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
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!
Vietnam is the country I traveled to the most times thanks to my previous job, and while I don’t miss that role too much, one thing that I’ve always missed was some awesome Vietnamese cuisine, which seems to be living in Thai food’s shadow when it comes to offerings from South East Asia.
Over the last few years though, it has starting to make headrooms, perhaps in parallel of the country’s economic expansion, definitely a good thing for those of us who loves variety.
Pho Vietz at Atria Shopping Gallery, almost always packed
One of the latest Vietnamese restaurant that is fast gaining popularity is Pho Vietz at Atria (and now also at Empire Mall Subang). The place is almost perpetually packed, and it’s not difficult to see why, they serve pretty good food in a modern and comfortable setting while being reasonable in price.
Most importantly, it is also one of the very few proper Vietnamese restaurant that offers pork.
traditional spring role, baguette, banh mi
The menu is pretty extensive, there’s snacks such as spring roles, banh mi (baguette), several types of pho, vermicelli, ho fun, and different rice plates with curry, pork/beef stew, and clay pot dishes.
We’ve been to the place twice and tried several of their dishes. The prawn role (RM 8.50) was decent but I found the skin a bit too tough for my liking.
Banh Mi, or baguette (RM 9.90 or 10.90) with pork was an absolute treat with really crispy exterior and soft, airy bread within. It is like Subway but twice as good, especially if you love the mixture of yummy pork and those slightly sweetish sauce with plenty of vegetable. You can also have the baguette separately to go with beef stew (RM 17.90).
pho, stew beef with baguette, spring role with vermicelli
The standard pho (RM 17.90) here had a good soup base and pretty fresh, delicious slices of beef. We asked for more basil and bean sprouts and the restaurant gladly supplied a full plate of greens. That being said, I wished they had beef tendon though.
For those who wants even more greens, the Vietnamese Spring Role Vermicelli (RM 14.90) will not disappoint. There’s basil, mint, cucumber, carrot, bean sprout, and all sorts of healthy bits in the bowl.
caramel sliced pork belly with rice, KY, Haze, Johnson
On my second visit, I had the Caramel Sliced Pork Belly with Rice (RM 19.90) which quickly turned out to be one of my favorites. The “3 layer” belly was properly marinated and perfectly cooked, it was rather strong tasting so finishing the whole bowl of rice is a definite plus. If you’re a pork lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this.
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food, this is definitely a decent hang-out, just don’t go there during peak lunch/dinner hours and expect to have your food served quickly (or get a table immediately for that matter).
Ampang Park is said to be the oldest shopping mall of such set up in the country. First opened its door in 1973, this place has been in existence since our current Prime Minister’s father was in office as the Prime Minster.
Recently, my office moved to Intermark, which is located just right across the road from Ampang Park, so naturally I went to check out some of the lunch options at this place since the two buildings are connected by a skybridge.
food court at Ampang Park, the oldest shopping mall in Malaysia
As it turns out, the oldest mall also has one of the oldest food courts at the top floor. There are a variety of hawker stalls at the area, but two that caught my eyes were the Korean and the Vietnamese food outlets.
Both of these places are pork free, and offers exceptional value.
Vietnamese beef, chicken or fish noodle at RM 5.00 to RM 6.00
The Vietnamese dishes are typically made from the same soup base, you can get beef noodle, beef stew noodle, beef ball noodle, chicken noodle, and like the example above, fish noodle for the price of RM 4.50 to RM 6.00.
There’s mint leaves, fish sauce, and a soup base that’s undoubtedly Vietnamese, but don’t expect great cut of beef or beef tendons in them. A pair of spring rolls here goes for RM 2.50 and they are rather decent too.
The Vietnamese lady who operate this place doesn’t speak much English, but can converse in Malay, and of course in Vietnamese.
kimchi soup ramen for RM 7.00
If you fancy some cheap Korean food, just look at the busiest stall in this food court.
The menu here includes Korean glass noodle with soup (RM 6.50), seafood noodle soup (RM 6.50), mixed vegetable rice (RM 6.50), kimchi rice roll (RM 6.50), bibimbap (RM 7), kimchi pancake (RM 6.50), kimchi soup rice (RM 7), kimchi fried rice (RM 6.50), and more.
Most of these dishes come with side dishes that includes kimchi, vegetable, bean sprout, and an omelette lookalike thingy.
the ramen noodle comes with a side dish of 4 too
My favourite dishes from the Korean food stall is the kimchi ramen noodle that also comes with side dishes that goes for RM 7. The soup isn’t very intense, but for the price you can’t really ask for more. There’s plenty of kimchi and overall taste is rather decent.
The only complain I have is that the portion is perhaps overly huge though.
If you work or happen to around the area and want something cheap and decent for lunch, here’s a food court to check out.
Address: Ampang Park Food Court Level 2 Ampang Park Shopping Centre Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.16054, 101.71947 Hours: weekday lunch