Part of the charm of visiting a new city is to try some of the local dishes, and when it comes to Hanoi, there are plenty to choose from, with one of them being Bun Oc, or snail soup.
bun oc hawker by the streets of Hanoi
While this dish may sound a little weird at first, do remember that most of us readily eats all sorts of shellfish, clams, and even escargot, which isn’t at all too different from this Vietnamese offering.
We chanced upon this Bun Oc place by the streets at Old Quarter in Hanoi (you can find quite a number of these stalls) and decided to give it a try.
The snails are cooked and extracted out from its shells before being served in a sweetish soup base that’s packed with fresh vegetable and a hint of fish sauce (what else doesn’t have fish sauce in Vietnam?)
a warm bowl of snail soup, anyone?
The dish usually comes with vermicelli to make it a meal, we opted out of the carbs since we had just completed a full meal prior. The snail has a subtle taste with texture that isn’t unlike topshell or well cooked shellfish, which was quite pleasant. I
I think I’ve just found my favorite restaurant at Kota Kinabalu for dinner, and yes, it does have seafood like any other “tai chao” places in Sabah, but no, it’s not one of your typical big seafood restaurants in North Borneo.
Of course, we’re talking about Tung Fong Seafood at Inanam.
steamed garupa, fish lips, paku pakis with sambal
For those who aren’t familiar with this area, Inanam is located about 10 km away from KK city center, and you’ll be right to say that this area is mostly frequented by only by locals, Chinese or Korean tourists can’t be found here.
The restaurant is pork free, and they have their menu hooked up on the wall ala billboard style for your convenience (see below). While carrying a variety of typical Chinese taichao dishes, the claim of fame for Tung Fong is their fish dishes.
You basically pick the type of fish/seafood you want – from garupa, green wrasse, giant garupa, sea carp, to fish lips, innards, and sea cucumber; then pair it with the preparation method of your choice – braised, onion ginger, scallion oil, rice wine, or black bean.
braised, steamed, or lips?
I’ve already been to this place three times on the past three trips to the city.
Had two different types of garupa as well as the rather interesting fish lips. The fish here are so, so, so good! Fresh, flavorful, and prepared with seasoning that doesn’t take away the natural flavor of these seafood. They’re simply addictive.
the other accompanying dishes were good too
The vegetable dish here are typical of Sabah standard, sweet, crunchy, and fresh. They also serve a side of tomato soup as standard, and these tasted pretty much like Fatt Kee’s fish noodle soup.
If you’re at Sabah, do yourself a favor and check this place out. Expect to spend some RM 30-40 per pax for some good seafood.
It was back in 2014 or 15 that I first heard about this Fushou Lou Nyonya Curry Mee in USJ, and as a major curry mee fan (of any variety), I paid obviously paid a visit and wrote about it.
Hai Keng kopitiam Fushou Lou Nyonya Curry Mee
However, USJ wasn’t known for the best traffic situation and thus I was more than happy to find out that there’s now a branch at Hai Keng kopitiam in Petaling Jaya, situated just a stone’s throw away from Digital Mall.
Nyonya Curry Mee with extras
Just like the USJ counterpart, the stall here offers a variety of different add-ons to the standard bowl of Nyonya Curry Mee, among the choices are curry chicken, lala, roast pork, squid, and even stingray.
A standard version starts at RM 6, but you can definitely make it a bit more lux by adding multiple ingredients.
roast pork? stingray? why not both?
I had mine with both roast pork and stingray (RM 9). The base was quite flavorful in itself, with the sambal adding a decent dose of hotness with a strong hint of sour note from lime which I really enjoy. Roast pork was competent, but what I really love was the stingray, though eating that with a pair of chopsticks require some skill set I did not originally have.
Give it a try if you’re tech-shopping at Digital Mall.
For night time, the Hunan Cuisine at Chu Cha Dan Fan nearby is a worthy choice.
Address: Hai Keng Restaurant 24, Jalan 14/20, Seksyen 14 Petaling Jaya Selangor GPS: 3.110338, 101.635315
Vietnam probably has the most mature coffee culture in all of South East Asia, when we were in Hanoi earlier this year, we definitely took advantage of visiting some of the more quaint cafes in this capital city.
Hanoi House Cafe, Hanoi
Our second cafe stop was probably named by someone who’s not overly imaginative, calling it Hanoi House. The first cafe was Gardenista.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
Well, it is located in Hanoi, but more specifically, right across from the beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was constructed way back in 1886 as one of the first structures built by the French colonial government. The church was closed down after Viet Minh took over North Vietnam, and wasn’t reopened until closed down until Christmas Eve of 1990, which… is already almost 30 years ago… (how time flies!)
It is open for public and for mass, and we were lucky to get in and have a peek on a Sunday morning.
Vietnamese Coffee, thick and aromatic
The cafe itself is situated on the first floor of a shop lot which also happened to have some permanent inhabitants. Interior itself smells of antiquity, while also being rather cozy. If you’re lucky, grab a seat by the balcony and you’ll have a great not-quite bird-eye’s view of this small segment of the city.
a lovely place to unwind
We had the standard hot coffee with condensed milk (32,000 vnd, equal to RM 5.70 at time of writing), and like with many other places in Hanoi, they’re thick, aromatic, and has an effect of lifting your eyelids immediately. I love it.
If you want to live a little, they serve alcohol too, but I thought it was perhaps inappropriate with mom around, and the fact that it was 11 in the morning.
Some of you may know that I’m quite a fan when it comes to bak kut teh, with some 60 different places offering this uniquely Malaysian porky dish documented on this blog to date. So when I was invited to sample the bak kut teh xiao long bao at the new Paradise Dynasty outlet located at 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara, I knew I just had to try it.
Paradise Dynasty at 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara
Well, is this bak kut teh xiao long bao legit?
The short answer is, yes. In fact, the BKT XLB is created from the collaboration with Samy & Min Bak Kut Teh from Klang, the same family that runs Ah Her, Samy & Tien, Samy & Ah Her and so forth, I’ve always been a fan of their BKT with its concentrated herbal soup that carries a hint of peppery taste.
Yeap, the BKT XLB definitely has that characteristic carried over, though perhaps in a slightly milder form. Quite interesting and definitely a welcoming new taste in the world of XLB.
Dynasty 8-Flavours Xiao Long Bao, Bak Kut Teh Xiao Long Bao
The BKT XLB is currently only available at the 163 Retail Park Paradise Dynasty, and you can’t actually buy it with money – instead, it is free of charge for you by doing the following three things:
Share a photo of the at Paradise Dynasty 163 Retail Park or the BKT XLB
Tag at least two friends
do these and you’ll get the BKT XLB for free!
Drunken Chicken, Scrambled Egg White with Fish & Dried Scallop
Well, apart from the BKT XLB, we also sampled the famous Dynasty 8-Flavours Xiao Long Bao that comes with multiple flavors with the instruction to eat in the following order – Original (white), Ginseng (green), Garlic (grey), Black Truffle (black), Cheese (yellow), Crab Roe (Orange), Foie Gras (brown), and Szechuan (red).
Quite a fancy way to consume xiao long bao, but one that is also kinda fun and interesting especially for someone who’s never experienced it. Does fill your stomach pretty good though if you have them all by yourself.
After all the XLB, we moved on to Drunken Chicken, a cold dish of steamed chicken prepared with shaoxing wine that carries a hint of herbal taste from goji berry, I loved it.
The Scrambled Egg White with Fish & Dried Scallop turned out to be a dish with a bit of a history – apparently it was created by a chef to cater to the empress’ request to have a crab dish during “off season”, so the chef used egg as the main ingredient to somehow mimic the taste of crab. I guess you gotta give it to the ancient Chinese palace kitchen when it comes to food creativity.
Prawn & Pork Dumpling with Hot Chilli Vinaigrette, Stir-fried Shredded Pork in Black Bean Sauce served with Chinese Crepes
Next up we hadPrawn & Pork Dumpling with Hot Chilli Vinaigrette, a pretty standard dumpling dish that also delivers a kick, perfect for those who likes their food spicy.
Stir-fried Shredded Pork in Black Bean Sauce served with Chinese Crepesis a dish that reminds me of peking duck with its way of eating (with Chinese crepe), but should suit those who does not like the more pungent taste of duck meat. I thought the black bean sauce gave it a rather distinctive taste profile as well.
La Mian with ‘Dan Dan’ Sauce,
Stir-fried La Mian with Shredded Pork & Black Fungus
Japanese ramen and Italian pastas are both originated from China, so if you’re someone who loves thing to be original, then perhaps proper Chinese La Mian should be something to check out.
We sampled La Mian with ‘Dan Dan’ Sauce as well as Stir-fried La Mian with Shredded Pork & Black Fungu, depending on your preference in having it soupy or fried, neither would disappoint. These dishes are quite strong tasting and full of flavor. I’ll probably recommend sharing due to the portion tho, and save some space for XLB and other dishes.
Stir-fried French Bean with Minced Pork,
Dynasty Crispy Chicken, Pan-fried Pumpkin Pastry
Dynasty Crispy Chicken is a simple, straight forward Chinese style fried chicken dish that is usually popular with kids, and if you want some greens, the Stir-fried French Bean with Minced Pork would not be a bad option, I do quite enjoy a proper vege dish that has a bit of “wok hei”.
For dessert, we sampled Pan-fried Pumpkin Pastry, which tasted a little bit like lotus paste pancake but less sweet, and perhaps a little bit healthier?
Our Spread at Paradise Dynasty, 163 Retail Park Mont Kiara
Overall it was a pretty enjoyable session, and I am happy to see the group doing well since the first time I had a food review at their then Paradise Inn outlet at Pyramid (with a different concept).
Also happy to report that these XLB were as good as when I first tasted it all the way back in in Jan 2014 as well, it does mean that they’ve kept the standard and level of service all these years, something not every restaurant group can claim.