Monday, July 29, 2013

Hanoi Food Challenge #2 - Day Seven!

 photo HanoiFoodChallengeButton.pngThe final day of my Hanoi Food Challenge Number Two fell on a VERY rainy Sunday. Christine and I planned to ride our bikes around the lake to Daluva to try out the new menu there. The rain had died off for a while and it all looked promising as I set out, but by the time I got to our meeting point, it had started to rain again, and by the time Christine arrived a few minutes later it had increased enough that I was already considering other options. We decided to soldier on, but a few minutes down the road, it started to rain harder, and harder, and harder, until I just said nope. Not worth it. By the time we got there I would've been drenched and miserable, and I just didn't want to have lunch like that! I rode the few minutes back home, arriving here dripping wet and still hungry. 

After I dried off I attempted to order in, feeling horrendously bad about someone having to ride a motorbike through the rain to deliver to me, but the restaurant rejected my order because they didn't have one of the dishes I'd asked for. 

At this point, finally, the rain eased up again and I was still hungry with no prospect of food coming so I put my very soggy sandals back on and headed out to this Japanese Okonomiyaki place off Ngoc Ha that I've walked by several times and always wondered about. It's also on Nonna Chong's street food map of Hanoi, which you should definitely check out!

You may remember that I'm not much of a Japanese food connoisseur, so of course I had never had okonomiyaki before. In fact, I had no idea what this place would actually serve until earlier this week when a friend mentioned that she loves okonomiyaki, and explained to me what it was. Then I put two and two together and decided I had to try this!

This place is cute, with a little upstairs room that overlooks a small lake where they're building a temple.

There's more than okonomiyaki on the menu, with sushi and rice bowls also featuring! I had no idea what to order, but since I'd come for the pancake, I decided on the bánh xèo Osaka, since it seemed to be the classic one, and added on cheese from the list of toppings.

There's another side to this with all the sushi.

I'm not actually sure that I liked this. From one bite to the next I went back and forth between finding it delicious and disgusting. I think it was the chewy cheesy bits and the meat that I liked, but could've done without all the mayonnaise.

For 50,000 dong this is worth another try, or at least I'll go to the place and try something else. The menu had the word Aozora on it, and looked quite similar to the one at Sushi Aozora from my first Hanoi Food Challenge, so maybe it's part of the same company.

On my way home I had to stop for cake. Well, I didn't have to, but this Fresh Garden store just opened up the road from me. While I'm not a fan of Asian bakeries in general (there's a reason I make my own cakes!) and this is just a chain that's all over Hanoi, I've never actually been in a Fresh Garden store so I felt like it was my duty to try it.

 After I'd examined all the cakes I decided on this nice chocolatey, perhaps a bit Black Foresty looking one.

Then the girl told me that it was buy one, get one free. I really only wanted one, but I'm never one to say no to cake. So I got another, different one. Two pieces of cake for 25,000 dong. 

I ate the chocolate one, and it was ok but as I would have expected, it was a bit dry and the frosting was a bit plasticky tasting. A girl can only eat so much cake in a day, so the other one is still sitting in my fridge!

A couple of weeks ago I met a guy who lives very near me, down lane 173 off Hoang Hoa Tham. He asked me if I ever eat at Cutisun, the steak restaurant down the lane just across from that. I told him there was no restaurant down there, but he insisted. Well, he was right! I had no idea! I must have walked past this place hundreds of times, and never saw it. How is this possible?

I'd seen this sign before, up above the buildings, but for some reason had never figured out that it meant food! I think I never saw the restaurant because I most often walk past this lane going the other way, and mostly on the other side of the street, so it would've always been either at my back and/or across all the traffic.

Cutisun is super cute both inside and out!

Cute birdy placemat at Cutisun.

They had steaks on the menu for 65,000 dong, with either black pepper, bbq, or cheese sauce. There was also Shaking Beef, venison, and lamb! These all come with a few fries and a very small salad, and bread. The portions are not big, but for the price, what can you say?

Christine had the Shaking Beef and I couldn't resist trying the lamb. The waiter even asked us how we wanted it cooked! 

Shaking Beef (no sauce, just quite tasty, well-cooked beef!)

The salad had purple dressing on it, and we couldn't figure out what it was.

Lamb with BBQ sauce.

Lovely warm fresh bread.

Christine's was delicious. My lamb didn't taste much like lamb, but maybe that's because it was drowned in a very overpowering barbecue sauce. It was still tasty enough, after I scraped off most of the sauce. Next time I would ask for that on the side instead.

Because the portions were on the small side, we then had to have dessert!

Christine had the crème brûlée, which had the proper crunchy top, and she said was tasty but perhaps a bit more on the eggy side than the creamy side.

I had the mousse cake with chocolate syrup, which was almost more cheesecakey than moussey. Next time I'll try the passion fruit syrup instead.

Considering the price and that this is only a 5 minute walk from home, I'll definitely be back!

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