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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hungry in Hanoi - We Can Afford to Eat Out Every Single Day!

Larva... For reals!

Fried Street Food... I stay away from this lady because her food is awesome!
Dumplings, shrimp cakes... all deep fried and dangerous! Cost: 31 cents each

Plates are heaped with fresh veggies and small cuts of tasty meats.
Our orders at this sit-down restaurant costs less than $2 each.
My two sisters and I had a fortunate upbringing. Money was so tight it squeaked when our single-mom spent it, but she had great ideas for shaking up an otherwise mundane, lower-middle-class existence. One of our favorite memories is when Mom took us to the little Vietnamese restaurant in Casa View near our house in Dallas. The owners didn't speak much English, but their smiles warmed our hearts. They humbly offered us delicious meals we'd never tasted at prices Mom could afford. I still don't remember the names of the dishes, but I remember the flavors and the colors.We had our first Vietnamese coffee over ice... and I can still taste it to this day.

Our visit to Hanoi has magnified those memories.

We're not seriously radical when it comes to trying new things if they wiggle, squiggle or burst with body fluids when you sink your teeth into them. We passed at the snake hearts... still beating. But, food is fresh here... fresher than I can describe with words.

The fish in the silver bowl are still wriggling... and the frogs
are banded together so they can't escape.

Pho, a Vietnamese tasty beef soup served with fresh basil or peppermint leaves.
Cost is less than $2 in a sit-down restaurant with A/C. Beer costs $1.

Live chickens - but not for long.
The crab is costly - we passed it up when we were quoted $15 for one.
Food costs to eat out are very affordable. In fact, we eat out every meal because we don't have a kitchen. The amount of food and the combination of flavors are downright holy. The choices are plentiful, too.

My favorite is Bun Bo Nam Bo. Rice noodles and beef in a thin vinegar sauce with
fresh green veggies, herbs, roasted peanuts and fried onions. $2 and I'm full.

Vietnamese burrito...meat, noodles and fresh veg are wrapped tightly in thin, dry rice papers. Dip the mini burrito in a homemade  peanut satay-type sauce loaded with sesame seeds.
O-M-G!!! Yep... $2 and my tummy is full and taste buds are dancing.

Clay pot of tender-as-my-heart pork in a savory broth. Served over rice it's very filling.
Fermented root veggies add color and sharp flavor to offset the meat.
This is Carolyne's favorite... $2.

Ordering drinks in restaurants is where the bill starts to add up. Beers run $1-$2, as do cokes and bottled waters. With three of us eating meals out at least twice a day (and running to the mini marts for drinks, snacks, etc...) it does add up. We've started making coffee in the hotel room to cut down on spending.

Not hard to find delicious duck in Hanoi.

Eel... we tried it. We lived to tell our tale. It's not our favorite.

Eating on the street is favorable, too. Tiny stools crowd the sidewalk and
you can order right off the electric stove or charcoal stoves. Those fried
shrimp dumplings are 75 cents each... and they are SO good!

Carolyne and I discovered this cool alleyway one day while we were exploring the city. A smorgasbord of barbecues and seafood and gelatinous Vietnamese dishes lined both sides of the follicle-thin lane, yet motorbikes still charge through. We grabbed Jim and returned the next afternoon for lunch. Such a treat! Jim's favorite dish is an egg based pancake filled with meat and shrimp.

We found the Vietnamese hide-away food heaven!

So many national dishes!

My Vietnamese stinks , but our cook understands what we want. Jim's
hooked on her Banh Xeo and sausages. We eat full meals here for all
three of us for less than $4... total!