A friend and I are going to spend a few days in Hanoi in 2 weeks. It's the first time for both of us and we both love good, but affordable, food and fun bars. Was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on "must-see" restaurants and bars in Hanoi. We like all types of food and drinks.
Oh and it would be great if anyone knew of any gay-friendly bars also (we're mixed-one straight girl and one gay guy).
Thanks for the help!!!!
#1 anmi212 has been a member since 16/10/2007. Posts: 11
Presently, the Ha Noi Health Department would like you to know, CHOLERA is being served up by many street-side cafes so eating in PROPER restaurants is recommended.
There is a gay scene in Ha Noi - VietNam even permits, legally, same sex marriages - stuff this in your browser < www.google.com.vn/search?q=%22gay+scene%22+in+hanoi >.
Ha Noi food is different to that of the south. Don't be worried about eating mans best friend - dog meat is a specialty and localised to a distinct area.
There is a handout magazine, given to all hotels, that details recommended areas. I will post its name later in the day (now 05.22H in VN).
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
The handout I mentioned above is called THE GUIDE and is a free publication by the Economic Times of VietNam and available at all hotels and restaurants.
Your friend should know that HIV/AIDS in VN is amongst the highest in this part of the world, neck-and-neck with Thailand.
#4 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Thanks for the info--esp about the cholera. i looked it up and it seems that the latest outbreak was about 2 weeks ago. we will definitely not be eating at roadside stalls (something i prolly would've done otherwise). are there any restaurants that are particularly good that we should hit up?
and thanks for the warning for my friend...don't he's planning on doing anything just thought it would be nice for him if we went to a gay bar one or 2 nites :-)
#5 anmi212 has been a member since 16/10/2007. Posts: 11
My suggestion is the wonderful Banh Cuon Ky Dong Restaurant at 11 Tong Duy Tan St. This is way off the tourist track, and serves authentic Vietnamese food that you will love. Tong Duy Tan is just a little alley in the far-eastern section of the Old Quarter (not far from the train tracks). About 1 mile from Hoan Kiem Lake, but a very interesting walk through the maze the streets. I would not worry too much about illness in Hanoi as the Vietnamese are very clean people. I coated my stomach every day with 2 Pepto Bismol tablets - it served me well. I always consumed ice and salad greens (rather difficult not to if you love Vietnamese food).
#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,093
"I would not worry too much about illness in Hanoi as the Vietnamese are very clean people." Daawgon
Contrary to what our neophyte Daawgon says the number of people hit with cholera in Ha Noi has now reached over 200 with 20 or deaths.
One source of cholera has been detected in a Ha Noi lake and now the Health Department is arranging chemical treatment for city lakes. The cholera is caused by untreated sewage being dumped into the lakes - which is very common here in VietNam.
One benefit from sewage laden lakes is that they sure produce great vegetables - Morning Glory and VN Mint!
Maybe Daawgon should study wait staff habits and see if they wash their hands after sticking their fingers up noses or into ears, or scratching their hair. A recent government survey showed that the majority of restaurant and food handling staff did NOT wash their hands after using toilet facilities.
Maybe Pepto Bismol has some secret ingredient ...
#7 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
so does anyone have any suggestions on safeguarding against it? we want to enjoy the food there (love food) but be smart about it. i've read to avoid the food in the street stalls--any other recommendations??
#8 anmi212 has been a member since 16/10/2007. Posts: 11
In my 16 years of residing in VN I have only suffered three bouts of the Ha Noi Horrors aka the SaiGon Sh-its.
I only eat at high traffic eateries as they wouldn't have high body counts if the food was bad and also because the food turnover is equally high and therefore fresh.
Some foods are safe even if they aren't stored to Western norms. For instance, Canada banned all food that was not stored above or below a band of temperatures. Chinese food outlets business suffered - subsequent investigations proved that their way of cooking allowed food storage at room temperatures.
Likewise with some VN foods.
I always look for *running* water supply, not from storage containers. One time use plates / chop-sticks are bad for the environment but GOOD for your health. Plastic chop-sticks are easier to wash/clean than wooden, even in fixed restaurants the use of soap can be minimal. Hot (temperature) foods are safer than cold.
Upscale restaurants are no guarantee for safe eating as an acquaintance can testify when he ate oysters at a *very* expensive in HCMC and spent the next few days bleeding from various orifices, including his eyes, as a result of a parasite.
You will notice that some vegetables grow prolifically in sewage polluted water - easily seen in the rivers in Hue - and if not washed thoroughly, the bugs start their trip to your stomach! Pricier vegetables tend to have been grown properly often using modern fertilisers rather than 'night soil'.
Use common sense, check-out the cleanliness of food outlets, before eating just as you would at home.
Food hygiene is low in VN, although HCMC and Ha Noi now have health departments that check food. Don't hesitate to ask that food preparers wash their hands - it helps sensitise them to the practice.
Make sure vegetables are clean. I recently noticed a upscale restaurant that *recycled* leftover salad vegetables - the type of vegetable that is served alongside with a pho or other VN dish.
I often check on eateries for one of my activities and I make sure my breakfast is either simple or from a trusted source so at I start a day *clean*.
If I do get struck, I avoid some chemical remedies that try to solidify stool as they simply prolong the agony. Instead I consume many bowls rice *soup* (juk in Chinese) as a flush ... and then try to figure out which restaurant I should avoid in future.
Enjoy your culinary visit in VietNam.
#9 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
thanks for the advice-much appreciated :-)
i'm sure we will enjoy Viet Nam....as long as we avoid the Ha Noi Horrors! :-)
#10 anmi212 has been a member since 16/10/2007. Posts: 11