Archive for April, 2016

Hanoi Moments

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Thoughtful moments: To appreciate the beauty and vibrancy of Hanoi and its people, walk around Hoan Kiem lake, then park yourself on a park bench and observe. For non-denominational feelings of peace and reflection, visit the One Pillar Pagoda at Quang Trung. To realize that while the Western world was mired in the Dark Ages, Vietnam had an active university, visit Van Mieu, the Temple of Literature. And to appreciate Vietnam’s history and culture, visit the History Museum, the Ethnology Museum, and the Fine Arts Museum.

Hanoi Restaurants

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Hanoi has terrific food, both in restaurants and on the street. Here are some of my favorites:

Vietnamese: Garden cafe, 36 Hang Manh (regular and veg) tel 38243402; Ashima, 44 Phan Dinh Phung (hotpots) tel 37344600; Chim Sao, 65 Ngo Hue (seating on cushions, ethnic specialities) tel 39760633; Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To tel 39340888; Au Lac, 13 Tran Hung Dao (upscale) tel 39333533, A La Carte at Hang Bun 21, in the very north of the Old Quarter, tel 39275655.

Italian: Pane e Vino in alley off Trang Tien 29; Mediterraneo, 23 Nha Tho tel 38266288

Baan Thai at 3B Cha Ca St, 39232336

Vegetarian: Tamarind Cafe at 80 Ma May St, Com Chay at 79A Tran Hung Dao St

Upscale: Verticale on 19 Ngo Van So Street gets my vote for the most amazing culinary experience in Vietnam (and maybe Asia) thanks to chef Didier Corlou. Buying spices in the entrance floor of the French villa will remind you, when you’re back home, of the wonderful tastes. Sadly, Corlou’s second restaurant, Mme Hien, serves bland and uninteresting Vietnamese dishes. Stick with Verticale.  Or the newer branch, Porte D’Annam,  opposite the Cathedral at 22 Nha Tho St. La Badiane on 10 Nam Ngu offers French cuisine with lovely garden dining. See also Wild Lotus on Nguyen Du St, and Spice Route at the Sofitel Metropole.

Street food: Bun Cha on Hang Manh, 1 corner north of Hang Bong – the best spring rolls and grilled meat in Hanoi! For non-meat lovers – Amazing crab rolls with all the local fixings, every day between 11am – 2:30 pm, at the stall on Hang Ma st corner of Hang Dong. Great food stalls on Quang Trung, opposite the One Pillar Pagoda. Fanny Ice Cream  is not to be missed – try the cinnamon (que) and young rice flavors. And pho ga, the national dish of chicken soup, is best sampled at Quan Com Pho or Mai Anh, both on Le Van Huu Street. Ask for ‘quay’, a dumpling, to be added.

Joma bakery and cafe at 22 Ly Quoc Su is wondrous – banana bread, pastries, great coffee and spacious large a/c rooms and a terrace, all with wifi. Marilyn, with a balcony overlooking the Cathedral, is perfect for quick snacks. Puku, at the very top of Hang Bong street (on ‘Food St’) is open 24/7 and serves the best cappuchino in Hanoi, as well as live music and cafe food.

If you’re staying for a few days and love fruit, stock up on whatever is seasonal. Apples, grapes, anona (custard apples), pineapples, watermelon, bananas and oranges are all in abundance. Sidewalk vendors are everywhere or look around the small shops just across from the old Hang Da market.

For stocking up on staples – water, beer, crackers, snacks and also dairy products – milk, yoghurt and imported cheese – try Hapro, a supermarket near Hoan Kiem lake, hidden behind cafes and shops on Le Thai To. The Wine Cellar at 59 Hang Trong has an excellent variety of international wines.

About My Site

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

I travel for about six months every year in Asia, the Far East, the Middle East, Europe and the US, for both business and pleasure. Most of my travels are solo, which is how I get to spend time with locals and fellow travelers and experience the culture at first hand. I also try to achieve at least a minimum level of spoken language in each country.

After constantly being asked for travel recommendations by friends, acquaintances and their friends and acquaintances, I decided to post  the information online, and make it accessible to everyone. Every recommended place, person and service on the site has been personally experienced, and the information is constantly updated. I hope you too get bitten by the travel bug.

To acquaint yourself with Vietnamese contemporary fine art (and avoid the pitfalls of impulse-buying second rate artwork ) visit my website: www.artnet.com/razran.html

Another website which is a must for Hanoi visitors is The Grapevine, an online treasure trove of cultural info – up to date notices of exhibitions, concerts, and reviews, served up by the incomparable Brian Ring http://hanoigrapevine.com/

Raquelle Azran

Hanoi cultural venues

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Two international cultural venues in Hanoi should not be missed: L’Espace at 24 Trang Tien, where the French Cultural Center offers a rich schedule of films, art exhibitions and music, and the German Goethe Institute at 56 Nguyen Thai Hoc, which also offers a rich selection of art exhibitions and films. Manzi is an artspace/cafe/bar which always has interesting things and cool people, at 14 Phan Huy Ich (a healthy walk north of center).