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A bit more on Vietnam

So I just went on a 2 week tour through Vietnam with a friend of mind who isn't of the exact same eating mindset but was willing to tag along. I followed mostly chowhound tips, being wary of most tourbook restaurants, and after two weeks have this to add:

1) DO NOT EAT AT RESTAURANTS - apart from two very notable exceptions, one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Mihn city, (Quan An Ngon - you just have to go to this place if you're in HMC. Absolutely sensational food and variety, as well as beautiful seafood.) restaurants, even restaurants suggested in chowhound and multiple other sources, just werent as good. Ever. That includes, in Hanoi, the roundly well-reviewed (and extortionate for Vietnam) Brother's Cafe, and also, in Hoi An, the equally well-reviewed Cafe des Amis. Neither were bad, per se, just not nearly as good as good street food, which is easier to spot and usually about 30 times less pricey (you can get a great full dinner of two soups for about 60 cents most of the time, and that's on the pricier side of street food.) A general exception exists to allow for those half-street-half-restaurant places (street stallish but inside) with white walls and open fronts that really are restaurants, but pretty much only for the Vietnamese.

2) You will not get sick off of street food. If you do, you'll get over it soon. I ate raw lettuce off the street with soups or sandwiches or other things maybe every other day of the trip. I even drank some tap water. Didn't even feel my stomach rumble. Eat on the street. It's perfectly safe. That said, onto the actual recommendations:

Hanoi
My hotel was in the old quarter on Hang Bo street, a short strip because many vietnamese streets there change names when they hit a new block. There were two fantastic street shops on the block. I, in the course of 5 days there, ate possibly 5 or 6 meals a day, in many different places, and I am certain these places are good even relative to other street food. There are clearly even better ones out there, but if you want pointers, these are good, and pretty near the lake. During the morning up until noonish, there is a shop right next to the Hoa Linh Hotel, look the hotel up to find it if you want, that serves a lovely Bun Cha, a sweet vinegar pork broth with pickled radish, charcoal roasted beef-chive patties and bacon, lettuce, shiso, sticky noodles, and fresh Thai bird chilli. Verrry good. On the closest corner to this shop is another stall open mid afternoon to what is very-late-night for Vietnam food (11ish to maybe 12.) This stall serves a great My Van Than, opaque yellow vermicelli, sweet pork broth, bean sprouts, fried pork wontons, peanuts, deep-fried shallots, bbq chicken, pig kidney, and shiso, with a side broth made with clear scallion, shrimp and dried baby mushroom broth swimming with mushrooms, baby scallions, fresh pork wontons and fried bread ladyfingery things for dipping. For fantasic Cha Ca, catfish fried with tumeric and dill, eaten with noodles, dill, peanuts, sprouts and basil (I'm forgetting and ingredient,) go to the restaurant (I know, but this is like a stall of sorts - only one dish in the restaurant) Cha Ca La Vang. I think most caddies know where it is. At least mine did, and he approved of the choice. There's supposed to be a great dog and snake market (they kill the snakes, sometimes cobras, for you and cook each part differently!!) just out of town over a bridge, but my fellow traveller wasn't so excited by the prospects of eating snake and dog, and I left Hanoi, and Vietnam, without having eaten either of those. Dammit.

I went to Dien Bien Phu, and because the sun was setting in town our crappy, bizarre hotel was miles out of town, and taxis are hard to find there, we went back to the hotel and had one of the worst dinners of my life there. Bad move. I here they have a great black sticky rice there. Terrifically nice people. We were the only westerners we saw, and everybody said hello. We even got invited into the houses of people who didn't speak a word of English and given tea.

Hue
I wasn't a tremendous fan of the local specialty soup, Bun Bo Hue, a very lemony (citronella, actually) soup with meatballs and a shank of some meat, amoung other ingredients. The best one I found, though, was on 11 Ly Thoung Kiet. Worth getting if you have an extra meal. The unmissable meal in Hue is in one of those indoor stall places, called Hang Me. It's on 45 Vo Thi Sau. If you've already heard about this place, note the address. It's changed recently. Wow. We got one of everything they served (5 local rice-flour-shrimp specialties), for lunch. Really great, really cheap. Not a white guy in sight. Just go there and order everything. It's not too much. It's sort of tapas.

Hoi An
Our first dinner was a late one on the beach. It was great. I don't know the place, but he took us back to see all the seafood swim before cooking us a 6 or so course seafood meal with lots of drinks served to us on lounge chairs on the beach for a total of about 20 US (expensive there, but it was pretty worth it.) I assume there are a whole bunch of like restaurants on the Cua Dai beach. We also ate at Cafe des Amis, a place now pretty famous on Chowhound, that was OK. You just tell him seafood meat or veggie, and he gives you five courses. Nice, delicate and all that, just not local, and at least for a couple courses in our meal, not as good. It's still a good reastuarant, though, so don't be terribly discouraged. We also ate, on our tourbook's encouragement, at this weird, empty place called Faifoo, which is to be avoided, even though the waitress was nice. The place across the street looked better - more popular with locals.

Saigon
QUAN AN NGON. Amazing place. Some sweet dude found all the best vendors in the city and paid them to cook there. Great seafood, loads of fantastic dishes. Great place. Really. I went there twice on my last day. There was also a nice stall on Bui Vien street (sorry for the vagueness, but you can find it) that served fantastic seafood and a mean half-formed duck embryo, if you're into that sort of thing.

Have fun. The food's great. Eat everything. Eat fruit too (try manosteen - called something like mank(r?)oot, - they're great.) And the coffee, wherever there's a Trung Nguyen sign - Vietnamese Starbucks with better but sweeter (sweetend condensed milk with STRONG drip espresso.)

Vietnam's awesome.
PS - if you're in Hoi An and want tailored clothes, DO NOT go into the market. Period. No exceptions. Market people will try to convince you otherwise. It's BS. the two places you should consider are Mr Xe (71 Nguyen Thai Hoc St - specializes in men's suits but does other stuff too, and it's worth going there just to meet him) and Bi Bi Silk (13 Phan Chu Trinh St. - most things, including gorgeous silk shirts and a nice variety of linen.) Have a great trip if you go.
-Sasha

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  1. Agree about restaurants, for the most part. But distinguish betw street food (served from a mobile stall or cart, or from baskets carried on a vendor's pole) and food served in open-air shops. The latter are just as good.

    Don't agree about getting sick. I've been sick plenty of times in Saigon and I have a cast iron stomach. Better to say - you *might* get sick, from street food OR restaurant food - but it will probably be entirely random (plenty of instances when I've been sick but my husband hasn't, and we've eaten from the same plates). And IMO the risk is worth it. Vietnam has wonderful yogurt, look for little bottles of it in markets - eaten daily, seems to help with that sort of thing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodfirst

      I feel as though I spend a ton of time explaining to my fellow travelers, after three trips to Vietnam, that you get your best meals on the street. (And, yes, I mean the street, with a boiling pot of water set up for the noodles, and the dishes being cleaned by a hose!)

      I still drool when thinking of the best bowl of noodles soup ever in all of SE Asia on "Silk Street" in the Old Quarter in Vietnam. It IS the first place I check when arriving in the city. Perfection for a mere 60 cents (and they may even be overcharging me; but I don't think so!)

      FWIW, I've never been sick in Asia (ok, there was that one time in Luang Prabang, but it was my fault; I was experimenting with fermented fish sauce!), but I'm pretty careful about the obvious things, making sure the place is crowded, water is boiling, and veg are cooked. (I am most paranoid about lettuce, btw, and will eat it in a 'restaurant' but not on the streets....) I only eat peeled fruits, too.

      I don't usually go to 'restaurants,' but found myself at Cargo Club in Hoi An in February, and thoroughly enjoyed it. And, they have lemongrass ice cream for dessert.

      Anyway, as far as being sick, there's nothing that a good dose of Cipro won't cure. I won't travel without it!

    2. Just got back from 6 months in Asia, including several weeks in Vietnam. I whole-hearteldy agree with Sasha's suggestion to eat in street stalls rather than in restaurants, and also with the restaurant recommendations. I am not usually a meat eater, but I devoured a bowl of Bun Cha on the streets of Hanoi and loved it! Also, don't forget about the ubiquitous baguette sandwiches--delicious.

      I have to add a rec. for a great restaurant in Hanoi--Highway 4. It specializes in infused rice vodka, and they do fun flights of various flavors. Try the young rice flavor. They also have a big selection of food--hot pots were great, but we especially enjoyed the make-it-yourself snakehead fish spring rolls, as well as the pre-rolled catfish spring rolls with fresh dill. Yum! There's a cozy rooftop deck where you can sit on cushions on the floor, and a good mix of locals and tourists.

      1. Where is Highway 4? Any idea where it is in relation to the Sofitel Metropole?

        1. I ate at Quan An Ngon in Hanoi (there's a branch there too), and while it was one of the better meals I had in Vietnam, it was nothing to write home about. I bet it's Southern cousin is a lot better (I did not make it to HCMC). The whole time I was in Viet Nam I couldn't wait to get back to Bangkok to eat.

          And I disagree about the street food being clean. I found the vendors to be dirty all over the North and Central regions. Much dirtier than what I'm used to in Thailand. Take a look at the preparation surfaces, cleanliness of the vendors hands & where they clean dishes, that's how I judge always. But yeah, I'm sure the food is much better tasting than the restaurants.

          The thing I enjoyed most about Viet Nam was the strange herbs I kept trying. Yum.

          I have some photos of Viet Nam, including a lot of market/food shots here:
          http://diary.00ff00.com/category/plac...

          1 Reply
          1. re: cee

            Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos! They reminded me that the other thing I loved so much in Vietnam besides the food was the people. I was enamored by the street food there and rarely set foot inside a real sit-down restaurant when I visited about 5 yrs. ago, but I hear that things are changing rapidly and that more and more restaurants are opening up. Can't wait to return...

          2. You obviously have an anti-restaurant bias in Vietnam! The one restaurant you seem to really have like is Quan An Ngon - which is a good place, but the ironic thing is that the concept of Ngon in Hanoi and HCMC is that it assembles all the good street food in one place, under one roof. My thinking is that if you're pressed for time, that's effective, but otherwise, get out on the street and find the real thing rather than the table-service version.

            There are many good restaurants in Hanoi, and HCMC. I prefer Hanoi. Highway 4 has a couple of different outlets, and there's Chim Sao, and Quan Com Pho, and (beware the service) Hanoi Garden. You can find a good collection of information, photos, recommendations, recipes etc. (including good maps, which are seriously rare) at www.savourasia.com
            Excellent stuff on Hanoi street food, restaurant recommendations, places to eat, markets, also things to do in Hanoi. Cooking classes, too! Okay enough on that.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Maelstrom

              I agree with Maelstrom - there are a lot of good restaurants in Vietnam. I was in Ho Chi Minh City for a couple of weeks last year and thoroughly enjoyed every meal there.

              I enjoyed Khaisilk's three gorgeous restaurants there: Nam Kha on Dong Khoi St, Nam Phan at Le Thanh Ton St and Au Manoir de Khai. Vietnam House on Dong Khoi St is quite good, too.

              As for food stalls, I tried Bun Rieu Cua (a rich pork & crab noodle soup dish) at Ben Thanh Market & its absolutely delicious.

              Near Cho Binh Tay (in Cho Lon/Chinatown), there's a great coffeeshop called Hong Phat which sells Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Phnom Penh-style rice noodles in pork broth) and Banh Uot (steamed flat rice noodles, topped with an assortment of Vietnamese-style ham & preserved meats).

              1. re: klyeoh

                Wow! Klyeoh, I haven't been to any of the Khai restaurants in Saigon. I will have to do that. They sound great. As for Ben Thanh market, you will not go wrong eating in there - it's one culinary discovery after the next, and the only limit is the size of your stomach. Eat well.

            2. In Hoi An, we went to the Mango Room twice for dinner - both times, it was fantastic. We also went to the Cargo Club for some much needed pastries and dessert. We had the misfortune of trying Sakura, a japanese restaurant right next door to the Mango Room and it was horrendous. Of all the great places to eat in Hoi An, we picked the one loser. I also had a great bowl of noodles at Banana Leaf - fantastic!

              1 Reply
              1. re: CChan126

                I arrived this morning from3 days in Hoi An; I will put in a recommendation for Morning Glory restaurant on the Japanese Bridge end of town. I had two good meals there. It has a connection to Cargo Club.

                Did NOT like Cafe des Amis..thought the seafood meal was pretty boring. If you do go there (Cafe des Amis) make sure to snag one of the two tables on the upstairs terrace so you can watch the action on the boat dock)

                In Hue I just had lunch at the Hang Me mentioned above; it cost me 55,000 (under $4US) for all the little wrapped things on their menu. They were quite suprised to see a tourist, but do have everything written out on their menu...except prices; I most likely paid more than normal but it was quite tasty)

              2. Thanks so much for the suggestion of Quan An Ngon - my SO and I enjoyed this place so many times. The desserts... the seafood hot pot... the grilled squid... everything was delicious! The ambience also was really remarkable. The only complaint we had was that the cold salad rolls were prepared early on in the day, so by 8 p.m., the rice paper wrapping had dried out and was pretty tough.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Yum2MyTum

                  So glad you ate there. I ADORE this place..terrific in both Saigon and Hanoi.

                  1. re: erica

                    ..and the tamarind crabs in the Saigon Ngon are one of the best dishes I have had in Vietnam! Together with steamed rice, and a "large) plate of fried morning glory (make sure to add the orange-colored sauce to the dish) this was truly a spectacular meal. Although the place was packed for Tet, service was most helpful (probably because as a single female diner I was an object of curiousity or, even, pity!) Make sure to reserve for dinner in busy season.

                    1. re: erica

                      I wonder if I saw you there since I was there for Tet too. We were there virtually every day for a while :) Once, even twice a day! Next time I'm in Vietnam, I'll make sure to get the tamarind crabs...

                      1. re: Yum2MyTum

                        I can understand why you would go twice a day. Honestly, next time I will not bother with anyplace else in Saigon.. If you saw a woman dining alone that was probably me, as I saw NO other solo diners! In any restaurant! I wish I was there at this moment..I loved Saigon!

                2. Interested to read your post as I'm going to Vietnam in less than a week. My guidebook (Rough Guide) also says that Quan An Ngon is an absolute must.

                  1. But where is QUAN AN NGON?

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: MOREKASHA

                      Quan An Ngon is a collection of street food vendors that have been brought together in an indoor/outdoor setting by an entrepreneurial genius. So you get street food but you also have wait staff with rudimentary English, menus, and actual tables. (In Hanoi most of the seating is communal, on low benches) You can wander around and watch the food being prepared and then sit down and order..

                      There is one Ngon in Saigon near Reunification Palace, and another in Hanoi north of the Opera House. They are often packed at night and both take reservations, at least reservations booked through hotels..

                      1. re: erica

                        just got back from 2 days in HCMC. didn't have a local to guide me or to translate, so i did my best by pointing. a couple of things:

                        1. the lonely planet vietnam is lifted straight from an english language travel magazine in asia, can't remember the name. or maybe it's vice versa. the magazine is more up to date, obviously.

                        2. avoid the upscale restaurants, esp lemongrass and hoi an. lemongrass was around the corner from my hotel, so i gave it a try. it's no better than the vietnamese restos you'd find in the states.

                        hoi an was a disaster. we stumbled in seeking air-con refuge from the stickiness, and because we couldn't find the other resto we were looking for (we'd already eaten pho 2x that day and wanted to try something new) they gave us set meals/prix fixe menus --they were $30 USD++! i asked for an a la carte menu, and the experience got progressively worse from there. we were sent a waiter that spoke almost no english, and then when we got the bill, he'd tacked on all kinds of stuff we hadn't ordered.

                        3. Go to Quan An Ngon (138 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa). All the cabdrivers know where it is. Its filled with both locals and tourists, and who cares, it's delicious!

                        4. Avoid the Sheraton Level 23 Bar - $11 USD for a glass of sauvignon blanc, served by waiters in cheesy yellow silk shirts, really noisy metal chairs, and rude Koreans everywhere. If you must have a drink at a hotel bar, check out Saigon Saigon at the Caravelle for a slightly less annoying experience. I think the chairs are rattan.

                        1. re: hyonion

                          Quan An Ngon place mark:

                          -----
                          Quan An Ngon
                          138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, HCMC , VN

                        2. re: erica

                          My fave dishes at Quan An Ngon the last time:
                          - Oc Buou Nhoi Thit - snails stuffed with minced pork (I coulsn't stop eating these!!);
                          - Banh uot cha lua - steamed warm rice sheets served wtih pork sausages & salad (reminds me of Chinese cheong fun);
                          - Banh Cuon Nan Thit - steamed warm rice rolls stuffed with minced pork;

                          For desserts, I liked:
                          - Che Nep Than - sweetened black sticky rice with coconut milk;
                          - Banh Khoai Mi - manioc cake
                          Also, Sinh Toi Sa Poche - sapodilla/chiku shake
                          Very convenient place to try lots of great street foods in one spot.

                          Couldn't find good steamed pork buns (Banh Bao) there though. I got some good ones at Banh Mi Minh Chau, around cnr of Hoang Dieu & Le Quoc Hung (District 3) - delicous ones at only VND3,000 each.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Have shortlisted the following for a long weekend in Saigon. Would love to hear any feedback. Prefer to stick to Vietnamese food as the real thing is hard to come by in KL:
                            Tib
                            Phu Xuan or Nam Giao
                            Pho Hoa or Pho 2000
                            Ban Xeo (street pancake place)
                            Quan An Ngon
                            Not sure if I need to include Temple Club or Mandarin?

                            1. re: KLfoodie

                              You do not need to include Temple Club. Although it is a strikingly handsome restaurant, I thought the food was half as good as at Quan An Ngon, at twice the price.

                              I did not eat at Mandarin because they would not take a booking for a solo diner. This may have been because the city was jammed before Tet last winter.

                              1. re: erica

                                Tip for eating dog in Hanoi: find a willing local to join you for the meal, to help negotiate the price. My SO and I decided to be daring and headed into a restaurant that served dog meat. It was pretty much the only thing on the menu, though it was served in a few different ways. SO ordered a small plate of dog meat with galangal slices. I was not too keen on eating dog, but I have to say, it was sensational! When the bill arrived, the price seemed extremely high. We were positive that we were getting the "special dumb tourist" price. The staff did not speak English and no prices were posted. We couldn't believe that the local (all male) clientele was willing to fork over that much money. Even the beer prices were insane. We threatened to walk out and the woman running the place was willing to come to blows over it, if necessary. We caused quite a scene, which we would never normally do. Someone intervened and in the end, we overpaid, though not as significantly as the owner would have liked. I've since heard that dog meat is more expensive because it is considered a luxury meat. I'd love to hear from other CHers who have eaten dog. What should the price have been for a plate of dogmeat (plate size: side or bread plate)? For those of you on the fence about trying it, I highly recommend it. A Vietnamese friend of mine told me that cat is pretty good too.

                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                  Sweetpea, just about every restaurant in VN serving dog, serves only dog. It's certainly not a luxury meat, but can be expensive depending on where you order it. It's a winter dish and is supposed to be eaten only during the second half of the lunar month. There's a restaurant that does a bustling lunch time business in Hanoi near the Metropole Hotel. Go a block or two towards the river. It's the busiest lunchtime place in Hanoi. Sorry I can't be more specific. The last time I took someone there (I no longer eat dog), a little over a year ago, a big plate cost about 20,000 dong and I think we overpaid.

                                  I've never seen "cat" on any menu or in any market in VN, although I have seen it in the markets in southern China. Any idea where to find it in Hanoi? I'll be back there in a week. btw, I've had other species of feline, but that was in NYC.

                                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                                    > "Even the beer prices were insane."

                                    A sign you were being ripped off. Dog meat is not cheap but beer prices should be 'standard'.

                                    I'm not sure re the 'find a willing local' advice - certainly not on a ad-hoc basic - most likely in Hanoi you'd compound the loss. Most people are not interested in dog meat.

                                    1. re: 1sweetpea

                                      I went to a place as well and was quoted 100,000 for one skewer. I offered 20,000 and was turned down. I left and came back and offer 50,000 and they took it. I went specifically for the dog meat, so I figure it was worth the $2.50 USD I paid even though it was probably not the normal price.

                                    2. re: erica

                                      I agree ... Temple Club was pretty average. Without wanting to sound snobby, I've stopped taking Lonely Planet restaurant recommendations seriously ...

                                    3. re: KLfoodie

                                      I can vouch for Mandarin. I went there with my wife on Valentine's day last year, and thought the food was superb. Expensive for Vietnam (~£60-£80 GBP, if I recall correctly), but I'm happy to pay that once in a while for a really good meal.

                                      It was a set menu, but I think that's just because it was Valentine's day. The food was all beatifully presented, and the balance of heat , flavour and textures was excellent. There ws lobster, giant prawns, fresh spring rolls and a lot more that I don't recall. Anyway, I recommend it :o)

                                      1. re: GordonS

                                        Place mark for Mandarin:

                                        -----
                                        Mandarin
                                        11A Ngo Van Nam, Ho Chi Minh City, HCMC , VN

                              2. I spent February travelling around SE Asia including a couple of weeks in Vietnam. I'd have to agree that it seems unless you have some serious local knowledge about where to go, restaurants generally are pretty so-so. Street food is definitely the way to go.

                                I will put in one recommendation for Saigon though: Bunta. I was taken there by the Vietnamese family who owned the hotel I was staying at (on Bui Vien, incidentally -- I think I know the seafood stall you're talking about, as I had the duck embryo egg there one night). They only serve noodles, as the name implies. It's really good. Very reasonable prices, despite the upmarket fit-out.

                                1. two brief hanoi reviews:

                                  Quan An Ngon. Went twice. Food was good across the board, though nothing wowed me. Extremely popular (with Vietnamese more than Westerners). Good service, spacious, lively atmosphere. My favorite dishes here were the steamed mudfish with rice paper rolls and the barbecued squid.

                                  Green Tangerine. Said to be French-Vietnamese fusion. Frequently touted as the best restaurant in Hanoi. The prices were very high by Vietnamese standards but slightly low by Western standards. I found the food mediocre across the board. Four to five times as expensive as Quan an Ngon and nowhere near as good. Service was good, however.

                                  1. Vietnam Summary . . .

                                    I just returned from 3 weeks in vietnam, and have the following updates/comments, mostly to Sasha's post above, but also to some others on this board. We ate mostly at street vendors/foodstalls, and I ate everything I was served, including ice, except on a couple of occasions when i got a bad vibe from something - no stomach issues.

                                    1. Hanoi - the post at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/646254 recommends Bun Cha Dac Kim - highly recommended, very delicious and dirt cheap - huge portions of this local specialty. Also, a delicious morning specialty seems to be fried glutinous rice cake squares (friend in front of you and then cut up and covered in sauce) served by ladies carrying a stove and plates on a wooden bar over their shoulders in the Hanoi morning streets - heavenly, we spent the rest of our trip looking to repeat the experience without success. We also tried an "upscale" place in the Opera House area, I think called "Wild Ginger" - very mediocre.

                                    2. Hoi An - not much to add, but I saw a positive plug for Mango Rooms on this board - I would not recommend it - extremely overpriced for vietnam, targeted at tourists, and really nothing special. What is special, however, is the little rice pancake/spring roll things made in the Hoi An market - they fry them in front of you, then fill them with greens and roll them and give you a delicious dipping sauce - amazingly good. I would also recommend the hoi an market as a good place to sample beetlenut (although not really "food" per se), as the vendors will prepare it for you. I do NOT agree with Sasha's recommendation of Mr. Xe for tailoring, the quality at Mr. Xe was very mediocre (although it is very cheap). Better is A Dong silk, with a very charming staff and nice fabrics - generally quality of tailoring in Hoi An is not as good as in Hong Kong.

                                    3. Hue - Sasha's recommendation for Hang Me is a good one - we really enjoyed it, although later on, in Saigon, we discovered nicer, fresher iterations of many of the same dishes in the Ben Than market. Still worth checking out.

                                    4. Saigon - everyone seems to rave about QUAN AN NGON on this board - I think the food was good, and the ambiance charming, but it was all tourists when we ate there - a great place to try a variety of things under one roof, but it certainly does not stand out as one of the best of the trip for us. What was amazing, in Saigon, is the seafood stall Sasha refers to above (I think this is where I ate, largely by chance) - look for a tray of seafood and a grill set up in front of (with table sprawling into) a parking garage on the south side of Bui Vien, across the street from a red awning saying "flower fashion" - I highly recommend the razor clams, the clams, the duck embryo, and pretty much anything coming off that magical man's grill.

                                    If you want to eat dog I would recommend up north, I had it at a market and found it surprisingly tasty. Farther south it is not as widely available.

                                    Enjoy.

                                    L

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Loquax

                                      Nostalgia brought me back to this post five or so years later (this was the first non-parental trip I ever went on, at 16, and I just loved it), and after skimming all the comments and wishing I was back in Hanoi, I read yours and was reminded how guilty I felt about the Mr. Xe recommendation a week or so after making it. Everything I bought from him seemed good when I first got it but wore in record time. One wash bent all the shirt collars at weird angles. Oh well.
                                      Thanks for keeping it real. :) It's reviews like yours that make this site great. I look forward to following some of your recs when I manage to get myself back to one of my favorite places on earth.

                                      1. re: sashafklein

                                        Itsfood of you to be honest and let us know five years later they weren't so flash as two years after that people such as I are still taking your advice!

                                    2. Just recieved an e-mail from my brother-in-law telling me that the pho at 'Pho24' in Ho Chi Mihn city is 'truly HORRIBLE'!!! Even the mediocre Pho in Toronto is better!!