Fancy some roasted peanuts? What about lạc rang húng lìu which hails from Hanoi? Lạc rang húng lìu or spiced roasted peanuts is a delicious snack that can be enjoyed by all ages (well, as long as you have good teeth 😜). It’s awesome with a cup of tea, wine or beer. I reckon it’ll be awesome in ice-cream, pastry or salad. Lạc rang means roasted peanuts while húng lìu is a spice seasoning powder comprises of four or five ingredients such as cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves and sometimes sweet basil.
Húng lìu is the Vietnamese version of Chinese’s five-spice powder though they are quite different in flavors. Besides roasted peanuts, húng lìu is also used in meat marinating especially pork, beef, duck and seafood. The meat is usually roasted, grilled or stewed. The flavor of húng lìu may differ slightly depending on the proportion of the spices used and mixing method. Btw, húng lìu means sweet basil. Surprise! Surprise!
Bảo Hương lạc rang húng lìu. Notice that the peanuts are quite similar in size. It’s an important aspect of lạc rang húng lìu.
Have you eaten or heard about bánh chả before? Literally, bánh chả means meat cake/roll. It’s called what’s it’s called because the crunchy golden brown morsel looks similar and share the similar shaping technique to the meat roll. The special thing about bánh chả is the use of lime leaves, fat blocks and sugar in the filling. Wait till you try one and you’ll know how different and unique bánh chả is. I bought the sweet and savory bánh chả as a souvenir from two different brands; Bảo Minh and Hương Trà when I visited Hanoi late last year.
The bánh chả from Hương Trà looks like chocolate chips cookie, eh?
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.