The street hawker culture thrives in Vietnam, with many people out and about selling some great tasty food.
Sometimes what they have appeals and I procure some of whatever they have, these are some of my better experiences from Hanoi. Sorry about some of the photos it can be tricky to take quick photos that come out well.
Charcoal pork skewers
The brazier they are cooked on is precariously perched on the pavements edge, the char coals fanned manually from time to time glow with an alluring heat. No one seems to mind the enticing smoke that wafts into the traffic, the braziers location certainly makes it easier to serve the stopping motorcyclists buying bundles of sticks straight from the coals.
The fat burns my fingers as it stains the newsprint with that greasy translucency fat does to paper. The skewers were wrapped and delivered in a bag, pity I can’t wait a few moments to get them out and eat them.
The succulent fatty pork has been marinated in lemongrass, light soy, a touch of vinegar and sugar. About pen length and the thickness of my pinky finger the small sticks are a delightful charcoal-y pleasure.
–Great fried stuff
The plastic chairs and kitchen extend out the front of the enclosed space, a small space not large enough to park a small car, spilling out onto the pavement. It’s rammed with people happily eating and drinking, perched on the tiny plastic chairs, happily I take a seat inside.
The large vat of frying oil fronts the stall, festooned with an array of fried items, various shades of golden brown, textured with sesame, or sugar, or crumbs the odd prawn beams out shell on with the top half of it’s head missing. Five items seems like too much when I point out my order form the range.
The sour/sweet dip and leaves complement the fried items wonderfully. I add some fermented chilli sauce, cos I love it.
I dunno what the names of my selected item are, there is a list on the wall with prices of what they could be.
I chose texturally trying to experience a range, from the bread-y to non-glutinous rice flour doughs, the sugar or sesame crusted too, each adding another layer of favour. The filling varied between, fish, pork, vegetable and sweet, not necessarily corresponding with the outside exterior.
Golden brown ducks and chickens are amongst the various roasted meats, close to the roadside that runs parallel to the ground floor food section of the Chợ Hôm – Đức Viên fabric market.
The scales and chopping block are waiting for an order, the clever is on the side.
The crispy skin pork belly, blistered and tan, looks fantastic, too good to pass up. Salty, crisp, moist and delicious I sit on the step of a closed shop front as the last of the days light fades and the city is plunged towards darkness. The odd glance from a passing local reveals a nice smile when they realise what I am doing here. The crispy pork accompanied by some chilli pickled shallots is so delicious, I wish I had the words to tell these smiling locals that they need this in their lives. Although I hope they already know.
Fried sticky rice cakes
There are squares of rice cakes cooking slowly on a metal plate their surface crispily fried. The 3 wheel cart the vendor is selling them from is rustic at best, there is no sign to tell me what it might be, no advertising and I doubt there are many items on the cart she doesn’t need. The vendor smiles when I ask for one, a surprised grin, perhaps she knows how good they are, perhaps she knows I’m not likely to haggle over the already low price. The crispy cake is delicious, filled with fatty salted pork, egg and I think a little taro, clearly all steamed together in bamboo or banana leaves before being fried. Some fresh cucumber and chilli pickles and a dollop of smooth sweet chilli sauce make for an excellent snack. A pair of bamboo skewers make for impromptu chopsticks, a shop step once again my dining room.