Most people refer to it as "aroma", that pleasant perfume from roasting and making coffee. They even discuss it in terms reminiscent of those used by connoisseurs in the wine trade.
Not so one coffee shop at the beginning of Ly Thuong Kiet Street. One hungover reporter went in the other day, sat down next to a fan - and ordered one cafe sua nong. Three minutes later he repeated the order.
The waiter looked a bit apprehensive and ended up talking furtively with the manager. "Good grief," said our reporter. "What have I said?"
Waiter came back with the news that this cafe did not serve hot coffee. You can have cold coffee in a variety of forms, he said - with or without yoghurt, ice or milk, but never hot!
Turns out that the proprietor finds the smell of coffee being roasted or heated is offensive, gets up his nostril so to speak. So, in the middle of perhaps the biggest sea of coffee shops in the universe, this Hanoian has decided to go it alone. Brave man.
Not so healthy lifestyle
To escape the hustle and bustle of crowded streets in Ha Noi, people near the Nga Tu So pedestrian subway in Dong Da District have turned it into a gymnasium.
In the early mornings or late afternoons, the often busy subway opened in 2007 becomes even more crowded as people start warming up for exercises. The elderly usually go for walks, wildly swinging their arms and chatting with partners. The young people jog, run or even practice hip-hop dances.
One 68-year-old, Nguyen Thanh Tam, said as the neighbourhood did not have a park, the subway was the only public space available. He said most pavements were illegally occupied by small businesses and motorbikes. "Moreover, the subway is not as noisy and dirty as the streets," he said.
However, deputy president of the HCM City Sport Medicine Association Nguyen Trong Anh advised people against exercising in the pedestrian subway because it could trap polluted air and dirt, creating a lack of oxygen.
However, if people want to at least preserve the status quo, it would be better to do the tunnel exercises to overcome the effects of living in such a polluted district!
Insects can be good for you
Insects such as silkworms, scorpions and spiders upset most people, but in many countries, they are becoming the foods of the future.
Many Vietnamese already eat insect dishes, for example roasted silkworms, or belostomatid essence, is added to sauce, while some restaurants serve dishes from cicadas, crickets, bee larvae, "stink" bugs and ant eggs.
But most diners don't give a hoot about the nutritional quality of the tiny morsels. They must have been surprised to learn from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that insects are healthy, nutritious alternatives to mainstream protein staples, such as chicken, pork, beef and fish.
Many insects are rich in protein and "good" fats, and high in calcium (bones, hair), iron (blood) and zinc (sex hormones). For those who are sceptical, please check a newly-released report entitled Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security.
Because they are cold-blooded, insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein. Crickets, for example, need 12 times less (percentagewise of course!) than cattle, four times less than sheep and half as much as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein.
We're not sure how profitable insect restaurants would be, but a warning to eaters: some insects are toxic and others are full of pesticides. — VNS