Hanoi's Street Food

posted on: Thursday, 12 September 2013

Hanoi street food: check

Just add fresh eggs, herbs and chilli

Family home, family business in Hanoi

The intriguing element of the Vietnamese tradition of running the family business out the front of the family home means that when you eat at a Vietnamese street stall you also often get a glimpse of people’s private lives.

At my beloved egg on a roll vendor at 55 Hang Giay Street in Hanoi's Old Quarter, a middle-aged lady makes deliciously fresh omelettes with herbs and chilli, on a crusty French baguette for the princely sum of around 10,000 VND (about 50 cents). She whips it up right before your eyes while you sit on the teeny tiniest blue seats in Vietnam.

A few months after I first started frequenting her stall for breakfast, this lady's place also became the backdrop to one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve seen. Her father, a very old, very frail man had come to live with her. We customers watched on as she cared for him in between cooking. On the one bed in the room behind her stall she fed him slowly with a spoon, washed his face and always had one eye on him. Her care was so gentle and dedicated that this intimate scene will always be entangled with my favourite Hanoi breakfast stall.

While sadly, this lady's father has passed on, it's worth going to this stall to see her mother, a hilarious octagenerian with hands covered in beautiful jade rings. She's always ready to have a joke with everyone and pour a cup of green tea. By the way, you will need to order in Vietnamese here. Egg on a roll = banh mi trung!

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