One of the more improbable thing I heard about Hanoi (or Vietnam in general) while doing research about the place prior to visiting was this “free food tour” thingy, cos you know, in my mind, how can anything truly be free?
HanoiKids free food tour at Hanoi
Well, as it turns out, there is such thing. The many different “clubs” that offers free food tour operates under a similar motto – in exchange for their service, the tour guides, usually university students, get to practice their conversational English, and all we needed to do is to pay for the meals.
Our experience at Hanoi was provided by HanoiKids, we booked the service online through their website, and sure enough on the evening of our appointment date, our guides – Mint & Mok, showed up at the hotel lobby as promised.
Both these girls are students from Foreign Trade University located just a few kilometers away from here. In fact, they didn’t even know each other prior to this engagement, which I thought was a pretty interesting arrangement.
first meal – herbal chicken noodle
Our first destination was herbal chicken noodle, or My Ga Tan. This is not entirely too different from our version of herbal chicken mee suah, but with darker broth that’s almost half way to bak kut teh taste, and “instant” noodle instead of mee suah. The chicken was rather tasty and really soft, there’s also a side of salt & chili padi should you want to kick it up a notch.
Address: Mỳ Gà Tần 24 Hàng Bồ, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
dry pho with steamed chicken
Next up was none other than the most famous dish in Vietnam – pho. In Hanoi this is usually served with chicken instead of beef, and the place we were brought to – Pho Ga Khanh Beo, has the more unique dry version.
The chicken was again very soft, with the overall flavor here more subtle than the beef version in Ho Chi Minh City, but does make for a good comfort meal as well. This isn’t entirely unlike dry version of kuih teow soup in Penang, but with more vege and nuts.
Address: Phở Gà Khánh Béo 22 Hàng Hòm, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam Hours: 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm
Grilled quail eggs at Nguyen Quang Bich Street
Moving on from those noodle dishes, we had this traditional street food that’s made of 3-4 quail eggs cooked with cheese, meat floss, fried shallots, green onion, sausage etc and served with tamarind sauce. It does take quite a bit for the lady to “grill” those tiny plates up but what you get at the end was quite a unique taste and experience unlike any other, now if they can just serve this at hotel breakfast egg station, my life would be complete.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and for this purpose we were brought to this place by the name of Hoa Beo for a spot of dessert. We ended up having yogurt, fruit jelly, and even mixed fruits with condensed milk. While they aren’t exactly very sophisticated, it was a good sweet note to this rather awesome free food tour.
Thank you Mint & Moc for the wonderful hospitality. Do check out HanoiKids if your’e heading to Hanoi.
Address: Hoa Béo 17 Tố Tịch Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
When it comes to Vietnamese food, pho usually gets all the glory, and to be fair, before I stepped foot on Hanoi, I too did not know the existence of this arguably superior Vietnamese dish – Bun Cha.
Bun Cha Dac Kim, Hanoi
For those who aren’t familiar, bún chả ( is a dish consists of grilled pork with rice vermicelli, bún stands rice vermicelli, and chả is pork.
My first taste of this wonderful dish came at Bun Cha Dac Kim in Hanoi, a rather famous joint for this dish and coincidentally situated near where we stay at Ancient Lane Hotel (pretty decent room and situated right at the morning market)
bun cha comes with plenty of vegetables
At this place, bun cha comes with freshly grilled pork and ground pork soaked in the dipping sauce (or broth) which is made of fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar. The vermicelli is served separately on a plate, and of course there’s plenty of herbs & raw vegetable, as well as those yummy spring roll with crab filling.
You can eat this dish by dipping the vermicelli in those broth and then mix with the pork & vegetable, or alternatively, wrap it the Korean bbq style, either way is not wrong.
mom loves the accompanying spring roll, so did I
The version at Bun Cha Dac Kim was really good, especially with those super spicy chili padi that they have too. We ordered 2 portions for the three of us and that turned out to be plenty enough. If you find yourself at Hanoi, do make sure to treat yourself with Bun Cha!
When it comes to places to wind down and have a glass of alcoholic beverages or two, we are certainly spoiled for choices in Klang Valley. However, if you are looking for a comfortable spot with a good selection of wine and proper food, suddenly there aren’t many choices anymore. For those around Kuchai Lama area, however, there’s C Chateau Cafe and Wine Bar.
C Chateau wine bar at Kuchai Lama
C Chateau Wine Bar is situated at the row of shops facing Dynasty Garden Condominium at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park, with usually a better parking situation compared to the rest of the commercial area.
selection of wine at C Chateau wine bar
Inside, the restaurant is tastefully decorated and carries a good selection of wine both from old and new worlds at a reasonable price point. Additionally, there is also an in-house bartender who shakes up your favorite cocktails for those who prefer your drink to be a little fancier. This is however, not a yumseng beer place.
On Saturdays, there will also be a live band singing at a small stage set up by the side of the restaurant, giving the place that extra soothing ambiance.
white, red wine, butterfly cocktail, gin & tonic
For our visit, we tried a glass of their red & white wine as well as a butterfly cocktail and a classic gin & tonic, both concocted up by the friendly bartender, a friend whom I’ve known since before the turn of the millennium via this little old computer program called IRC that some of you old farts might remember.
Interestingly though we only manage to meet up in real life earlier this year, and yes I can vouch for her cocktail making skills.
iberico short ribs, baked portobello mushroom
While drinks and mood are pretty good at C Chateau, what about food?
Well, for that they have a relatively small but sufficient menu created by a young chef who has a pretty creative touch in his dishes.
We sampled four different dishes for the two of us, starting with the Fantastic Iberian, slow Iberico short ribs with special spices rub, and burnt lime. The dish was well cooked with meat easily peeled off the bone, while just a tad salty and strongly seasoned if you eat it as it, it was perfect to go with wine for sure.
New Zealand lamb rack, Vietnamese spring roll tempura
Another meat dish we had was Rack and Ruin – or pan seared New Zealand lamb rack served with infused Chinese wine risotto. I thought the risotto was rather interesting, utilizing Chinese wine to add a different dimension to the rice that was prepared al-dente style. It was quite a unique taste that I find myself gravitates towards.
Our favorite though was the Vietnamese Spring Roll Tempura, a mix of sweet corn with spring roll ingredients and a prawn tempura wrapped in Vietnamese spring roll sheet resulted in an explosion of freshness and crunchy delight. You should absolutely try this.
wine, dinner, and dessert of homemade cheese cake
Last but not least, Bello Mello, or baked portobello with tomato salsa and pickled onion, should satisfy anyone who loves mushroom.
While they don’t exactly have a proper dessert menu, the homemade cheesecake we had at C Chateau was quite delightful.
Overall this is certainly a competent restaurant and a wine bar with pretty good ambiance worthy of checking out, especially for those who wants to have a relaxing evening enjoying some tasteful alcohol without hearing the constant “YUM SENG” from your neighboring tables.
RA number of weeks ago I asked a friend who stayed at Taman Desa what is her favorite restaurants at the area, and Apple Samgyupsal was what she told me. I had meant to give it a visit but for one reason or the other did not manage to make it.
Fast forward a few weeks later, I got an invitation to do a review on their latest branch – Apple Samgyupsal at Jaya One, perfect.
Apple Samgyupsal Korean Restaurant at Jaya One
Located between Jaya One opposite the main entrance of The School, this is actually the biggest outlet of Apple Samgyupsal. Seating arrangement is semi-alfresco and in my opinion, perfectly suited for Korean BBQ restaurant.
The formula at Apple Samgyupsal is quite simple – you choose a set from the menu (available below), and it’ll come with unlimited side dishes and ramyeon (Korean instant noodle, for Apple Sharing Set & Apple King Set).
first, some side dishes and kimchi
The set starts with Apple Platter (RM 88) that comes with 120g Apple Samgyupsal (pork belly), 120g Apple Moksal (pork neck), Apple Hanjungsal (pork jowl). The meat is accompanied by apple wraps, tteok (rice cake), home made sauce, and apple salad.
There’s also BBQ Sharing Set (RM 168) for 3-4 pax and Apple Jumbo Set (RM 378) that’s good for 8 pax.
the various type of meat served, including my favorites – pork ribs
For the visit, we got to sample the Apple King Set which includes the best of everything, as our host explained. Other than the three cuts of meat mentioned above (Samgyupsal, Moksal, and Hanjungsal), there’s also the homemade sausage as well as Wang Galbi (King Ribs).
As the name suggests, the meat is marinated with apple sauce, then smoked and pre-baked before going on to the grill on the table at the restaurant. I was explained that this helps seal in the flavor and juice to ensure that the meat does not get too dry from the BBQ process.
apple marinated pork served with apple slices or vege
The BBQ is tended by the server who carefully ensure that they’re cooked perfectly and cut into serving size where you can then eat it with traditional lettuce or more interestingly, apple wraps.
The taste is rather unique and I thought sweetness from fresh apple does add an extra dimension to the experience.
Of all the cuts, my favorite has got to be their signature Apple Samgyupsal and Wang Galbi. Gotta love those fat layer and ribs.
joomuk bap and ramyeon
For carbs, we also tried their joomuk bap (RM 25), a rice ball dish that is loaded with plenty of seaweed. Something that I thought would make for very good on-the-go breakfast.
The unlimited ramyeon is also cooked on the spot with a little pot and stove so you can have it just the way you like them to be. They’re also not overly spicy, fortunately.
makgeolli with apple juice
As for drink, other than tea, we also had a go at the makgeolli (RM 28) that’s blended with extra fresh apple juice. It was quite sweet with the infusion of apple juice, and I thought tasted a little bit like a good cocktail that’s not overly alcoholic. It was just perfect for the afternoon.
Overall it was a great experience and definitely a restaurant that I would visit again.
On the 15th of December, I was invited to a tea appreciation day hosted by Dilmah Tea at Sheraton PJ, and little did I know that the date coincide with International Tea Day, a day that has been celebrated since 2005 in tea producing countries.
Dilmah Tea Appreciation at Sheraton PJ
For the Tea Appreciation session, Dilmah brought in Sensory Evaluation consultant and Oenologist Edwin Soon to share with us the origin of tea and the science of flavors behind it.
Oenologist Edwin Soon explaining the history of tea
To be perfectly honest, I did not know that the different types of tea – Black, Green, Oolong, and White tea were all made from the same Camellia sinensis plant. The difference is in how the tea leaves are cured.
Basically they are as follow:
White: wilted and unoxidized;
Green: unwilted and unoxidized;
Oolong: wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized;
Black: wilted, sometimes crushed, and fully oxidized
Dilmah Tea and food pairing
Well, there are indeed other plants that we make tea from, but those will be in the category of herbal tea or flower tea, proper tea all from the same species of plant.
Additionally, tea plants at different elevation and climate will also produce leave that different flavors, with many high quality tea plants being cultivated up to 1,500 m above sea level.
who doesn’t love a proper Hi Tea?
For the afternoon tea pairing session, we started off with lamb curry puffs paired with Dilmah The Original Earl Grey, most quintessential British tea in contrast to the local, slightly spicy flavor.
Then it was salmon maki roll with Green Tea Jasmine Flower, a fitting companion many of us are familiar with. We then also had a Hi-tea set with Ratatouille turnovers, spinach and cheese quiche, and smoked salmon canapes.
Miss World Malaysia Thanuja Ananthan was sharing the same table
For sweets, we had pandan sweet pancakes with corn custard, together with Pure Chamomile Flowers, a tea that does not have any caffeine and perfect for late night. We then finished off with chocolate brownie paired with Moroccan Mint Green Tea.
Overall, it was a lovely afternoon well spent, and we (with Sharon & Wilson) got to share the same table as former Miss World Malaysia Thanuja Ananthan (did not find out who she was until more than half way through), lovely person with energetic personality!
This was also the second time I attended a Dilmah event, first being way back in 2013!