.

allie : thanks for following. the patience is much appreciated.

J2Kfm said...

Food Paradise : i think the place deserves as much attention as the other ASEAN destinations.

Jencooks : you're going in May? hehe i mean, will it be hot by then? but Sapa should be ok.
cant wait to see ur experience/.

jason : wah ... far from it lah. people dun wanna read such long-winded grandfather stories i think.

Nic : haha, how true. but this time i kena tricked. burnt my tongue somemore.

mimid3vils : erm, more like stir fried to me. but still yummy to the others.

Lyrical Lemongrass : whoopsie. hahahah ... i knew i'm gonna torch the Serai Queen somehow. thousand apologies ... :)

Anonymous : you're welcomed!

foongpc : catfish is good, so much like McD's Filet o Fish taste.

Timothy Low : Vietnam towns in Melbourne? cool. keepin my fingers crossed now.

ling239 said...

love pic # 8 ~ ^_^

YilingL said...

wow makes me feel like going to hanoi next!

J2Kfm said...

ling239 : the one with all the wires? :)

YilingL : after your Perth intoxification? ahem. a bit modest now, arent we?

Miso said...

Found your blog when I was researching on Hanoi/ Sapa. You have great photos here... Will be doing a 9-Day trip to Hanoi/ Halong/ Sapa next mth :)