Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hanoi Nights: Bia Hoi, Vietnamese BBQ and Chè

In the final post of my Vietnam series, I just wanted to leave you with a night scene from Vietnam.

The tourists love to go to "bia hoi" alley, it's located in the middle of all the cheap, cheap hostels at the corners of Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dinh Liet, and you basically can sit at any of the plastic tables littering the sidewalks, filled with foreigners from all far reaches of the world (though mostly Australia), all drinking out of the same dirty cups filled with the same bia hoi (translated as "fresh beer") which costs just a quarter.  Yes.  Only 5,000 Vietnamese dong.

And you can get absolutely blitzed for just a couple of dollars, like everyone gets.

Around the corner, you can build up your drinking tolerance eating some Vietnamese BBQ.  You never really hear much about Vietnamese BBQ in the states (Koreans just have that area covered!), but here, it's a popular night meal for lovers who bond over the grilling of marinated meats and vegetables over gas flame.

At Xuan Xuan (look for the yellow shirted staff), a variety plate is about $10 for 2 people.  There was beef and pork belly and do-it-yourself dipping sauce which consists of limes, salt and pepper and red chili.

Then you just grill the meat on aluminum foil tented over a hot grill.  Add oil for steam and sizzle, dip, eat with veg and stuff it into your mouths.  The meat is tender and tasty, and the hot moto-fueled air just adds to the whole ambience.

Then around the corner from the BBQ place is a chè spot, one of my favoritest desserts in the whole world.  Chè basically means pudding, but the word pudding is used loosely - it's essentially a liquidy type of dessert, and there's lots of types.

At Chè Ngon, they only had a couple left when we arrived after dinner: a taro pudding (top center) and a coconut soup jelly pudding (bottom left).  The desserts are served warm, with a cup of crushed ice to add if you prefer it cold.

The chunks of taro are nice and soft, soaked in the sweet syrup, and the coconut soup dessert was loose, light and lovely.

What I like a lot about Vietnamese youth is that they are not that interested in drinking alcohol.  You'll find them camped outside of coffeeshops and chè places shucking bagfuls of sunflower seeds, tossing the shells on the ground, busy chatting with friends.  It's such a refreshing, simple way of hanging out, and I really love it.

Bia Hoi Alley
Corner of Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dinh Liet

Xuan Xuan
47 Ma May Street,  Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam

Chè Ngon
31 Đào Duy Từ, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm Hà Nội, Vietnam


  1. wow, i cannot get over the beauty of those desserts!! i need to go to vietnam NOW.

  2. If you are budget conscious, then you can make it a potluck BBQ party, where the guests can bring in the raw and cooked food. Best Food Truck In LA