It was my second time in Hanoi, and having already seen the key sights around the city 2 years ago, I thought it might be good to explore a little bit more in-depth into the capital city of Vietnam. This time, with the advent of more online products at cheaper products, I opted for Klook’s Old Quarter Food Tour to explore the culinary side of Hanoi.
We were a group of 3, and Alice of Crossing Vietnam Tours (the tour operator who has their services on Klook) picked us up at our hotel at 12pm for this walking food tour.
You can choose your own starting time when booking the Old Quarter Food Tour on Klook. It’s not promoted as a private tour, but on the day of our tour, it was just us 3, so it was like a free upgrade. There are some comments on Klook where the tour will be combined with other tourists for solo or couple travellers though.
First up: bánh mì – a Vietnamese baguette sandwich. Probably one of the popular dishes when people think of Vietnamese food.
We could choose a bánh mì each, and Alice recommended that we pick the top 3 on the menu and have them cut it into three to share.
We were seated on tiny stools with a tiny table inside the shop.
In a few minutes, the Hoi An Special Sandwich, Roast Chicken Sandwich and Roast Pork Sandwich were served. It tasted pretty good, but all bánh mì-s that I’ve had so far in Vietnam or otherwise all taste different in their own way.
Next stop: bún chả
We were initially offered a choice between this and phở, but since phở is easily accessible probably everywhere in the world, we opted for Hanoi’s specialty – and probably made the right choice there.
Bún chả originated in Hanoi and remains popular today. Instead of being simply soup noodles like phở, bún chả is served in a small bowl of soup with grilled pork, with noodles on the side to dip into the soup before eating it, similar to Japanese tsukemen.
Bún chả was also what Obama and Anthony Bourdain had in Hanoi for supper, so I guess they made the right choice too.
The very flavorful broth goes well with the rice noodles. On top of that, I actually prefer grilled meat over the boiled meat found in phở.
Lots of chilli and garlic to go along too.
This particular bún chả stall is spread across a small street, with the eating area in one shop and the kitchen in another.
After the two main meals, the next stop was for fruits.
The fruit stall, Hoa Béo, was along another small lane.
The fruits turned out to be a dessert bowl with a bunch of sliced fruits with condensed milk and ice.
There was a nice mix of fruits including jackfruit, grapes, honeydew, papaya, avocado, which should be mixed with the ice provided and stirred so that the condensed milk gets around the bowl.
The next stop was for snacks of Vietnamese spring rolls, prawn cakes and a vegetable puff (which I forgot what it is) through a gate adjacent to the St. Joseph’s Cathedral – not something that I would be able to find if I were to come here without a local.
The interior of the shop on a weekday afternoon – apparently it gets full on weekends, and there’s multiple floors of seating areas in this shop.
And the post-lunch snacks are here.
We didn’t want too much, since we were pretty full already, so these are reduced portions cut into three for the prawn cake, vegetable puff and fish cake (I think).
And not forgetting the Vietnamese spring roll, with beef.
It tasted pretty good too, might be even better if we weren’t so full and came here another time as a separate visit.
The last stop: Egg Coffee
The egg coffee place, Cafe Đinh, is located on the second level of a shophouse.
Up a steep staircase to the second floor.
And the bustling Cafe Đinh is right here. Truly a hidden gem.
The food tour includes the egg coffee here, but you’re free to order any other additional drinks as you like (at your own cost).
The ever-famous egg coffee, which seems quite hard to find (a good one) nowadays.
Alice explains that there are three steps to drink the egg coffee – first to taste the egg on top, next to pull the coffee from below to taste, and the third, once you’re satisfied with tasting both layers, to mix it together and drink it. It was my first time having egg coffee, despite this being my third trip to Vietnam, and I quite like it actually.
The tour concludes here at Cafe Đinh, which is just by the Hoàn Kiếm Lake on the Old Quarter side. Alice offered to walk us back to our hotel which is nearby, but we were sort of familiar with the area already, so we were able to get around from there.
Overall, Klook’s Old Quarter Food Tour was a great start to explore the culinary side of Hanoi, with the tour bringing us to local places, possibly with no cutbacks since the guide paid for all our food in cash before leaving for the next stop, and the places visited might not be 100% obvious to normal tourists, requiring a local’s knowledge to step into the place. Without the Old Quarter Food Tour, I might not know where to get these local food in Hanoi anyway. The Old Quarter Food Tour is pretty affordable, and I highly recommend it for a first-time visit to Hanoi. I’d plan it during a meal time so that you don’t feel too full during the tour.
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