|Pho 10 & a cute uncle with a Power Rangers backpack...|
After checking in to the awesome hotel that is Rising Dragon Cathedral Hotel, we were pumped and prepped to check out the streets of Hanoi! The first mission: Breakfast!
If there's one thing you should not trust Hanoi people with, it's food recommendations. This isn't because they recommend bad food. It's because they worry much about a foreigner's tastebuds, so hotel staff will usually recommend above-average priced, touristy destinations. We were told to go to one such place called Madame Hien, which was just behind our hotel. One look at the exterior told us that wasn't where the locals ate. Not contented, we walked back to the corner of the road where we had just passed this restaurant called Pho 10!
|The inside of Pho 10|
(The name of the place is cleverly done. Pho just refers to the noodles. 10 is their shoplot number on the street. So there's no excuse to forget the address of this place!)
|Really interesting (banister-less) stairs... the waitresses were bounding up and down these with ease!|
Inside, it doesn't look much different from a regular coffee shop back here in Malaysia. There are differences though; instead of the ever-present sambal, in Hanoi there is an array of condiments - sliced lime, chillis, a spicy sauce and another thin, watery sauce with pickles. These are the most essential add-ons for every bowl of Pho!
For the uninitiated, Pho is one of the national dishes of Vietnam. It refers to a type of Vietnamese noodle, typically served in bowl of soup with some herbs and meat. The picture above is the whole menu at Pho 10. Thankfully there were English translations. Although even then we still weren't entirely sure of the difference between flank, fillet, and brisket beef!
So when in doubt, order the most expensive! From top to bottom, we had the Tai (half done), Chin (well done) and the Bap Nam Gau (Brisket with flank & fillet beef). The first two cost VND 35,000 while the latter was VND 45,000. Actually, all the bowls of noodles looked pretty much the same. The biggest difference was in the beef used.
The noodles were lovely, slippery and slithery; just exactly what we needed after waking up in the wee hours of the morning for our flight. The half done beef (Tai) was also excellent - can you see the pinkish bits? We would recommend getting the half done because it also cooks a little more in your hot pho soup if you leave it uneaten for too long.
What really makes each bowl of noodles different is the addition of the lime, chilli and the sweetish-sourish pickled sauce that makes the noodles take a different dimension altogether depending on how many dashes of each you put in. We really enjoyed the sharp chilli sauce, spooning it into our noodles like how we would spoon more sambal into nasi lemak or chilli pan mee! Of course, fresh herbs are a common feature in Vietnamese food too, so expect lots of that too.
Ah yes, one more side dish that goes with any bowl of Pho; what we Chinese-Malaysians are more used to calling yao zha guai or you tiao! We got curious when we saw other table ordering it and asked for a serving too - the waitress told us it's called guai... not too different from us after all! These crullers in Hanoi are smaller, slightly more oily and much crispier. Dunking it in a bowl of Pho soup is a common way of eating this in Vietnam. Something we only discovered when we were there. ;)
|Where the Pho 10 magic happens.|
After breakfast / brunch, it was time to hit the streets to explore! The Old Quarter in Hanoi has plenty of interesting little shops, that sell things we'd never see over here. We found it so funny to see a shop advertising their "propaganda posters and paintings". No democratic country would ever have a shop like that, so it was a true sign that we were in Communist Vietnam!
If you think these wires look intimidating, think again! We saw ones that were far, far worse... More on Old Quarter to come in our next posts! =D
No. 10, Ly Quoc Su Street,
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: 43- 828 4455
Tel: 43- 828 4455