In the early 1920s, food connoisseur and writer Thach Lam penned the following words about street food in Hanoi: “There is no time in a day that one can’t find street food. Each hour is a different one; eating street food is an art: one has to eat at that right hour and buy it from that right man — that’s a connoisseur.”
November is when Hanoi says goodbye to autumn and welcomes winter. The pleasant mild and cool weather is said to tempt people to eat — just thinking of hot rice porridge or steaming rice dumplings warms you up while riding back from work. Not surprisingly, at this time of year, mid-afternoon snacks are popular with Hanoians.
No other coffee shops could spark such enthusiasm like Café Bet, a group of undefined small coffee stalls in the park on Han Thuyen in District 1. My workmates shrieked with excitement when I asked, “Is Bet still going?” Just a few minutes later, passionate conversations sparked up about best spots to sit — or even more controversial topics, like what to do when the authorities visit.
Before anything else, Van Anh — owner of Ho Chi Minh City's only Indonesian restaurant, House of Salvation — is a musician. She is a multi-talented instrumentalist who has played since she was five years old, and has travelled the world entertaining music lovers.
As the street corners in Hanoi start feeling the onset of autumn, things start to get a little romantic. Streets are filled with yellow leaves, trees quiver in the light breeze and the air is perfumed with that special aroma of milky flower.
Those craving Middle Eastern food in Hanoi no longer have to settle for a sidewalk doner kebab. At Beirut, an international chain that’s finally found its way to the Vietnamese capital, Lebanese staples like falafel, hummus and moussaka are served in a sophisticated setting. The food is as authentic as it gets in Vietnam, though like everything made with imported ingredients, it doesn’t come cheap.
You know that roundabout at Dien Bien Phu and Nguyen Binh Khiem, the one you hit right before you enter Binh Thanh? If you’re hooking around it real fast the only glimmer of Palpitation that you’ll see is a slim red heart in a modest window, an entryway only slightly unlike other entryways.