Social distancing can lead to fatigue, both physically and mentally, but it should not stop us from enjoying great food. Though transport options are much restricted in Hà Nội, there are still a plethora of great shops managing to deliver ready-to-eat foods for people to enjoy in the safety of their own home. Here, Ngô Minh lists a few of her favourites.
Chicken wings stir-fried in fish sauce from Góc bếp Hoàng Lan. Photo courtesy of the shop
Góc bếp Hoàng Lan (Hoàng Lan’s Kitchen)
Tel: 0904 508 533 -- 0967 784 482
Add: 8 Thái Hà Lane, Thái Hà Street, Hà Nội
Hoàng Lan Kitchen serves a wide range of ready-to-eat main courses, snacks and semi-processed food to help you save much time and stay well-fed. It has been a familiar shop for me over the years. Before the pandemic, I would often order from Hoàng Lan Kitchen when I was busy and did not have much time for the kitchen.
Some great picks here include traditional dishes like braised fish, caramelised pork with quail eggs, mắm tép chưng thịt (minced pork stirred in fat with shrimp paste) and ốc nhồi thịt hấp ống tre (minced pork and snail stuffed and steamed in bamboo tubes), that are delicious but would take hours to cook if you made them yourself.
Sometimes when I receive guests, I order food from here to make the family meal more diverse. A menu with a dozen dishes will never disappoint.
I never forget my children’s favourite: chicken wings stir-fried in fish sauce. Using the middle part of a chicken wing, the dish charms my kids and they eat greedily until there’s nothing left but bones.
I think the wingette is the best part of the wing as it fits children’s fingers, is not too meaty, while still being fat and juicy.
The wings are coated with a thin layer of wheat flour then deep fried in boiling oil. When they are well cooked, the chef stir-fries them once again on a hot pan, without oil but with a special fish sauce that makes the wings well-marinated and fragrant. It is just perfect for hungry little ones.
Colourful stuffing for spring rolls at Món ngon 3CE. Photo courtesy of the shop
Món ngon 3CE (3CE Good Food)
Tel: 0978 043 131
Add: La Thành Street, Ba Đình District, Hà Nội
The xôi cốm (green rice flakes with lotus seeds) here is absolutely delicious. So much so that they have even been featured on VTV4 via the “Hello Vietnam” programme, a show introducing Vietnamese culture and cuisine to foreigners. It is the signature dish of this shop, but many dishes will depend on the season such as xôi cốm and cốm xào (stir-fried green rice flakes).
This is a great place to order food for breakfast or supper. Xôi xéo (sticky rice with mung beans and shallots), bánh giò (minced pork rice dumplings), xôi trắng thịt kho (sticky rice served with caramelised pork belly) and xôi hoa cau (sticky rice with mung bean) are fantastic options.
Another great recommendation is the spring roll, a wonderful combination of fine ingredients. The colourful stuffing is gorgeous, with the mixture wrapped and rolled in rice paper and deep fried until the coat is golden and crispy, and the filling well-done. The fragrance of a perfectly cooked spring roll is nothing less than divine.
Sesame bun of Bếp An. Photo courtesy of the shop
Bếp An (An’s Kitchen)
Tel: 0967 784 482
Add: 11/10 Bích Câu Street, Đống Đa District, Hà Nội
This shop offers a variety of cakes and buns, including bánh bò thốt nốt (steamed rice cake with palm sugar), raisin brioche and choux pastry. The bánh bao nấm pho mai (mushroom and cheese bun) is a great call for a healthy savoury snack.
The bun looks different from other popular buns due to the dark colour given by black sesame.
The fillings here are made from many different kinds of mushroom, vegetables and mozzarella. One steamed bun for breakfast provides enough nutrition and energy for all your working day. The particularly ravenous could even try two, but it will not be easy to finish them.
Traditional moon cakes at Luk Lak Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
Luk Lak Vietnamese Restaurant
Hotline: 0943 143 686
Address: 4A Lê Thánh Tông Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội
At the end of our culinary tour, I must recommend moon cakes, a classic for dessert especially with Mid-Autumn Festival fast approaching.
Luk Lak Vietnamese Restaurant is famous among expats in Việt Nam for its authentic Vietnamese cuisine and great downtown location. However, due to the current coronavirus pandemic it is now closed. But, they are, thankfully, still delivering moon cakes, and exceptionally good ones too.
A traditional moon cake needs dozens of ingredients such as melon seeds, cashew nuts, green beans, char siu, sausages and salted eggs. According to the owner, the most important part of the filling is the pork fat cut into small dice. This step is started many months before.
The fatty dice are well-marinated in a mixture of brown sugar, apple wine and fermented cognac. They are then stored for 10 days, increasing in richness until they have the ideal flavour and taste for this luxurious cake.
Luk Lak moon cakes are truly special with an authentic traditional taste. VNS