It is the start of a virtual lockdown in Hà Nội, and it is hoped it will get us to where we want to be: a number of coronavirus cases within our capacity to handle.
Food options can feel more limited than ever, despite the fact we are able to browse our phones to click on whatever our heart desires. We need to be prepared for the harder times that are surely not too far ahead.
It is with this in mind that we want to give readers a look at a few of the delivery options available for food that, shall we say, is good for the soul.
Last week, when Hồ Chí Minh City saw coronavirus cases soar by nearly 5,000 in one single day, people were panic-buying food for their families.
You hear on national media that city authorities will never let anyone go hungry, that no one shall be left without basic necessities, but no matter how hard they work trying to provide enough groceries, there are people still struggling to find food.
Now many who pick up rescue meal boxes are well-dressed not looking remotely desperate, and it hardly passes comment. But they need help.
As a few relatives in the southern city told me: "You know what, we live close to the city's biggest supermarket, and we couldn't get everything we ordered: a quarter of our goods was sent to us, and three quarters of the money came back to our account."
It is hard to believe that after the hard post-war years, the city once known as Sài Gòn could ever want for food again, so I took a dive into a few options that could potentially be of help to my family. After a quick look, I found Cốm Nàng Tấm, a Hà Nội company that sells cốm, young green rice, which is luckily in season.
LOVE ALWAYS: A bowl of rice with a green rice cake and a dash of kimchi makes a nutritious meal for those in lockdown. VNS Photo Bảo Ly
I ordered some green rice paste (VNĐ280,000 per kilo), some fresh green rice (VNĐ290,000 per kilo), some dried green rice (VNĐ250,000), and hesitantly asked the shop if they could source some gourds, pumpkins, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and, last but not least, some green onions and aromatic herbs. I was told that if you order before 5pm, the goods would arrive in HCM City before noon the next day. I was sceptical it would make it on time.
The company delivered. My relatives received a box at 9:45am, much faster than many orders would have arrived from within the city itself. My family was over the moon.
In my head, I am still confident that that issue is one of supply, complicated by strict transport rules. Once this is solved, supply warehouses in the city and surrounding provinces will provide the residents with what they need.
Hanoians have become spoiled having so many delicacies from so many lands readily available across their city.
Online shop Huế Gia Trang provides anything you can imagine from Huế, from the famous bright orange pickled shrimps, tôm chua Huế (VNĐ55,000 per bottle), and Huế style dumplings and buns, (VNĐ30,000 to VNĐ50,000 per piece), through to minced meat to make bún bò Huế beef vermicelli toppings, as well as tiny Huế style dumplings and fresh lotus seeds or home-made bánh canh noodles. Shipping costs range from VNĐ25,000 to 40,000 depending on distance.
Other options include clear shrimp and pork dumplings (bánh bột lọc Huế) as well as Huế green hot chili. Browsing through the online store is like going on a magical mystery food tour of Huế without the chore of leaving your home. Food as travel. Travel as food.
Food lets our sense of imagination run wild, allowing our mind and soul to take a trip away from the reality we see every day during the pandemic. Such things can make a huge difference. Food is never just food. It is food for thought. It can lift your mood and take you to unvisited lands.
At The Slavic Tea House, you can do exactly that. Except rather than travelling to Huế a few hundred miles away, you can take an astonishing food tour through Eastern Europe. Located on Xuân Diệu Street in Hà Nội's expat enclave of Tây Hồ, the cutesy restaurant is host to various Slavic cultural events not to mention exquisite food. And, yes, they deliver.
MELTING MOMENT: Cherry pavlova from the Slavic Tea House can be ordered at VNĐ80,000 a piece.Photo courtesy of Slavic Tea House
The delicious sweet treats here are truly jaw-dropping. The cherry pavlova (VNĐ80,000 a slice) and cherry brownie (VNĐ70,000) are both divine. The pavlova has two distinctive parts, the super soft and sweet baked pastry and the silky smooth super light home-whipped cream, which will just melt you away.
Perhaps, the use of so many cherries here is a nod to The Cherry Orchard, the last play written by Russian playwright Anton Chekov. Such a reference would be sweet and fitting from this most literary of restaurants.
The Slavic Tea House has a rich variety of anything raspberry too: a raspberry brownie (VNĐ40,000), chocolate raspberry mousse (VNĐ85,000), and raspberry tart (VNĐ85,000). They also have raspberry vareniki dumplings (VNĐ135,000) or raspberry pirozhki (VNĐ55,000 per piece).
Last, but not least, the signature Medovik honeycake or Napoleon cake are surely worth a whirl, as I am sure are the many savoury dishes here, be they from Russia, Poland, Ukraine or beyond.
Though the coronavirus ravages on, there are plenty of delivery options across the country offering food for a healthy soul, body and mind. VNS
HOT AND SPICY: Huế delicacies are in high demand in quarantined homes.Photo courtesy of Huế Gia Trang
Cốm Nàng Tấm
All delicacies made from cốm, Hà Nội's special young green rice.
Add: Số 1A Nguyên Hồng, Thành Công, Ba Đình, Hà Nội.
Tel 079 6677 333
Huế Gia Trang
Online food from Huế only, Daily orders from Monday to Thursday, as well as delivery on Saturday.
Tel: 097 536 3565
The Slavic Tea House
Special Slavic dumplings from the cherry vareniki of Russia to Slovak beetroot salad and more. Indulgent sweet treats, Vegan Tuesday.
Order in English, Vietnamese and Russian possible. Delivery on Grab Food also available.
Address: 1A Xuân Diệu, Tây Hồ District, Hà Nội
Tel: 093 641 93 46