HANOI’S TOFU PUDDING ( TÀO PHỚ)

Wandering Hanoi’s streets, people might easily hear the echoes of a tofu pudding seller: “Tào phớ đây!” (meaning “Here’s the tofu pudding!”). Looking around, they will see a man riding a bicycle with the front basket full of small bowls and take-away cups, carrying a big pot of tofu pudding which can keep the heat of the pudding for hours, a bottle of sugar syrup, a bag containing a handful of fresh jasmine flowers, and a small ice chest.

pho_bayPhoto by google

Due to the fact that tofu pudding is made from soybean, which is believed to have a natural cooling effect, calming the heat of human body, this street dessert is very popular in the summer. A typical bowl of Hanoi’s tofu pudding looks incredibly simple but is refreshing and full of summery flavour. Observing the seller making tofu pudding might be a strangely satisfying and relaxing experience for customers. First of all, some ice cubes will be put into the serving bowl to help cool off the heat of the tofu pudding and also the heat of summer in this tropical country. Second, with a sharp flat metal spoon in the hand, the seller will skillfully scoop out some thin slices from the hot pudding in the pot, neatly and quickly putting those slices into the serving bowl. After pouring some sugar syrup into that bowl, jasmine flowers then will be added on top to decorate as well as creating a gentle floral scent and flavour.

Whether you are a local who is just too familiar with this sweet treat, or a visitor who loves exploring, it is worth spending a few minutes to stand on the pavement, asking for a bowl of tofu pudding, observing step by step how this delightful street snack is served, then enjoying the taste of summer melted in your mouth.

“Bia Hơi” at Ta Hien Street

Hanoi’s nightlife scene offers a multitude of interesting things to see and places to go well after the sun sets. There are some lively bars and glitzy nightclubs conveniently set around Hoan Kiem Lake or in the Old Quarter, where you can enjoy great tunes and all sorts of booze as well as mix and mingle with fun-loving locals and expats.

bia tạ hiệnTa Hien by Night – Photo by google

However, a night out in Hanoi could not be fulfil without sitting on plastic stools and enjoy “Bia Hơi” (Vietnamese draft beer) along the bustling streets. A must-visit for any first-time visitor to Hanoi, Bia Hơi Junction is widely-regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot in Hanoi.

Open throughout the day and late into the night, the ever-bustling beer haven is located at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter, where you can see hundreds of people sitting on plastic stools with a pint of Bia Hơi in hand. Being available at numerous makeshift bars within that junction, Bia Hơi is a type of Vietnamese draft beer that only contains about 4% alcohol. Although it is not strong as European beer standards, Bia Hơi is incredibly cheap where you can enjoy a tall glass between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000.

Needless to say, Bia Hơi Junction attracts a steady following of locals, expats and tourists who are looking to down some ice cold beers all night long. Alternatively, there are several bars that sell soft drinks and imported beers for about VND 30,000. In addition to numerous Bia Hơi joints with colourful plastic chairs spilling onto the streets, you can also find makeshift stalls selling a variety of snacks such as steamed peanuts, fried tofu, skewered meats and delicious beef jerky.

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Bia Hơi & Snacks – Photo by google

As it can get very packed here, do keep your wits about and be mindful of your belongings. Nonetheless, Bia Hơi Junction is great for drinking on a budget as well as experiencing the local culture. The carnival atmosphere is a really memorable snapshot of Hanoi nightlife.

Address:

Night Market, corner of Ta Hien Street and Luong Ngoc Quyen street

(It takes you only 10 minutes to walk there from both Silk Path Hotel Hanoi & Silk Path Boutique Hanoi)

Summer Flower in Hanoi

Hanoi is famous for its wide variety of beautiful flowers in each season so Hanoian love to decorate their homes with seasonal aromatic flowers. You may not recognize a new season comes until suddenly witnessing them brightly blossoming along every street. Hanoians, who are far away from their hometown, always feel a deep longing of the flower seasons.

However, summer is the most special season for blossoming flower in Hanoi. Coming to Vietnamese capital during summer season, you will see many kinds of flowers in street’s vendorsthat makes the city be more striking and colorful.

Lotus – National flower

11030656_10203635162345685_981568426_oPhoto by Google

The lotus is a delicate flower with many layered petals arrayed around a central core. Some of them will be sold in the market and the rest will be separated to get pistils for making famous West Lake lotus tea.

The lotus are seen as meaning ofpurity and devotion so it is the reason why it is chosen as the National flower of Vietnam with pure and elegant beauty, which attracts every eyes.

On summer mornings, visit the lotus pond to breathe in the scent of lotus flowers, make lotus tea or enjoy its taste in the peaceful ambiance of the West lake will remark as the most unforgettable Hanoi’s memory.

Phoenix-flower

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Photo by Google

Phoenix-flower is seem to give the signal of coming summer. It blooms most flamboyantly from April to June. This flower is considered as student’s flower since its blooming time is in Vietnamese school’s farewells so that it can recall all the best memories of student’s life

Lagerstroemia

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Photo by Google

A legend told that: “Once upon a time, Jade Emperor had twelve dear daughter. In one day, he askedhis daughters to transform into 12 flowers, each is signal for one month. Their mission wasto make the earth morebeautifully. And, the last-born daughter, who was the most beautiful and innocent, expected to become lagerstroemia tree. At that time, there was a poor student fell in love with that purple flower, so that he took lagerstroemia home to plant. Days by days, the fairy flower and the student loved each other deeply. Unlucky, the Emperor did not allow them marry and forced his daughter came back to heaven. Despite that, the student still loved her unchangeablely. Nonetheless, lagerstroemia represents innocent and faithful of first true love.

Coming to Hanoi, you will be attracted by our colorful flower as lotus in pink, phoenix-flower in red and lagerstroemia in purple, and sure that you will memorize them for a long time.

SILK STREET – HANG GAI STR.

Only 5 minutes walking distance from Silk Path Hotel Hanoi, Hang Gai Street is the best place in Hanoi to shop for high quality, fashionable silk materials, traditional Vietnamese apparel, and home furnishings. Also known as Silk Street, the entirety of this 300 metre-long street is lined with fashion boutiques and local tailor shops that have been operating for decades, where you can also order personally tailored suits and dresses that are made to measure.

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Set on the edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake, Hang Gai is renowned for its quality and choice of craftsmen. Most of the stores are offered ready-to-wear pieces which is perfect for your pressed time. However, you can get a tailor-made outfit for a better fits. Suits can be ready within 24 hours, though it’s best to allow more time for a second fitting to make sure that your outfit is perfectly tailored.

Hang Gai consists of two or three blocks of small shops that all specialize in silk and embroidery. The merchandise at the various stores is similar, however, the prices, quality, selection and service vary.

Aside from boutiques and tailor shops, Hang Gai Street also hosts a number of souvenir shops selling notebooks, lamps and postcards as well as prominent art galleries such as Thang Long Art Gallery or XQ hand embroidery pictures.

Recommendation

– Tanmy Design: 61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
66 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

– Thao Silk: 69-73 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

– Khai Silk: 113 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

– XQ hand embroidery 13 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

YOUNG RICE – A FLAVOUR OF HANOI AUTUMN

“Cốm” (young rice) is a delicacy that is made only in autumn and cherished by all Vietnamese. For Hanoians, nothing evokes autumn like the taste of young rice from Vong village. First rice collected from field is threshed and sieved. Then well rounded rice seeds are selected and roasted. It is necessary to stir steadily to keep the heat stable. After that roasted seeds are crushed about ten times and finished Cốm is wrapped in lotus leaves to absorb their subtle scent.

To Hanoians, Cốm is a rural popular gift, hence it is enjoyed in a very distinctively refined way. Young rice can be nibbled to feel the buttery and delicious taste. The dish is said to be a signal of autumn with its plain yet elegant taste, especially when it is enjoyed with ripe aromatic banana or persimmon.

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Chè Cốm – young rice sweet soup for dessert. Photo by google

Apart from plain Cốm, people nowadays make some more dishes from young rice as Bánh Cốm (sweet young rice cake), Cốm Xào (Fried Green Rice with sugar), Chè Cốm (young rice sweet soup for dessert), Chả Cốm (Grilled Minced Meat Cake) etc. Young sticky rice cake, together with yellow-colored wedding pastry, is symbol of steadfast and eternal love and becomes an indispensable item in engagement ceremony in Vietnam.

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Vòng village – Photo by google

Visit to Vong village (about five km from Hanoi) during the Cốm making season will have a chance to listen to the special rhythmic pounding of wooden pestles against mortars filled with young rice and see women shifting and winnowing the pounded young rice.

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Vong village: Dich Vong precinct, Cau Giay district, Hanoi city. – 20 mins from Silk Path by car

Bánh Cốm (sweet young rice cake): Hang Than street, Hanoi city. – 5 mins by car from Silk Path Hotel Hanoi and 7 mins by car from Silk Path Boutique Hanoi

Hanoi Traffic

The traffic in Hanoi is truly mesmerizing: one of the wonders of the world. That is because it flows in the most extraordinary way.

For the most part, traffic moves along at about 15-miles-per-hour; sometimes a little faster and sometimes slower, depending on the time of day. Looking at the traffic is like watching a column of ants, going hither and thither in a courteously chaotic way. The only absolute rule on the roads is to keep to the right. Everything else is improvisation.

hanoi traffic

Source: Internet

Central to the Hanoi traffic triumph are scooters and very light motorcycles (some of them electric), and even bicycles — although compared to 20 years ago, the bicycle has nearly disappeared.

To the more than three million scooters, most of which take to the streets daily; skill, courtesy and physical courage of the riders are needed. They weave, dodge, brake, swerve, swoop, accelerate and slow down in what, to foreigners’ eyes, is an unscripted ballet

There are cars too, but they’re the minority. You must not only have patience, but also enough boldness to know that the river of motorcycles – a river that ebbs and rises, but never ceases – will accommodate you.

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Source: Internet

Everything happens on the darting, rushing motor scooters and mopeds of Hanoi. Families of three are transported; young men and young women ride abreast and meet on wheels.

If you want to cross the street, pluck up you courage and step into the maelstrom of motorized wonder, believing, as you must, that the mass of riders in Hanoi have extrasensory perception and will part, like the Red Sea, for you.

Who would believe that traffic could be so recreational?

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Dracontomelon Juice

Dracontomelon juice, “nước sấu” in Vietnamese, is a common drink in Hanoi during the hot summer.

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Source: Internet

Dracontomelon tree, which produces an edible fruit, is a common kind of tree in Cambodia, Vietnam and China. In Vietnamese, the plant is called “cây sấu” and is a familiar urban tree in Hanoi. The fruit is used in Vietnamese cuisine both as a souring agent and a candied treat.

To make dracontomelon juice, first the dracontomelon fruits need to be pickled. The fruits picked are big, not too young but not too ripe, and have no bruises. They are cleaned and peeled off. Then, the fruits are carved with circles in order to make them pickle faster and look nicer. Next, dracontomelon fruits are put in a jar together with cooked sugar water and chopped ginger. After a day or two, the pickled dracontomelon fruits and condensed juice are ready to be used.

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Source: Internet

When drink, just take out a few teaspoons of the fruits and its juice, mix with water, more sugar and add some ice. Dracontomelon juice will bring you a refreshing taste and make the Hanoi heat go away almost immediately!

Dracontomelon tree is planted on many streets and alley of the capital city because of its big shade. It bears fruit in the summer, which is why its juice is so popular as a way to cool off the heat. In addition to that, the price of a glass of dracontomelon juice is also very cheap, and it is sold in most cafes during the summer, especially in the Old Quarter where Silk Path Hotel Hanoi is located.

Phở Cuốn – Rolled Rice Pancake

Originated from the worldly famous “Phở” – Vietnamese rice noodle soup, “Phở Cuốn” is a fresh and tasty dish that has become a part of Hanoi cuisine in the last two decades.

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Source: Internet

According to stories, there was one street vendor at the corner of Ngu Xa and Nguyen Khac Hieu Street in Hanoi which sold traditional Vietnamese Pho for diners who were watching football late in the evening. One day, the broth ran out and there were some uncut noodles left. Therefore, to satisfy the hunger of customers, the man invented a new dish. He pressed the noodles like rice paper roll and then added the beef into the roll with herbs. When served, the rolls were dipped in the Vietnamese dipping sauce with sugar, vinegar, water, garlic and fish sauce. Surprisingly, the visitors were interested in this new food. After that, the shop changed to new style of Pho.

In the last 20 years, rolled Pho has become a special choice of Hanoi citizens. There has been some luxury restaurants selling it and the visitors are coming more frequently. The restaurants that sell rolled Pho usually also provide some other Pho dishes for the customers such as fried Pho with beef, deep fried Pho with eggs, crispy Pho; but guests would always choose rolled Pho as their first course.

Silk Path Hotel Hanoi is located just 15 minutes away by car from the famous Ngu Xa street which sells the most authentic Rolled Pho in the city.