Bánh đậu xanh or mung bean/green bean cake was the best souvenir I discovered in Hanoi. Hải Dương, located about 75km by car southeast of Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hanoi is famous for its fragrant bánh đậu xanh. When Emperor Bảo Đại (in 19th century) tasted the bánh đậu xanh from Hải Dương, he was so surprised by how good it is. Hence, he issued a royal decree to commend it. On the decree is the Rồng Vàng (golden dragon) symbol. Only Hải Dương bánh đậu xanh uses the rồng vàng image & sentence: bánh đậu xanh rồng vàng (golden dragon green bean cake) on their products.
While researching for my Hanoi trip last year, one of the thing that came up many times was bánh đậu xanh. As you may or may not know, I love anything mung bean. I professed my love for it here not too long ago. The thing about bánh đậu xanh is that I have never heard or seen anything like it before. I’ve eaten many food products made from mung bean in my life but this one is a big mystery. I just cannot imagine how it would taste like. I quickly bought a box of bánh đậu xanh on my first night at Hanoi. But I didn’t try it on the same night. I only tried it on the 2nd day, and before I knew it I’m hooked big time!
Bánh đậu xanh from Hương Nguyên & Bảo Hiên enjoyed with cuppa Hanoi green tea.
When we were staying at Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy, we passed by AHA Cafe at least twice daily. This is because the cafe is less than a minute walk from our hotel. On our last night (day 3) in Hanoi, we decided to visit this cafe that’s been drawing our attention daily with its fragrant coffee and crowd.
While in Hanoi, we wanted to try Cộng Cà Phê but somehow couldn’t find the right time. In total, we sampled two coffee places in Hanoi, and they are AHA Cafe and the rather disappointing Cafe Giảng.
I find Aha Cafe’s logo simple and yet captivating.
Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup that contains either beef (bò) or chicken (gà). In my opinion, it is the most popular and known Vietnamese dish in the world. I remember years back when Vietnamese cuisine started becoming famous in Malaysia, the first Vietnamese dish I learned of its name is phở. Funnily even after all these years, I have never tried phở before. That is until my visit to Hanoi.
While walking around the street of Hanoi, we saw many places selling phở. I almost always want to try ’em but oh save my stomach I need to. If I’m visiting Hanoi for a longer period, I would do many unplan pitstops.
My very first phở at Phở Gà 26, Hanoi.
Bánh mì and phở gotta be the two most popular dishes exported out of Vietnam. I’ve tried bánh mì several times in Malaysia and loved ’em every time. I figured this is one Vietnamese food that’s hard to mess up. Right?
What’s bánh mì? Bánh means baked/steamed/fried/boiled food items like bread, bun and cake while mì is wheat. In this case, it refers to wheat bread. In a complete food term, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich bread which consists of crispy and soft Vietnamese baguette (French-inspired) filled with meat, pâté, pickled vegetables, fresh vegetables and condiment.
Bánh mì thập cẩm (mixed bánh mì) at Bánh Mì 25.
Are you a fan of bún chả? It’s a big YES for me! Although I’ve never eaten bún chả prior to visiting Hanoi in October 2019, I always knew I’d liked it. True enough, my very first bún chả at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi on our first night in Hanoi had me fall head over heels in love with it. I thought the one at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi was very good. But wow oh wow Bún Chả Hàng Quạt is even better!
Our wonderful brunch spread at Bún Chả Hàng Quạt.
Cafe Giảng was our last eating feast pit stop for day 2 in Hanoi. Psst, we continued on our eating feast back at the hotel, devouring the super-rich Marou brownie. Our main mission at Cafe Giảng is to sample the famous egg coffee invented by the founder, Mr. Nguyen Giang. What’s egg coffee? Egg coffee or cà phê trứng is a Vietnamese coffee drink with beaten egg yolk and usually sweetened with condensed milk.
Left: Cà phê trứng đã (egg coffee cold)
Right: Đậu xanh trứng đã (egg with green beans cold)