NEWS: In the next three months, we will not be available to conduct tours at the following times:

August 22-October 1

The food available in Hanoi's narrow alleys and tree-lined boulevards is just as much a part of the city as its lakes and old world architecture. In fact, all of these elements combine with the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people to produce a lively culinary scene that is both diverse and confronting.

Over the past ten years, 'the god' (Van Cong Tu, author of the blog 'Vietnamese God') and myself (Mark Lowerson, otherwise known as 'Sticky' in the pages of this blog) have been traversing the streets of Vietnam's capital, as well as cutting a wider arc through other regions of Vietnam and beyond, wolfing down between us virtually everything on offer.

Tu is an accredited tour guide with more than 15 years experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He is an expert on the cuisine of the south-central coast, having grown up in Nha Trang and frequent visits to Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island make him very well-versed in what people are feeding their faces with in the south, too. But Hanoi is where he dwells and its chaotic web of lanes and alleys are where he eats most. Tu knows the market vendors and they like him.

Mark has been resident in Hanoi since January 2002, eating on the streets here from day one. The blog 'Stickyrice' is one of the longest running foodblogs, with the first post dated May 2005. Named in The Times Online's 50 Best Foodblogs in 2009 (at #22), 'Stickyrice' has been featured on 'Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie' and as part of SBS's Featured Foodie series.

We specialise in Vietnam's streetfood and wet markets and have recently designed a series of itineraries for travellers and food enthusiaists. These tours have been carefully planned to give visitors to Vietnam an authentic taste of a country very attuned to the rhythms of food through the day and through the seasons. Together, we visit the street stalls and markets, sampling the produce and eating from their dishes and bowls, as well as cooking with the ingredients at home.
Our tours range from a one hour market familiarisation to a full-day eat-a-thon. The most popular tour is the 3 hour (9am-12pm) morning tour which kicks off at Hanoi's old East Gate, and includes a typical street market walk (Tu explains food practices, strange food items, some delicacies), a visit to ceremonial cake stalls, a special French dessert, the food sections of Hanoi's main Dong Xuan market, a streetfood alley for a noodle lunch, fruit stalls and coffee at an historic old quarter cafe.

A full day (9am-3pm) itinerary for foodie tragics (including more market visits and more street snacks and drinks) is also available. For those more in tune with the evenings (5pm-8pm), we also offer a tour of snacks, beers and street noodles, followed by streetside dessert. All tours are inclusive of all food/drinks and are conducted entirely on foot after Tu meets and greets at the hotel.

Tu and Mark can also customise tours for particular interests if given sufficient advance notice. For more information and/or to book a tour, email both Tu: tuvancong2003@gmail.com and Mark: lowiemark@yahoo.com.au


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Street Food For Honeymoon

Kelly and Patrick210912 (76)

A couple of weeks ago, I led a tour for a "Just Married" couple from the US. They were not too concerned about an itinerary, just stating that they wanted me to surprise them.

DSC_0277

First off, we headed to West Lake for fish noodle soup which is a pretty standard breakfast noodle dish in Hanoi. This was followed by a morning visit to the Quan Thanh temple to explain about how Vietnam's people make offerings to the Gods and ancestors.

Cafe

At this point in the tour, coffee is generally a good idea and in Hanoi, there are quite a few choices about how you have your coffee. Sweetened condensed milk and even yoghurt are used in some coffee drinks. It's also common, because Hanoi is pretty hot most of the year, to have ice in coffee. Some of our clients worry about the ice but it is all commercially produced this days. Vietnam's hot so if you don't have ice in your drinks they won't be very refreshing.

Grape fruit seller

With caffiene in our systems, we headed to market which can be a challenging experience for westerners who are used to doing their food shopping in supermarkets. Vietnamese wet markets are a place where many processes occur, even the killing of animals like chickens, ducks, fish, even frogs. My client Patrick helped the vendor pull the skin off a frog, saying that he thought that if you are going to eat animals you should be prepared to kill them.

Bun Rieu Cha

After the market, the eating continued. We had Hanoi's most famous lunch dish Bun Cha which is served with Hanoi spring rolls. To celebrate their recent wedding, we had some beers too. And then cake...but not wedding cake. Instead, a traditional cake made from pounded rice, mung beans and sugar which is actually eaten at engagement parties in Vietnam.

Dong Xuan market

We stopped off in one of Hanoi's streets where ceremonial merchandise is sold, stuff for altars and festival occasions. In between, we took the paintings that Patrick and his wife, Kelly bought at the temple to my favorite framing place and it turned out super cheap for them.

Kelly and Patrick210912 (16)

We finished our day at Bia Hoi (draught beer) with grilled dried squid in the old quarter. I had a brilliant day with them and I guess it was a unique thing to do on a honeymoon.

13 comments:

  1. Mel & Chuck15 January 2012 08:52

    Hey Mark-- Happy New Year! Thanks to you we had a memorable Christmas eve on our super tasty street food tour with you-- and it was among the very best highlights of our trip to Vietnam. Gotta come back and try the fish soup or more bun cha!!
    all the best in 2012 & beyond
    Chuck & Mel

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  2. Thanks Chuck and Mel...all the best to you guys as well over there in Spain. Looking forward to hitting your part of the world later in the year.

    Mark

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  3. Your Street Food Tour was one of our favorite activities of our holiday. You were a fantastic guide and we loved the food! We will recommend you to all of our friends who visit Hanoi. Ou're the best!
    Gary and barb Ames

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    Replies
    1. I have another impressive website about Hanoi street food.

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  4. Weeeeeeeeww! I love street foods!! :)Would love to try this in Vietnam :-)

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  5. I went on the 3-hour Hanoi street food tour in April 2012, and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip! Tu is knowledgeable AND hilarious, making the tour educational and fun. We learned so much about food AND the Vietnamese culture. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone visiting Hanoi. It will be the best thing you do there. - Julie

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  6. If you like food, and you're in Hanoi, you have to do a tour with Tu. I did a full-day tour with Tu on June 1, my first day in Vietnam, and returned to the places we visited all week - they were amongst the VERY best I encountered in Vietnam. To boot, Tu is a totally sweet guy, fun to hang around with.

    Thanks again, Tu! Hope your eye is doing better!!
    - Jonathan Bailey

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  8. Hi I am getting to Hanoi on the 20th of feb this year and would be interested doing a food tour on the 24th or 25th feb. what are the options you have, the charges and how does one go about. also I would prefer not doing it in a big group. please send in your contact details. Regards Kwai

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  9. Great site! Please post your food tours at www.tripfeverr.com! It is website promoting local tours and travel services for free!

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  10. We went on a half day tour with Tu. Our group consisted of 4 adults and 2 toddlers in strollers. Tu was great helping us navigate the streets of Hanoi while also delighting us with fantastic food. This tour was worth every penny. Thank you for a great time in Hanoi!

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  11. Nice sharing! All the food services sound tasty. Right now I am in Yosemite with yosemite bus tours to enjoy vacations with my family. I must want to try their services in my upcoming summer tour to china.

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  12. Wow its so yummy and tasty.All the foods you shared are all my favorite,i like the prawn on the grill so tasty to eat and some drinks you mention loved it.I want to visit this to eat this fantastic food.

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