Strange Food in Hanoi
Grasshoppers. Chicken knuckles. Frogs. Pregnant eggs. Ant eggs. What do these things all have in common? They’re delicious (and nutritious). In Hanoi we met up with Trang, a local Vietnamese girl that Martin met during his travels in Thailand. After grabbing a special type of espresso mixed with an egg and cream that tastes like rich custard, Trang asked if we would like to try some of the stranger Vietnamese cuisine. Hell yeah we would.
Ordering a wide range of the foods mentioned above, plus a hot pot for good measure, we took shots of a liquor made with passion fruit. “Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!” rang throughout the restaurant, adding our cheers to those shouted by the tables around us. The crunchy, grilled grasshoppers and fried chicken knuckles made surprisingly good appetizers. A dish called the vegetable of the king, made with steamed greens similar to cabbage but retaining their crunchiness, was my personal favorite. The vegetable is dipped into fish sauce that has been blended with a boiled egg, creating an awesome taste and texture.
The meal was huge, perfect preparation for celebrating St. Patty’s Day later that night. We threw on whatever green we had, I was decked out in Flor’s green bandana because green was not a part of my limited traveling wardrobe, and hit up the Spy Bar. The night can be summed up in two two-word phrases: car bombs and White Russians. We threw down Irish Car Bombs until the Guinness well ran dry, then switched to the Big Lebowski’s drink of choice.
A bit inebriated, Jeff and I started talking in accents, poking fun at ze Germans amongst others. Random staring contests ensued with the loser being the first to crack a smile or laugh. Then, the Lion King karaoke hour started and lasted on and off back to the hotel.
The next night we met up with Flor and Jime and Trang and her friend Kevin to explore a local bia hoi. There was a large group of bankers exuberantly drinking behind us. Asking them to share a drink with us, we got to talking and they were amazed that I had worked for JPMorgan and understood how private equity firms operated. Throughout the night they gave us shots of Glenfidditch, a 30 year old single malt whiskey that costs $550 a bottle, and Beluga export vodka. It was by far the best scotch I’ve ever tasted. In fact, it was the best spirit I’ve ever tasted hands down. I even got the bank president’s number in case I ever want a job in Hanoi.
With our joints lubricated, crucial for me because of the huge roasties (south African for scabs) on my knees, we hit up the Hair of the Dog to work it out on the dance floor. Not being able to walk without looking like there was a stick up my ass sucked, but not being able to dance had been killing me. So that night we grooved until we were drenched in sweat and the bar closed. Another awesome Monday night in Nam.