CNN reveals top five must-try dishes in Hanoi
The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – American news-based television channel Cable News Network (CNN) early this month touted five dishes every Hanoi visitor needs to try, including cha ca, banh tom, bun ca, bun rieu cua, and ca phe trung.
Cha ca (fish cooked with turmeric and dill)
CNN said Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a road in the capital dedicated to the dish – Cha Ca Street. The dish itself dates back more than 130 years ago.
Along the busy road, where spiderwebs of exposed electric wires hang overhead, dozens of specialists compete to sell the best cha ca – crispy turmeric-marinated fish that's fried tableside in a pan with herbs.
Banh tom (shrimp cake)
According to CNN, Hanoi-style banh tom, or shrimp cakes, has just a few main ingredients including freshwater crayfish or shrimp from West Lake, flour and sweet potato.
Instead of grinding the shrimp into a paste like a fish ball, the fried seafood is usually left whole, sitting atop the crunchy cakes. It's typically served with lettuce leaves for wrapping, plus chili, lime juice and fish sauce for dipping.
Bun ca (fish noodle soup)
Bun ca is described by CNN as “fresh and light”. The dish combines fried fishcakes, dill, tomatoes, green onions, and perilla – a mint-like herb.
A lunchtime staple in Hanoi, bun ca can be found just about anywhere.
Bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup)
Bun rieu cua is another gastronomic delight of Hanoi highly recommended by CNN.
Bun rieu is a meat or seafood vermicelli soup with a distinctive crimson color. The broth gets its appearance from tomato paste and annatto oil, made from achiote tree seeds.
Freshwater crabmeat and blanched tomatoes are the soup's star players. Tamarind paste lends sourness to the broth, while airy bits of fried tofu contribute crunch. Vermicelli noodles swim in the soup, adding balance to a dish that's both colorful and light.
Depending on the region, bun rieu might also come topped with beef, pork, snails or fish.
Ca phe trung (egg coffee)
The U.S.-based television network describes Vietnamese ca phe trung as “a Hanoi specialty in which creamy soft and meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese coffee”.
There are hot and cold versions. The cold one is served as a yellow concoction in a small glass, while the hot version comes resting in a small dish of hot water to maintain its temperature.
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