Tried some Xoi (pronounced Soy) on Hang Gai street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Xoi is sticky rice kept warm in a bamboo basket day and night and is usually served with meat and vegetables on the side. It is widely considered one of the best street food dishes in all of Vietnam. The particular vendor we encountered was selling a variety with some type of dried sausage, some ham concoction (the spam of Vietnam, who knows?), fried tofu, shaved pork skin, and deep fried balls of egg. As foreigners in a country without any signs in English and even fewer English speakers ordering food from locals is like gambling with your gut. What looks like beef soup in the pot may contain fish eggs and fish eyes (just because nothing goes to waste), so you always have to remain mindful of the diversity in each dish. This is a potential nightmare for people with allergies or weak stomachs, but for people like myself who see food as part of the travel adventure I dive in mouthfirst.
And this time I hit the jackpot.
It was delicious and the flavors were diverse, the sticky rice was savory, and the fried egg balls were unusual and a nice addition. We sat there savoring our bowl of Xoi, which only set us back 2 US dollars, and were already planning a return trip to Hanoi.. if only in our dreams.
1 - Xiao Long Bao at Crystal Jade in the IFC Mall, Kowloon Side. The best pork soup dumplings I’ve had since Singapore, though we had to wait about 45 minutes for the dish to make it to our table. This would be totally unacceptable if these weren’t some of the best buns in Hong Kong… and I think the restaurant takes advantage of this fact.
2 - Pigs ‘hanging out’ at a random dai pai dong in Hung Hom, Kowloon in the food streets near my apartment building. It doesn’t get much realer than this. Char siu fan (BBQ pork + rice) for the equivalent of USD $2.70 - not too shabby, although I did not partake.