There are two types of travelers, the one that plans for everything including transportation, hotel, point of interests, and which restaurants (and sometimes what to eat) to dine in; then there’s the type who likes to have a bit of surprises and a sense of adventure. It’s not surprise which type is me, and luckily, my brother is pretty much the same.
pork offal soup with rice, breakfast of champions
One of those adventures brought us to this pork offal soup with rice place when we went to Bangkok over CNY with mom.
This little stall is located on Soi Sukhumvit 55, the road in which we walk by on the way from our hotel to the Thong Lo BTS Station (Bangkok Mass Transit System, not that Korean boy group thingy..)
What intrigued us was how busy the stall is, and that it is seemingly a slice of time capsule wedged in between two roles of shop houses in this increasingly modern city that is Bangkok. So we did a bit of pointing here and there and had our orders for brunch.
blood, intestine, kidney, liver, and meat
As it turns out, they serve only one dish – pork offal soup with rice, and yep, just like Klang, there are people who has rice and porky goodness as breakfast.
the stall is wedged between two buildings
The soup came with a good mix of coagulated blood, intestine, kidney, liver, and pork slices, the soup is quite flavorful if slightly too salty for my taste, there’s also generous amount of cilantro to provide some balance to those fatty bits. The chili sauce condiment accompanying the dish is rather spicy too, as you’d expect from Thailand.
It was overall a rather yummy dish and one of the best meals we had in Bangkok. For 35-40 baht per bowl, this was also one of the more affordable meals too.
there’s a coffee stall next to it too
Address: Pork Offal Soup (Opposite El Gaucho) Soi Sukhumvit 55, THONGLOR KLONGTON NUA Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand GPS: 13.730904, 100.581437
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.
My style of travel usually involves minimal planning with a few points of interests we’d visit, and pretty much winging it rest of the way. After all, it’s always more exciting to have a bit of surprises and a sense of adventure while at a foreign land, isn’t it?
Mien Luon Dong Thinh, fancy some eel?
This method of traveling was precisely how we ended up at Mien Luon Dong Thinh, we were basically walking around Hanoi looking for a lunch spot and thought whatever that they have right at the stall in this restaurant looked peculiar enough to warrant further investigation.
As it turned out, we landed on a rather notable eel restaurant! Yessss!
There are several options to choose from at this place, and luckily the menu on the wall did have English subtitle for all the half a dozen choices – vermicelli blend, fried eel, clear vermicelli soup, fried vermicelli, eel soup, and eel porridge. Each will cost between 25,000 to 60,000 vnd.
crunchy deep fried eel with porridge turned out to be rather good
We ended up trying the fried eel with vermicelli and the eel porridge. The eels were crispy and quite tasty, a very different taste from the boiled eel soup I had in Ho Chi Minh City, much easier to eat and not entirely too different from Japanese shishamo, but with sweetness of eel.
Of course, the vermicelli salad comes with fresh greens, nuts, and a healthy dose of fish sauce, as you would expect. The porridge also would make a very good comfort food on a cold day.
I’d recommend anyone with at least a mild sense of adventure to try this while at Hanoi.
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
Truth be told, beef isn’t exactly a staple in Chinese cuisine in the Northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Growing up in Penang I could probably count with one hand the number of beef serving hawker stalls there operating on the island at the time.
Luckily, when they do serve beef, it is often not disappointing. Case in point – the old beef noodle stall at Taxi Station in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
old taxi stand beef noodle, Sungai Petani, Kedah
From what I can gather, this beef specialty stall is manned by Mr Tan, who is now over 80 years old. The stall was originally started by his father in 1950, with the current location now manned by him & the brother since 1974. Chances are most of the customers were not even alive yet when the first cow is scarified for this stall.
mixed beef soup with rice, or you can have it with noodle
There main offering is beef slice, tripe, brisket, tendon, and beef ball (most often called mixed beef soup) to go with with noodle or if you’re hungry – rice. We opted for the latter when my brother brought me there for lunch some weeks back.
The old master definitely got everything all figured out, the soup is flavorful but not over powering, with the beef cooked just so and not overly done, the tendon was soft, and the garnish supporting the dish perfectly. I also enjoy their unique sambal condiment. Overall this was just a very pleasant dish to have, doubly so on a rainy day.
old school lunch, just what the doctor ordered
I recommend anyone who find themselves at Sungai Petani to give this a try, unless you don’t eat beef.
Address: Beef Noodle at Taxi Station Bangunan PKNK, 12 A, Jalan Petri, Taman Pekan Baru, 08000 Sungai Petani, Kedah GPS: 5.639290, 100.487675 Hours: 10 am to 4 pm