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
Good old fashion beef noodle is one of the must-try dishes in Macao or Hong Kong, and if you’re at Taipa area in Macao (where all the fancy big new casinos are), Chi Kei Ngao Chap is perhaps one of those places to check out.
Chi Kei Ngao Chap, Broadway Macao
Chi Kei is located at Broadway Food Street, a small street with some 40 different eateries across the road from Galaxy Macao, which itself is a huge establishment with way too many casinos & luxury hotels right next to The Venetian. Do use the overhead pedestrian walkway as the main road is a bit tricky to navigate on foot, not to mention illegal.
Chi Kei Ngao Chap has a fairly simple set up with a small tables both inside and outside the restaurants. Of course, the seating outside was perfect during the breezy late autumn afternoon when we were there.
beef offal with noodle
We tried their beef noodle with offal (45 MOP) that came with a generous serving of various yummy parts perfectly cooked to a smooth and soft texture. The turnip based soup also gave it that natural sweetness which I thought was pretty good as well.
Additionally, they also serve beef offal hotpot (168 MOP) fit for a small party, with additional side orders you can add as well (check menu below).
look at those tripe and beef tendon
The similar version of beef noodle in Malaysia would be the one at Pudu’s Yung Kee.
Here’s another place to go if you long for some good old fashion proper cafe or as we would call it … “Western” food while at Taipa, the artificial, mostly casino filled island of Macao – the restaurant by the name of Common Table.
Common Table, Macao
Common Table is one of the more spacious cafes you can find in Macao, partly because it is located in the newer part of the country on Taipa. The interior decor is a mix of industrial cement walls with tasteful wooden furniture.
The menu here is pretty extensive (find the full menu below)
Starting off with breakfast that’s served from 8 am to 5 pm, you’ll find French toast, egg benedict, various type of walnut toasts, scramble eggs, muesli, or waffles. Prices are from 48 to 78 MOP.
Taipa Salad, Forest Mushroom Risotto, Latte
For those who likes it green, they have four different salads on the menu at 78 or 88 MOP. We tried the Taipa Salad with Avocado and Balsamic Vinaigrette (88 MOP), it came with generous amount of greens and half an avocado with really thick vinaigrette which I thought was quite nice.
If you are hungry for a proper meal instead, they do serve some proper Italian dishes, with several choices of pasta, risotto, and even ox tongue. I tried the Forest Mushroom Risotto (88 MOP) from the recommendation of the waitress and thought it was quite a competent dish. The rice was cooked al dante and properly coated with butter/cheese. Rich and satisfying.
Forest Mushroom Risotto
As for drinks, Common Table serves the usual espresso based caffeinated drinks, as well as a good selection of organic blend full-leaf tea. If those aren’t your cup of.. tea, there’s always lemon soda, juices, or even fresh milk.
When in Macao or Hong Kong, one of the meals you shouldn’t leave out is dimsum. After all, every other dimsum places back in Malaysia called themselves some “XX Hong Kong dimsum”, wait, they don’t call it Macao dimsum… well anyway!
Long Wah Tea House, Macao
Long Wah Tea House is one of the more established dim sum restaurants in Macao, the restaurant is located in a corner shop on the first floor at the Northern side of the peninsular, pretty close to China border. Unlike most restaurants in Macao, this one actually has decent space and not overly crammed.
The modus operandi here is self-served. You start off by choosing the type of tea you want for the morning from some 8 different varieties, then help yourself in picking up the dimsum of your choice at the dimsum steamer by one side of the wall.
There were also pots of flower by the balcony, giving it a very classic, relaxing ambiance.
beef tripe, char siu pao, steamed pork ribs
As we reached there pretty late at around 1 pm at the tail end of their business hour, we only had a few dishes to pick from – the char siu pao, beef tripe, and steamed pork ribs.
The dimsum were on point, with the tripe deliciously soft and flavorful and the ribs properly prepared. The char siu pao though, could use abit more char siu, but they were still pretty good.
choose your favorite tea
Well, after having a meal here, there’s a pretty neat temple about 6-7 minutes walk up north. Enjoy!
Address: Long Wah Tea House 3 R. Norte do Mercado Alm. Lacerda, Macau GPS: 22.205734, 113.545040 Hours: 7 am to 2 pm
My traveling buddy while at Macao is someone whose diet consists of a heavy dosage of avocado, so after a great many days of subjecting herself to the local diet which has none of this “butter fruit” (as locals call it), we embarked in a mission to find one.
Which is how I ended up at Cafe TOFF.
TOFF is situated just a stone’s throw away from Lou Lim Ioc Garden, a public garden with a beautiful lotus lake that’s worthy of visit. If you’re there and have visited enough churches, why not?
The restaurant, like many other in Macau, is pretty diminutive in size, capable of serving perhaps two dozen customers snugly at any one time. Lucky for us, it was quite empty at 1pm or so on a Monday.
cozy interior inside TOFF
The menu though, is rather comprehensive (see below). They have a decent selection of espresso based coffee from latte, long black, to mocha, and even Marnier mocha, which comes with alcohol. Each cup costs between 28 to 50 MOP.
There’s also a selection of tea if that’s what you fancy.
breakfasts with coffee
As for food, there’s a dozen different types of salad and sandwiches, some with interesting ingredients like parma ham, squid and shrimp, Okinawa pork slices, or even shrimps and avocado. They’re priced between 50 to 68 MOP.
For our brunch, we went with the Big Breakfast (118 MOP) and Toff Veggie Breakfast (108 MOP), each comes with a black coffee or latte, and a selection of different ingredients to choose from.
TOFF Veggie Breakfast & TOFF All Day Breakfast
Overall the food were pretty competent, and coffee did tastes like any good coffee would. It is a Western breakfast that would make it pretty much anywhere, except when it’s in Macau, you do pay Macau prices. Cute place though, certainly would not mind visiting again