Sunday, April 30, 2023

Nem Nướng Nha Trang Quế Hoa and their Grilled Spring Rolls @ Hanoi in Vietnam

I actually couldn't recall the exact reasons why we decided to patronize this eatery that's just a stone's throw from Hanoi's Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre; was it the grilled spring rolls on the menu, the online reviews or the overly friendly staff? 

Maybe it was a combination of everything. The menu reflected pretty reasonable pricing (at least for tourists given that it was the Hanoi's old quarter) and we happily sat on the stools after waited for the arrival of our food.

Kumquat Tea -  I would have assumed this was conventional lime tea that we could get from drink stalls in hawker centers. It wasn't very sweet, which is the way I like it.

Stone Crocodile - with such a unique name, the Kon decided to give it a try! I took a sip, kindly offered by the Kon, and loved it much more than my kumquat tea. The stone crocodile was something I used to eat as a kid during lunar new year; it's one of those candied / preserved  fruits from the eight-treasure box! 

French Fries - yes, we did order this and it had to do with the cool weather at Hanoi; it was cooling and we figured having French fries freshly sieved from the boiling oil would be heartwarming. Jovyn would love them as they reminded me of those from Potato Corner at Northpoint mall!

Sausage - your typical hot dog that you can get from supermarket although I had to admit it was deep fried pretty well with a thin crisp that didn't shriveled much in the open.  

Cheese Sticks - honestly, I am eating things I don't typically order back in Singapore. Weather definitely plays a very important role here. I am even drinking more soup in Hanoi than in Singapore. 

While the insides were melty, there wasn't much cheese taste and the accompanying mayo dip was essential. At 45,000 dong (about S$2.60) for five sticks, I wasn't prepared to waste food.

Spring Rolls - Indicated as spring rolls on the menu, I think it was more grilled meat sausage than what I understood to be spring rolls.

Compared to Taiwan sausages, Thailand moo ping and the above, I would say this Vietnamese pork sausage wasn't as sweet as their Taiwanese and Thai counterparts. 

Nha Trang Spring Roll - this was the main star for the eatery which was served like a platter of ingredients consisting of rice paper, grilled meat sausage, cucumber, lettuce, pickled vegetables, rice vermicelli, herbs etc.

Let's start working on the spring roll! 

Dip the wrapped product into the orangey sauce and take a bite! The sauce, which had a tangy curry tinge, complemented the wrap that was a perfect combination of crunchiness and savoriness; literally  screaming of herby healthiness for our middle aged bodies. Kon said he wouldn't mind having this as a meal every single day!


23 P. Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Hàng Bạc, 
Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam 

As above.

Total - 280,000 Dong


Saturday, April 29, 2023

Hong Bao - Said to have the "Best Dim Sum in Town" @ Central Embassy in Bangkok [Thailand]

I was half hearted when our Thai friend suggested a visit to a dim sum restaurant in Bangkok as I had some a few days ago at the good rated "Hua Seng Hong Restaurant, and it was quite a letdown. 

That friend was insistent; explaining that his family would only patronize on special occasions and Hong Bao (literally means the red packets distributed / received during lunar new year) is hugely popular among the Thai Chinese community! 

Just slotting in a random photo taken at the Central Embassy mall, where one of Hong Bao's branches was located. Based on their Facebook page, there are currently 10 branches in Bangkok, one in Phuket and an overseas outlet in Phnom Penh. 

Starting the meal with a simple appetizer that I had never seen before. Swimming in a pool of soy sauce that had cut chilli padi and garlic, I took a bite and a wave of familiarity hit me; it's like the preserved lettuce from the AAA brand! I loved it! 

Hong Bao Crispy Roasted Pork - the Thais love siew yoke and my friend ordered a small portion for us to try. One thing that caught my attention; that layer of roasted skin was very thin! 

Despite the skinniness, this was one of the better roast pork that could have beat some from Singapore! Meat was moist and it didn't taste overly oily; furthermore, the crispness of the skin was just right and didn't overwhelm the palate.

Golden Salted Egg Creamy Bun - I had to order this and boy, they didn't disappoint. Unlike the tiny ones we are accustomed to seeing in Singapore, each bun was big and filled with the delicious salted egg cream that were liquified with clusters of semi solidness that added to the texture.

Superior Steamed Shrimp Dumplings - another dim sum dish I couldn't resist no ordering even though 90% of the time, they failed to make a deep impression.

The ones from Hong Bao were unforgettable; portion was bigger and together with the intense flavor from the prawns was this soft texture material that I had never encountered before in other har gow. 

Pan-Fried BBQ Pork Bun - we were deliberating between this, the BBQ pork polo bun and the steamed BBQ pork bun. I can't remember why we were with this pan-fried version; maybe it looked the best on the menu.

Surprisingly, the bun had a soft texture, and generously filled with char siew that was on point! Usually, such pan fried buns would have a thick dough but it sure wasn't the case here.

Crispy Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls - the rolls were too thick for my liking! To me, I eat chee chong fun for the rice rolls and while shrimps / char siew would flavor the dish, they shouldn't smother the main star. 

Crispy Roasted Duck Spring Rolls
- enlarged and separately displayed on the menu, I assumed this would be special and requested to add to the order.

Personally, spring roll without roasted duck would have tasted better, and cheaper. Maybe I am too accustomed to vegetarian spring rolls, and made it a point to have one if I see them for sale at vegetarian tze char stalls in Singapore.

Congee with Century Egg and Shredded Pork - Hong Kong style and came with a serving of Chinese youtiao; the consistency was thick but not smooth and had slices of ginger to hype the taste. Overall, a tad too bland for my liking.

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao - another must order whenever I see it on the menu! For Singaporeans accustomed to eating dim sum in our little red dot, what was the one thing that stood out when you saw the above photo?! Obviously the size of the soup-filled dumplings!

Thin-skinned and bursting with sinfully yummy meat juice; there's only one Singapore word to describe the xiao long bao. Shiok!! Okay, maybe two words; shiok max!

Hong Bao Supreme Pork Dumplings - any dish that had the words "hong bao" attached to the dish name seemed to infer that it was chef recommended or popular. Whatever the case, siew mai is synonymous with dim sum. 

Thinly wrapped once again, this was meaty and definitely took its place as one of the better tasting siew mai around. Compared to the har gow from 
Hong Bao, however, it was still no match.

Deep-Fried Squid Cake - do you prefer prawn balls or squid balls? I have always been a fan of the latter but when it comes to Thai appetizers; you would see prawn cake rather than squid cake. Therefore, we should order this when we see it on the menu right?

Disappointing; it sure wasn't! See how plump and moist the filling was; tasted way better than any of the prawn cakes I have had so far in my life!  


Before and after; worthy of its claim to be the best dim sum in town, even though I haven't tried enough dim sum in Bangkok. Nevertheless, what I had would have placed Hong Bao as one of the top ranked dim sum restaurants in Singapore. 

Biggest thanks to Ben for his wonderful suggestion!

ชั้น 5, Central Embassy, 1031 Thanon Phloen Chit, 
Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

As above.

Facebook Page

Dim Sum Menu
As above.

Hong Bao Crispy Roasted Pork - 550 Baht
Golden Salted Egg Creamy Bun - 110 Baht
Superior Steamed Shrimp Dumplings - 135 Baht
Pan-Fried BBQ Pork Bun - 110 Baht
Crispy Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls - 195 Baht
Crispy Roasted Duck Spring Rolls - 140 Baht
Congee with Century Egg and Pork - 250 Baht
Shanghai Xiao Long Bao - 120 Baht
Hong Bao Supreme Pork Dumplings - 125 Baht
Deep-Fried Squid Cake - 120 Baht
(Subject to Service Charge and Tax)

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Ta Hien Beer Street @ Hanoi [Vietnam]

When you have already experienced the vibrancy of Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), you would assume that things would be crazier at the well-known beer street in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital

At most 225 meters, depending on where you measure the start of the beer street, the passage was narrower with commercial establishments laying out tables and chairs, leaving just one narrow passage for passersby / curious onlookers / potential customers.

Things were a lot quieter towards the end but I might be wrong since we arrived pretty early at about 7.00 pm and we know how crazy things might develop as the night falls. 

One humongous mural art at the side; our intention was just to walk past but when Alex found a barber shop for him to have a trim, we decided to wait for him by ordering some beer at one of the many bars along beer street! 

I have no idea where each shop's boundary is; touts were everywhere and we just took the service of one friendly guy in front of this Ngon Food and Drink! After a while, I think all the service staff just helped each other to make business. 

Menus for your reference. If you are hungry, you may opt for BBQ / hotpot and for the latter, you can even opt for frog meat! Local beers were cheap; a Bia Viet was just 35,000 dong (about S$2.00)

Honestly, I didn't know where the passage was! By the way, the actual name of beer street is Ta Hien street and like Bui Vien Street in HCMC, it was popularized by foreigners. 

As always, you get street vendors hawking their wares; from helium balloons to hair clasps. I have a distaste for helium balloons given how environmental-unfriendly they are and the situation worsens when customers accidentally / intentionally release them outdoors. 

We noticed this cage filled with ultra adorable puppies! Our dear friend, Lock, spent most of his time playing with them; didn't expect him to be such a fur-ball lover! 

My first beer; must support Singapore's brand! I admit I am not a fan of the old Tiger's brew. The crystal version is much more smoother and palatable! And I heard that their limited edition radler like white grape, was a hit! 

The Kon ordered this; deep fried frogs!!! Even though frog legs are not that uncommon in Singapore, and were popular with the Chinese ethnicity; I had never tried it before.

It's hard to imagine biting into frog meat and as you can see from the photo above, I can literally see its toe nails! But, I was issued a dare and for food, I am willing to accept the dare and take a bite! 

As the rumors go, frog meat did taste a lot like chicken meat, and I am happy to stick with chicken! Deep fried frog skin was memorable although not impressive enough for me to try it again in the future.

More beer! 

While I was getting a bit high from my second beer, there was a sudden commotion and everyone started clearing the street! It was quite a sight with everyone seemingly awaken from their stupor and obediently moved to the roadside. 

Here's the video for your viewing pleasure! According to one of the service staffs, the police will come three times a day and the operators would have to clear the street every single time. Interesting yet befuddling "patrol" since it serves no benefits yet inconveniences everyone. 

Customers were loitering around, not knowing what to do after the police vehicle drove past. Guess we were all wondering if putting back the tables / chairs so quickly after the "patrolling" would result in us breaking any laws. 

Operators would know what to do and before you knew it; tables and chairs were back on the street and it's business as usual. At this point, we also decided to leave as it was our first day in Hanoi and a good rest was necessary for a fresh start on day two. 


Tạ Hiện, P. Lương Ngọc Quyến, 
Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, 
Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

As above.

Bia Viet - 35,000 dong
Bia Halida - 40,000 dong
Tiger Crystal Beer - 40,000 dong
Fried Frogs - 200,000 dong