Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hello Ha Noi....Vestiges of Vietnam Part 2

Ha Noi, apparently means city at the river bend. Now, lest you think me some food snob, who only eats in aircond places, I would like to clarify that we did partake, with no ill effects, of the roadside PHO, sitting on very low stools and tables, and it was EXCELLENT. I am quite surprised by the pricing though, it was VD15,000. (= RM3.75). I mean, we can get a bowl of noodles here at that price without having to squat by the road. And like it or not, Ha Noi is light years behind us in terms of developed status. So, I dunno if we kena ketuked royally, OR, the cost of a bowl of PHO IS really that expensive.

Anyway, one of our travelling companions, who is accustomed to the life of royalty, (speaking of royalty, I bumped into Sultan Azlan Shah and Tunku Bainun at a Silk Shop in Han Gai, the shopping area of Ha Noi....it was the row of S classes parked on the street that made me peer in with nose pressed up against the glass), was getting very "3rd world out", so insisted I followed him to the Sofitel Metropole, while the ladies continued their shopping spree of lacquer and stuff. So, we entered the Sofitel, me a tad sloppy, having just spilt my fruit smoothie all over my shirt... where we were veered away from the ladida French restaurant, and directed to the Vietnamese Restaurant. To my pleasant surprise, I didn't have to sell my soul, and whatever other sellable commodity on me, to afford a meal there. Anyway, the King (my friend) was paying. It was USD 15 for a Sudu KL Hilton like buffet. Buffet starters and dessert, and a choice of mains.

These handcrafted spring rolls were absolutely deevine. Its a bit like making hong kong chee cheong fun....the covers freshly made from a batter, over a steamer. The meat filling was yummy.

A scent of green papaya? Funny how I used to think such titles of movies or books sounded so exotic. Now, I am inclined to think that the gwai lows seem to be so gullible, that everything with a dash of coriander, lemongrass, basil, fish sauce, ...sounds exotic. Probably explains the proliferation of fusion cuisines abroad, and its dismal failure here.

Dainty little starters, wrapped in exotic sounding leaves.... rather delicious though, I have to say.


For the mains, I opted for the traditional vietnamese fish balls with rice and vegetables...which was a mistake...they accidentally brought another main, prawns with noodles, which looked a whole lot more delectable.


Sponsor had the bamboo chicken....which was very good. They are very generous with their greens.


Desserts were pretty interesting. The thing in the urine sample bottle is creme caramel. Lovely mangoes they have. The opera cake was like a local musical, ie, forgettable.


Our next culinary treat was dinner at BOBBY CHINN'S. I've honestly never heard of him, though all my western educated friends did. A trendy restaurant located at one corner of the something something lake, the interior is lavishly decorated with spools of red cloth, and rose petals that makes wedding confetti look like a balding man.

The restaurant itself is very dark, and for old folk like us, they even provided illuminated magnifying glasses to read the menu. I kid you not. It did help though. Without it, I read the foie gras terrine as POLE GRASS URINE in the dark light...



Honestly, I can find NO FAULT at all, at this place, from the service, to the ambience, to the quality of food and to the fabulous owner, Bobby Chinn himself. No airs, this man has.

Seared scallops on edamame beans.

Seafood Salad with White Bean and Truffle Oil - mine, and absolutely fabulous.


Wifey's crabmeat salad on green papaya. Absolutely divine.

Fish cakes? My memory (and lips) is like a goldfish these days. Anything longer than 10 seconds, I go, "huh?"

My meat craving, after all that Pho, resulted in me ordering this piece of cow, Fillet Mignon. Excellent stuff. Creamy mash that slid down the throat like lubricants down a engine.

Seared Salmon on wasabi mash. Perfect.

Lamb shank with apple risotto

Seared prawns with a semi glutinous rice which was absolutely sublime. The rice was a bit sweetish, and went together like rama rama lap dingie ga dingie dong...

Wife's platter of signature dishes. Okay, prize for whoever can guess what that thing is at 3 oclock. I actually blogged earlier, but the autosave didnt seem to be working at the time, and I lost half my post.

The inimitable Bobby Chinn himself. Half Chinese, Half Egyptian, and credentials long enough to reach the moon. Great fella. One of our party was throwing herself shamelessly on him.

Complimentary glutinous rice pudding dessert from the man himself.

A La Carte Lemongrass Creme Brulee.

Here are a few more shots of Hanoi. At the bottom is the opera house and Hanoi Hilton, where my friend was looking to recreate the scene from the Quiet American, but couldnt locate the spot where Michael Caine had his daily drink.

And you wont be getting anymore food reviews from me from awhile, as my colleague just walked in and said, "wah, sudah tembam la".







22 comments:

Rasa Malaysia said...

Wah, you went to Hanoi too? At first, I thought you misspelled Hoi An as they have the same characters...but it looks like you did...Hanoi Sofitel Metropole is like THE hotel in town.

UnkaLeong said...

Looks like thod-man (Fried fish cakes) on Woon Sen (Rice Vermicelli)

boo_licious said...

oooh, Bobby Chinn! He's adorable - I love his telly show as he's so funny in it. Did they tell you how he hypnotised a chicken to sleep at Chow Kit market? Food looks super duper good.

wmw said...

Mmm...food looks good! Love the scallops! Don't mind Booy Chinn too. Hahaha....

foodielianne said...

I want to go Hanoi to see Bobby Chin :-(

Sze said...

urine bottle sample heh you really know how to plump creme brulee.

great meeting you last night, hope to see you at frangi's tonight!

Jackson said...

Arrr..... such a great trip u have especially with lots of great food! I love the good looking bamboo chicken!! LOL

Precious Pea said...

Goodness! Am heading to AirAsia website now to book myself to Hanoi!!!!

sc said...

very glad you wrote about hanoi..am going there in nov, have no clue on what to do and where to eat. at least i've got some pointers now :) thanks!

fatboybakes said...

sc, also try to go for the water puppets show, which we missed coz bobby chinn was more important to the girls in our group.

as far as eating at the roadside stalls, one will prob first recoil in horror.... but actually the food's really good. try to go to stalls where the woman cooks at waist level, ie, the food isnt too close to the ground or not cooking on the floor.

then the other things to do are, visit ho chi minh's mausoleum, which closes at 11AM. yup, 11AM. the corpse needs time to sleep or what!!! you should try to get there by 10am, coz long queues.

and of course, lunch at the sofitel metropole. and dinner at bobby chinn's. there's a nice cafe called cafe au lac as well, on the left lane next to the metropole.

sze, great meeting you too!!! drink with me, to days gone by, to the life, we used to know....here's to witty girls to went to our heads...

boolicious, he has such a great personality.

wmw, foodielianne, alas, i think nigel might have a better chance with bobby chinn...

precious pea, i only paid RM305 per person to get to hanoi....hope you can do better.

jackson, err...that wasnt the highlight leh.

Tummythoz said...

Oh no wonder u spoke to me at The Attic like I shd know who B.Chinn is. I only got to read this post now-lar. I'm unfamiliar with his name too but wow wow wow delicious looks! *Brushing aside water puppets too*

Precious Pea said...

Eh...AirAsia got promo now! Yippee...trying hard to get cheap tickets.

Precious Pea said...

Err...just check, RM49.50 per way and it came up to around RM360 per person. Deepavali week somemore and over the weekends, worth or not?

fatboybakes said...

precious pee, grab it quick. cheap lar. only bummer is, air asia only has one flight, which arrives at 9pm, effectively losing a day, and still have to pay for hotel. it might be an idea to stay in a cheapo hotel for the night, and move to somewhere nicer for the actual stay.

tummythoz, you shallow lass!!!! guffaw. yalar the women on my table were swooning.

Paprika said...

waaah what a glorious feast of a holiday! I don't remember paying more than RM2.50 for a bowl of pho. But given that it was in a backlane, by the longkang, it could've been cheaper! Didn't get to go to Bobby Chinn as this was pre-Astro travel+living! What a shame, he looks like such a fun and crazy character!

babe_kl said...

wow Bobby Chinn!!! dats uber cool to meet him in real cos he's so whacky and lively on telly.

sc said...

wow! thanks heaps fbb! heard that the water puppet show is really good, yes, will definitely watch it. wah, luckily u mentioned on the HCM mausoleum, closes so early!am definitely ons for the roadside food, i like to try anything and everything delicious(since i've tried fried worms, grasshopper and balut, how bad can this be ;p). will take your recommendations on other food places too, thanks!

smallertoe said...

wah! so powerful-ah? ate at sofitel? i oni sneaked in to take a look at the place n then quickly walked out for fear of being charged for ogling at the decor n food there! but then again usd15 for lunch seems reasonable.

roadside pho (fer a they call it)4 rm3.75 equivalent, seems to me that u've been whacked. will check with my viet frens wat locals actually pay.

err... bobby chinn?? ain't got astro, so i dunno. anyways food looks interesting there. where add? how 2 get there? maybe i should check out the place, the next time i m there. nice to have some occasional perks from work.

last i was there hcm place was closed for reno. anyways, wasn't interested to see the 'uncle' (as they refer to him in HaNoi) sleeping.

btw, those of u who would like to go to HaNoi can also try Vietnam Air. besides the fact that they tend to have flite delays, old planes, their seats have very good leg space (u'd be surprised) coz they dont cram many2 seats in a plane like MAS (or AirAsia?) and the food actually quite decent ... dis from someone that HATES meals on planes. Oso dey serve u Vietnamese tea n kopi! ticket quite cheap oso-lah.

Anonymous said...

Alo, alo, I where got throw myself "shamelessly" over Bobby Chinn....he was super duper friendly...aiyah, you so conservative

Julian Si said...

Wow, you celeb ... It's Bobbbbbbbbbbby!

CUMI & CIKI said...

your days of blurred photos are over. Just stop trying to hide.. because even THULE knows what u look like now la :P:P hahahahahahaha

CUMI & CIKI said...

bobby chin so ugs.. i prefer sexy sarky nasty bourdain la... yummie...