Hanoi with a vegetarian
We are enjoying Hanoi. Our hotel (the Elegance Ruby, which I highly recommend) gave us a list of restaurants and we have liked every one we tried.
We have eaten twice at Tamarind (80 Ma May). It is vegetarian. We liked the soups, salads, brushetta with cheese, and especially the Tower of Babel. Did not like the quesadillas or the falafel, though.
Hanoi Garden (36 Hang Manh) had excellent Vietnamese comfort food. The place was packed and it does take reservations.
Green Mango (18 Hang Quat) was upscale, elegant, and imaginative. I had a spring roll stuffed with shrimp and mango that I liked.
Green Tangerine (48 Hang Be). We tried to go last night but there was a two hour wait for a table, which must mean something. Elegant & expensive. Went tonight and found the food to be innovative, original, brilliantly presented, and not very tasty. Perhaps too much thought. We ate all vegetarian though, and one will probably fare better with meat dishes. The desserts were terrific, if odd and fussy.
We had the buffet lunch at the Metropole ($28/person + tax, drinks, and tip = $40/p) and it was simply the best. Go hungry. Give yourself lots of time. Pace yourself. Leave PLENTY of room for dessert. You won't need to eat again that day. (There was a smaller buffet in The Club at the Metropole for $25./p)
Places our hotel recommended, that we did not try:
Wild Lotus (55A Nguyen Du)
La Vertical (19 Nno Van So)
and KOTO (59 Vaqn Miew)
We also ate at the Ethnology Museum and liked it.
Would highly recommend Com Chay Kim Cuong 2 (its on Phan Boi Chau directly across from the semi-famous Quan An Ngon restaurant)- very fresh, reasonably priced veggie dishes and the most amazing eggplant. Well worth seeking out.
For upscale, La Vertical is amazing as is La Badiane (go for set lunches where you will get a gourmet feast for 12 USD vs dinner when you pay 25-30).
For cheap eats, I like Kangaroo Cafe on Hang Be- it is one of the many 'imitation' kangaroo cafes but here the staff are lovely. Again, to die for aubergine, great morning glory and the squid and cashews or squid in 5 flavors is incredible. Fresh spring rolls, etc, etc are all very good- just tell them veggie and they will customize.
Lots of the Com Dia places also serve up good veg options (these are the places wehre you get a plate of rice and then point to 2,3 or 4 items to pile on top). Some are overly greasy but I have had spectacular veggies at a few of these places- just look for the busy ones.