restaurants

Having a few at the beer drinking street in Hanoi and eating Bun Cha

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When I’m on on vacation, I drink beer. I just do, as do most of us, moreso than I do when I’m not on vacation. So when I was in Hanoi, I was like, why not do it where everyone else does it? That is at the Beer Drinking Street, which is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

Basically, on this stretch of restaurants and bars, during the weekends, they set up hundreds of little stools outside of all the establishments. People are encouraged to come, sit on the stools, and drink a few cold ones. While I was there, I was crying to myself “Why don’t they have this in China?!?! ;-(

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We walked our way down through the Old Quarter.

I met up with a couple friends whom I had recently met in Hanoi, my friends Ri and Hynek. Super cool dudes! We had some bun cha for dinner which is a pork dish with noodles, and we also had some egg rolls and beers. It was absolutely delicious to say the least and it really only cost a few dollars including the beer!

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Vietnamese food is delicious to say the least!

We went down to the beer drinking street soon after dinner together and poured out a few. It was a good time for sure. As the night started to really fire up around 9-10 PM the crowds started to get insane!

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At one point it was hard to walk anywhere without bumping into anyone.

The atmosphere and vibe of the drinking street is super laid back and super cool. The nightlife in Hanoi is super affordable as well, so it didn’t break the bank at all. A standard beer in Hanoi even at bars can be had for as little as 20,000-100,000 dong (Between 1-4 dollars) and food is also very cheap. I ordered some nachos for 120,000 dong ($5.41 USD) if I remember correctly. We hit up a bar later that night and finished the night off with a little hooka session, which I hadn’t done in years.

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Hynek hitting up the hooka like a boss

Overall, the beer drinking street is one of the coolest nightlife spots I have ever been in my entire life, and in my opinion, the coolest during my time in Hanoi. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are looking for new cooking videos/traveling videos every week! See you next time!

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Zhou: A traditional Chinese porridge breakfast.

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This morning I went down with my girlfriend to yet another local laoban at Dafen. For breakfast we had pi dan shou rou zhou (皮蛋瘦肉粥), which is a delicious rice porridge with pi dan (The century old egg which I have mentioned many times in this blog), a few assorted vegetables and some pork.

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pi dan shou rou zhou, a Chinese rice porridge with pi dan, pork, and vegetables.

Not only do I absolutely love this porridge, it’s very cheap! At only 3 RMB a bowl, that is about a half dollar US. One bowl is also very filling. This is a very traditional dish that many people eat in Chinese villages throughout the country. This specific zhou however is a little different – many villages will just do a plain rice porridge with nothing else. This one is a bit of a “designer” porridge as it has pi dan and meat and vegetables added.

Let’s talk about the taste of pi dan shou rou zhou. There are a couple words I can use to describe it. Light, creamy, smooth and delicious!  Normal rice porridge is well, let’s face it, kind of a dull meal, but Chinese people generally would eat it with a side mantou, 馒头, which is kind of a bread-roll, and vegetables. I mentioned before this is like designer zhou, sort of a fancy kind. The addition of the pi dan is excellent because it gives the zhou a really creamy and delicious flavor and texture. My personal favorite way to eat it is by adding some lajiao to it:

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I really like to “fan lajiao” to my zhou.

Overall, zhou is one of those classic Chinese breakfasts that is filling, cheap, and delicious. That’s about it for today’s entry but I’d like to leave you with Episode 7 of my cooking show: Lemon Lajiao Chicken!

Chang fen: A cheap, delicious and exotic breakfast in China.

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This morning I felt like going down the street to my local laoban (The boss of an establishment in China, in this case the boss of a restaurant) and ordering a bit of Chang fen.

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Chang fen (肠粉) is a very common breakfast in China. It is made with rice paste (Rice ground up in a machine and mixed with water) eggs, meat, and vegetables. The way they cook it is by steaming it in a multirack steamer. They crack an egg on a cooking tray, mix in the rice paste, spoon in some ground pork, a couple vegetables and send it in the steamer for a very short time.

When it comes out of the steamer, they pour on top a sauce which is a mixture of soy sauce, oil and water and garlic. When served, I recommend adding a dash of chinese chilis, lajiao (辣椒) to give it a little more kick and flavor. When I came in the restaurant with my girlfriend this morning, the laoban gave us 2 complimentary drinks of dou jiang, 豆浆, or hot soybean milk!

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dou jiang, 豆浆, hot soybean milk. Sweet creamy and delicious!

The soybean milk is probably the most common drink at breakfast for Chinese people. It can be served hot and cold, and is very refreshing either way.

When you bite into chang fen for the first time, it might seem a bit plain. It is a breakfast food that can be done very poorly, or very graciously! I have had terrible chang fen, and mind blowing chang fen. This restaurant is up there with high quality, but not quite the best. However, the cost is just amazing. One order of chang fen at most places in the city runs for about 4 ¥, or ~.64 USD! I got two eggs with mine, so mine was 5¥, about .80 cents. For the two of us it was only 9¥ total, ~$1.50! The soybean milk was complimentary but normally costs around 2¥, .32 cents.

To describe the taste, think of rice. The base of this dish is a rice paste, so think of rice but in sheets instead of rice grains. The texture is different, but the flavor is a bit plain and the same as eating white rice. This is why they have the sauce served with it to give it more flavor, and also adding lajiao or cilantro on top is a good way to bring out the flavor.

Overall I definitely recommend trying chang fen if you are in China, or even recommend it as a daily breakfast if you live here. It is cheap, delicious, and relatively healthy compared to most foods on the street. I’ll leave you with a recipe for two bean spicy beef chili, which is episode 5 on my cooking show (The lighting in this episode is not very good, I apologize for that, but in all episodes after the lighting issue is fixed 🙂