Our Hanoi day 2 trip has been an eating feast so far = hotel buffet breakfast, ice-cream at Kem Tràng Tiền, cheese tart at Pablo Cheesetart, lunch of chả cá Lã Vọng at Chả Cá Phan, avocado smoothie at Coconut Juice and chocolate break at Maison Marou. Rest assured I have two more places to blog about for day 2 and this is the first one.
We went to Xôi Yến for dinner which is just about 5 mins walk from our hotel. This is one of the eateries that I was looking forward to because I’m a lover of mung bean and sticky rice (also known as glutinous rice). In Chinese cuisine, we have a dish that combine mung bean (whole) and sticky rice and that is Cantonese bak chang (Cantonese rice dumplings). It’s my very favorite when done right. So, I can imagine if we were to marry mung bean (paste) and sticky rice and then top with offsprings (various good looking toppings), it would be lip-smacking good.
A bowl of deliciousness.
Xôi Yến operates from the wee hour of the morning (4am!) and we actually planned to have it for breakfast earlier today but got sidetracked by the buffet spread in our hotel. Hehe Never fear as Xôi Yến opens until midnight. Tsk, the opening hours info is from their website. There are several different opening hours from various online sources and I’m unsure which one is the true one. Decided to follow the official website hours.
The first thing you’ll notice upon nearing Xôi Yến is the amount of food spread right before your eyes at their serving station and the busyness as a whole. I can see that the locals love sticky rice a lot as this place is almost always busy all the time.
We choose to dine at the ground floor and it’s a bit warm here. How cute are the low table and short plastic chair? The dining area is quite crowded, and even for a short person like myself, I find it hard to sit this low and eat. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve sat on plenty of short chairs (lower than this) while eating (Asian ma) but usually, I have enough room to place my legs in a comfortable position and there’s no table in front of me. I eat while holding my plate or place the plate on my lap, you see. Still, I appreciate this new kind of dining experience.
The base of Xôi Yến’s menu is sticky rice (xôi in Vietnamese) and they have 3 varieties to choose from; sticky rice with corn (xôi ngô), sticky rice with crispy shallots and fat (xôi xéo), and white sticky rice (xôi trắng). Without further ado, we automatically went for the one with crispy shallots and fat. I’m not sure what kind of fat they use but suspect it’s lard as I couldn’t detect any in our bowl. Price is 15,000 VND (~RM2.80) per bowl.
Sis and I shared a bowl because we doubted we can fill our stomach a bowl each after all the eating today. The waiter who took our order (yes to English menu!) hesitated a bit since we only ordered one. We told him we’re still full but wanted to try. Thankfully he’s okay with it. We went there during peak hours, so it was a busy time for them. Our order came after quite a bit of waiting and reminding. We shared a table with a local and it was really crammed. It was like sharing table in Hong Kong. Thankfully he finished quite fast and we were able to have the table for ourselves.
We choose only two toppings although I wished we could get more; fried hard boiled egg @ 8,000 VND (~RM1.50) and roasted cinnamon pork paste (chả quế) @ 8,000 VND (~RM1.50). They have over 10 toppings to choose from and I was salivating especially the pork ones. You can’t see the sticky rice in the photos as it’s hidden beneath the mung bean paste.
Our total came to 30,000 VND (~RM5.60). I thought it was 31,000 VND. Hmmm… I think we received 1,000 VND discount. Haha
By the by, I’m not sure how to order the toppings as side dishes (in each individual bowl) as I’ve seen online but know that they’re more expensive. I figured they’re a better choice for large group.
Spicy pickled cucumber is service. Despite being very simple, it was delish eaten with the sticky rice. This humble pickle reminded me of my grandma’s pickled cucumber with chili that I grew up eating.
The combination of mung bean paste with sticky rice is indeed delicious. Both aren’t dry but I still need some kind of moisture to help down it and the spicy pickled cucumber helped a lot. The crispy shallots definitely make it more omph. I could taste a light hint of cinnamon from the pork paste and the fried hard boiled egg is something I haven’t eaten for a long time.
The meal wasn’t served piping hot nor cold, just a little warm. It’ll be even better if served freshly steamed just like bak chang. There is bottled condiment on the table like soy sauce and chili sauce and we tried the chili sauce. It was yummy but we didn’t continued as the chili sauce bottle is off putting.
They certainly need to improve on the hygiene. Notice the red cover thingy covering the large bowl? It’s plastic warming something (mung bean paste if not mistaken) beneath. Yikes!
Overall, I enjoyed our dinner. It has this homey comfort taste and the atmosphere is quite similar to dai pai dong. Besides, it’s very affordable. I sure am looking forward to my next Xôi Yến visit. Hoping for a cleaner environment and a bowl of hot sticky rice with mung bean paste and yummy toppings.
35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân,
Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm
Hà Nội, Vietnam
Tel: +84 439 341 950
Opening time: 4am-12am, daily