The land of juice

posted on: Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Persimmon, Mangosteen, Green-skinned Orange, Pomegranate, Lychee

Why did the woman cross the road? To get a Nuoc Chanh.

Don't let the traffic deter you

When a friend visited me in Hanoi, she promptly exclaimed, 'It's the land of the juice!'* because everywhere you go the breadth of juice options is extensive. Not least, there is watermelon, orange, cumquat, lychee, apple, dragon fruit, mango and coconut all ready to accompany any meal.

But if the quintessential dish of Hanoi is pho, the quintessential drink of Hanoi is nuoc chanh.
Simply lemon juice mixed with ice and water, then lightly sweetened with sugar, it sounds like a plain version of lemonade, but it's somehow not and you cannot have an authentic taste of Hanoi life without trying it, or indeed having it as your beverage of choice with most meals as I do.

The quality and presentation of this drink can vary quite significantly, but I had the good fortune of living across the street from a cafĂ© serving a supercharged nuoc chanh. So good was it that I regularly took my life into my hands and tried to cross my lovely tree-lined street, but also a hectic thoroughfare during peak times, just to get the juice at number 6 Phan Dinh Phung Street.


If I lost my nerve to cross the road with thousands of motorbikes screeching towards me I would catch a cab from one side of the road to the other. Yep, about 20 metres. Ludicrous? Yes. Worth it? Obviously!

*As an aside, what Vietnam is not is the land of water. As you can't drink the tap water, I bought my own non-BPA bottle and a huge water and fill it up from there each day. There may be a better way than this, but it seriously reduced the number of plastic water bottles I went through each day and that made me feel better.

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