Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hanoi Food Challenge - Days 1&2

Today is day 4 of my Hanoi Food Challenge, and it's time to report on some of what I've eaten!

 photo HanoiFoodChallengeButton.pngThe challenge started on Sunday at lunchtime (I often only eat two meals on weekend days, due to sleeping very late!) when I went to Buon Dua Le Cafe in Hanoi's Old Quarter. I chose it because it had come up on the New Hanoian website and had several good reviews, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's down a relatively quiet side street very close to Hoan Kiem lake, and the dining room is on the second floor with a small balcony overlooking the street. I sat there, watching vendors go by selling everything from plastic goods to basketry to conical hats to bananas and coconut candy, while tourists meandered down the street looking somewhat confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The view from Buon Dua Le's balcony.

I ordered the falafel and a mango smoothie. The falafel came and was small, and actually kind of disappointing. The chickpea patties themselves were ok but strange in a way I can't quite describe, and the salad underneath had actually had salad dressing put on it first, which didn't really belong in a falafel. The tzatziki sauce came on the side, but aside from being very garlicky, also just tasted quite a lot like cucumber salad dressing rather than tzatziki sauce. All in all, it was ok, but if I want a falafel wrap, I'll order the one from The Cart before I go back to Buon Dua Le for one.

Falafel at Buon Dua Le Cafe

I finished my falafel and waited at least 5 more minutes before my smoothie actually arrived at my table. They didn't seem particularly busy, so I don't know if they had to go out and buy the mangoes or what but it took a long time! At least it was tasty, but they put chocolate syrup in it, which really wasn't necessary. (I'd wanted to try the avocado, mango and chocolate smoothie, but they were out of avocadoes, which maybe is why they added the chocolate. But I don't know, maybe they always put chocolate in their mango smoothies! So overall, Buon Dua Le Cafe was ok but there are other places I'd choose to go first.

Mango and chocolate smoothie
For dinner I confess I ate at home, but I'd decided early on that the rules would have to include ordering in, but from places that I haven't eaten at before. Thus I ordered from Khazaana, an Indian restaurant I'd heard good things about.

I ordered chicken shabnam (chicken and mushrooms in a tomato and onion gravy), garlic naan, and papadom to start. It was all as tasty as anyone could ask for and I think one day I'll have to go to the actual restaurant to eat!

Chicken shabna from Khazaana
Mmmmm papadom

Garlic naan

On Monday at lunchtime I failed. Friends were going to my favourite Korean restaurant near work and I just couldn't say no! One day I'll do a post about that to keep you all satisfied.

 For dinner I was at home and didn't want to go far so I did a quick search with my New Hanoian app, which gives distances, and came up with Sushi Aozora, which turns out to be less than a 10 minute walk from home! If you read my last post where I introduced this whole idea, you'll know that I don't normally go out for sushi on my own, but the alternative was probably going to be a bowl of pho, and that just didn't appeal at the time so off I went!

I was greeted with big smiles and although there was a counter downstairs where one person could sit, instead I was ushered upstairs to the dining room.

The menu seemed pretty extensive, and I didn't know what to order so I got the "Sakura" set which said it was "For woman's portion" and cost 99,000 dong (roughly $5). For that I got a plate with about 12 pieces of sushi/sashimi, miso soup, ginger/wasabi, and a bit of dragon fruit.

Then, after I'd eaten some of that, they also brought me this steamed egg dish which was on the menu as "Steamed egg hotchpotch".

This was all really tasty and for someone who isn't the biggest fan of Japanese food, I sure cleaned my plate! I'll be back to this place for sure!

More of my Hanoi Food Challenge will be posted later this week, so come visit again soon!

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