NEWS: In 2015, we will not be available to conduct tours at the following times:

May 3-9, June 19-July 4, August 20-September 22

The food available in Hanoi's narrow alleys and tree-lined boulevards is just as much a part of the city as its lakes and old world architecture. In fact, all of these elements combine with the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people to produce a lively culinary scene that is both diverse and confronting.

Over the past ten years, 'the god' (Van Cong Tu, author of the blog 'Vietnamese God') and myself (Mark Lowerson, otherwise known as 'Sticky' in the pages of this blog) have been traversing the streets of Vietnam's capital, as well as cutting a wider arc through other regions of Vietnam and beyond, wolfing down between us virtually everything on offer.

Tu is an accredited tour guide with more than 15 years experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He is an expert on the cuisine of the south-central coast, having grown up in Nha Trang and frequent visits to Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island make him very well-versed in what people are feeding their faces with in the south, too. But Hanoi is where he dwells and its chaotic web of lanes and alleys are where he eats most. Tu knows the market vendors and they like him.

Mark has been resident in Hanoi since January 2002, eating on the streets here from day one. The blog 'Stickyrice' is one of the longest running foodblogs, with the first post dated May 2005. Named in The Times Online's 50 Best Foodblogs in 2009 (at #22), 'Stickyrice' has been featured on 'Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie' and as part of SBS's Featured Foodie series.

We specialise in Vietnam's streetfood and wet markets and have recently designed a series of itineraries for travellers and food enthusiaists. These tours have been carefully planned to give visitors to Vietnam an authentic taste of a country very attuned to the rhythms of food through the day and through the seasons. Together, we visit the street stalls and markets, sampling the produce and eating from their dishes and bowls, as well as cooking with the ingredients at home.
Our tours range from a one hour market familiarisation to a full-day eat-a-thon. The most popular tour is the 3 hour (8.30am-11.30pm) morning tour which kicks off at Hanoi's old East Gate, and includes a typical street market walk (Tu explains food practices, strange food items, some delicacies), a visit to ceremonial cake stalls, a special French dessert, the food sections of Hanoi's main Dong Xuan market, a streetfood alley for a noodle lunch, fruit stalls and coffee at an historic old quarter cafe.

A full day (9am-3pm) itinerary for foodie tragics (including more market visits and more street snacks and drinks) is also available. For those more in tune with the evenings (4pm-7pm), we also offer a tour of snacks, beers and street noodles, followed by streetside dessert. All tours are inclusive of all food/drinks and are conducted entirely on foot after Tu meets and greets at the hotel.

Tu and Mark can also customise tours for particular interests if given sufficient advance notice. For more information and/or to book a tour, email both Tu: tuvancong2003@gmail.com and Mark: lowiemark@yahoo.com.au


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Eating Elsewhere in Vietnam

Nha Trang banh xeo
Our street food experiences don't end with Hanoi. We're not that one-dimensional. While we eat with our clients in Hanoi, guiding them through the dishes, walking through the markets and helping them to peel back the layers of the city - to see it a little bit as we see it - our food expertise does extend to elsewhere in the country.

Oh yes, we've been eating at tables in the centre and the south of the country whenever we've had the opportunity over the years. And we continue to do so. The places in Vietnam that we find ourselves in - when we're having a break from the tables of Hanoi - are often the same ones that our clients are venturing to later in their trip.

So we like to share what we know in a follow up email. We hope that the skills we give our clients to navigate the amazing street food of Vietnam, they can then utilize on their own both after the tour in Hanoi and then in their onward travel. We want them to eat the good stuff throughout their journey.

banh mi on a bike
We tell them to wait until they reach the centre and the south to seek out Vietnam's incredible sandwich, the bánh mì. People are surprised to find that it's not done so well in the north of the country. Finer versions - with all of the classic ingredients - are being assembled in Hội An and Saigon.

Hue bun bo Hue
Dishes like bún bò Huế - a ballsy meaty lemongrassy noodle soup - should of course be eaten in Huế, the ancient capital in the centre of the country. There is also the unique range of savoury cakes steamed in leaves, and dunked in very spicy nước chấm. Huế gets kudos because of its historic sites and proximity to the Vietnamese DMZ - but we view the city as one of the very best to eat in, especially if a bit of local knowledge can be procured.

Danang crab
Like the locals, we wait until we hit coastal towns like Danang and Nha Trang before we down any saltwater fish and seafood. It's common sense. In Hanoi, we eat freshwater swimmers. In the coastal cities, we follow the crowds to seafood barns where we select the fish or squid or prawns - whatever has been caught that day - we pay by weight, we instruct the waiter about how we want it cooked - and we gourmandize!
Cao lầu
Vietnam is a fine place to eat. There are many different tables across the country. Sometimes it might be a dish interpreted in a different way - using ingredients on hand in that region. Certain dishes are only eaten in certain locations. A dish originating in one city might be a poor imitation cooked in another city.

We do our best to impart these nuances to our clients both during the tour in Hanoi and in the follow up.

72 comments:

  1. What a fabulous way to experience Vietnam. An incredible morning with charming Tu. delicious & different foods to try in places we would never have been brave enough to venture in to. Thank you Tu. We loved meeting you.

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  2. We did Tu's street food tour in Hanoi. The tour was fun and informative and we ate at some great places we would otherwise not have thought to try. Tu also gave us suggestions and where what to eat on the rest of our Vietnam trip. Highly recommended. Thanks Tu. David and Andrew

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  3. Hi tu!

    My name is guglielmo and I will be visiting Hanoi in the next week... I am searching for a way to contact you, because I would like to join one of your food tours... But I cannot find any information on the website (not even your email...) please write me at guglielmo.paoletti@gmail.com

    Thanks in advance! Guglielmo

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  4. Vietnam is a very popular destination in Indochina peninsula, all our Vietnam travel tours are designed to meet your requirements and interest in mind, following are only a sampling of what you can expect when taking our tours to Vietnam. we design our itineraries to make them possible for you to explore the amazing sights, cruises, home stay, trekking, visiting ancient sights, beach holidays, bustling cities and more, come with us and let us guide your Vietnam tours the way you wish for.

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  5. But Hanoi is where he dwells and its chaotic web of lanes and alleys are where he eats most. Tu knows the market vendors and they like him.
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  6. Hi, we are going to Hanoi from Phu Qouc the 9-11 of January 2016 and would be very interested in meeting you for an exiting food experience. We were in Hoi An 3 years ago and absolutley fell in love with the food. Please contact us at josephine.agren@gmail.com if you are available at this time.
    Best regards, Josephine & Anders from Sweden

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  7. We did Tu's tour in December 2015 and it was truly the highlight of our time in Hanoi. We'd explored Hanoi's street food a bit ourselves, but Tu took us *way* deeper. And it wasn't just that the food was delicious (it was) but he also offers the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the city. The whole thing was great and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys food and wants to learn.
    -Jordan

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  8. Chào Tú. Tôi đã đọc các bài viết về thức ăn đường phố ở HN, thực sự rất đáng yêu và tuyệt vời.

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  9. I have read your posts of Hanoi street food and just say that it is really great. Thank for share some tips about Hanoi travel

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  11. Tu is a very cool dude.. loved his manner and the breezy way he took us around the market. We spent the next few days trying to retrace our steps!!! He really knows his stuff and all about the food. even managing to encourage us to try some very un-western bits and bobs in the process (like unborn chick, still i egg!).. all delish of course... would highly recommend this tour!

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  15. Ho Chi Minh City is one of the places with variety of tasteful and delicious foods.
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  16. Hi Tu,
    A big thanks for the street food tour we had in Hanoi the other week. A perfect introduction to the exiciting vietnamese food culture. The highlight of the trip.
    And by the way; the Banh Mi Phuong in Hoi An was great as also the coffee place on the corner.
    Jan & Kristina from Sweden

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  18. Margaret Pestell14 April 2016 at 04:04

    Hi Tu
    What a really interesting and friendly tour of Hanoi's and places to eat. We had a fantastic time, and the food choices were excellent .

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  21. Nice article, you can check this hong kong food tour

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    1. Hi Ana Marisol
      Did you come to Hanoi , Vietnam ? I'm a guide in Hanoi , I can help you try vietnamese food tour or you can read more detail here http://vietnamecotravel.com/hanoi-street-food-tour-with-expert-local-guide-553

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  27. We've just done an excellent tour with Tu. Very engaging, and helpful with tips for onward travels. Took our food preferences into account, but also pushed our boundaries. Thanks for a great afternoon.

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  29. My wife and I had a wonderful morning tour with Vu today. Very insightful and humorous we both appreciated his guidance and wisdom in escorting us through the food delights of the old quarter.
    A great highlight of our trip to Hanoi and highly recommended.
    Phil Nash Melbourne

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  32. Tu's street food tour was recommended by my friends who said it was the highlight of their honeymoon. It certainly didn't disappoint! It was a fascinating insight into Vietnamese culture and politics through food. Tu was a gracious guide and so generous with his time and knowledge. Thanks for a wonderful afternoon. Maeve, Tom and Kate.

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  33. Thanks Van for sharing images of Hanoi's street food,it looks so delicious. The food available in Hanoi's narrow alleys and tree-lined boulevards is just as much a part of the city.

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  34. A fantastic whirlwind street food tour, where we had the chance to try many new things we wouldn't have known how to order or find by ourselves. Well worth the time and money. Gave us plenty of suggestions for other cities on our Vietnam tour.

    Many thanks,

    William & Corinne

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  35. Could you please give some review about this Hanoi restaurant. Thank you very much.

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  38. We had such a wonderful time on our afternoon tour with Tu that I signed up for a second, evening tour a few days later, and that was wonderful, too. We tasted so many delicious, interesting things and saw so many memorable sights and Tu was a delightful companion, able to tell us about not only the food but the city around us (including lessons in how to cross the street--no small thing in Hanoi traffic). He also gave us great recommendations for other food stalls and restaurants that we later visited on our own. He is a terrific guide and going out with him is a first-rate way to experience the food and life of Hanoi. I don't know when I'll be there again, but when I am I hope to tour with Tu again!

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  39. Interesting post, Vietnam and particularly Hanoi is full of food corners which offering some of the best taste in Asia. A Vietnam food adventure is one of them which everyone have to plan for it.

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  41. Tu's street food tour was not only the highlight of our 2 week trip traveling through all of Vietnam, but one of the highlights of my life. I have been a passionate student of Vietnamese cuisine and culture for 10 years, always dreaming of the day i could roam the streets of Hanoi tasting everything in sight. Tu made my dream come true and went above and beyond to answer hundreds of questions with a smile. He gave us so many wonderful recommendations, not just on the tour but for our whole trip before we arrived. I am so grateful for the experience and cant wait to come back for another tour with Tu. This is a must-do for anyone coming to Hanoi!

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  42. Nice Post.Thanks for sharing this inyour blog

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  43. Hello! How can I book your tour please? I can only find fake street food tour websites not with you guys!

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  44. Please email us: tuvancong2003@yahoo.com. Cheers

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  45. We did the lunchtime street food tour with Tu last week while in Hanoi and it was really great. We ate at a number of hidden gem places where we would not have gone without a local to recommend. All the food we tasted was lovely and everything so fresh of course. Beyond the food Tu was a very good guide and gave insights into the local markets but also life in Hanoi more broadly. His advice on how to cross the roads has served us well in Hanoi and beyond in Vietnam and his list of recommendations for restaurants in other cities has been very valuable too. I would highly recommend Tu and his tours.

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  46. Yet again, this tour has been the highlight of the trip! Every time i learn so much, not just about the food but also the local culture and history! Tu is just a fantastic guide, full of knowledge and advice. Every time he shows us so many hidden gems that we would have been missing out on otherwise. I have done 2 tours with Tu and i will definitely do another 1 when i am back next time!

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  52. My partner, Peter, and I took an afternoon tour with Tu last week and we had a deliciously good time. Tu also generously sent us a list of suggestions of other tasty places to check out during the rest of our time in Hanoi, and they were EXCELLENT. Tu is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and hilarious. Would definitely recommend this tour to anyone visiting Hanoi.

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  53. Our group of four food obsessed travellers took a lunch time tour of Hanoi with Tu last month and all ended the day raving about the street food offering (so much so that we went back twice in the following days for the fish and pork rolls Tu introduced us to!). Tu is fun and knowledgable and took us to places we would never have found on our own. Doing Tu's tour at the beginning of a Vietnam trip pays off for the list of recommendations throughout the country that he is happy to send. Effectively we were on Tu's tour for the remainder of our two week holiday. I've been home now for a week and am suffering deep Viet cuisine withdrawals.

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  55. I did the night tour with Tu and it was one of the highlights of my trip in Vietnam. If you are interested in food, coffee, and culture then you will really enjoy this tour. Tu was easy to talk to and had lots of knowledge to share about each dish or snack we tried. There is no possible way I would have known about many of the small dishes we ate during the tour - even though I had researched a number of foods/dishes I wanted to eat in Vietnam before arrival. Not only did Tu put on a great tour but he offered me some excellent restaurant and food recommendations for me to explore on my own. Thank you Tu for an outstanding tour!

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