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#48 Two months in Hanoi

Update #48 Published on update

We have now been in Hanoi for almost two months. In less than a week, we'll get back on the road towards Malaysia.

For our stay here, we have been renting the cheapest flat we could find. Let's be honest: at first, we were doubtful. The place is practically falling apart; each piece of furniture is flimsy and flaky. Three things convinced us to rent that flat anyway:

  1. A great accessible location
  2. On a lively street full of amazing food options
  3. At walking distance from multiple climbing gyms

All in all, it is surprising how fast you get used to a new routine. We are regulars at the bánh cuốn joint next door (whenever we wake up before they run out of food), have a list of our favorite coffee shops (has that ever NOT been the case?), go to the same bouldering gym several times a week (with friends!), cook at home...

About the kitchen setup

The kitchen setup of our flat is VERY small and VERY limited. (No worry, I'll only complain a tiny bit.)

The kitchen limitations encouraged me to be more creative about the dishes I chose to make. My preference went to options that required little "cooking" and more "assembling."

Some of our go-tos[1]:

  • Bún thịt nướng: In a bowl, assemble rice noodles, pre-cooked meat from the market (or marinated tofu), lots of fresh herbs, carrots marinated in vinegar, a nước mắm based sauce, some peanuts.
  • One-pot rice cooker meal: Add any types of diced veggies alongside rice, water, and seasoning to a rice cooker. Press the "cook" button and let the machine do the job!
  • Sushi/gimbap: Prep the rice and fillings (choose whatever you prefer/have). Assemble, cut, and eat with soy sauce.
  • Kimchi jiggae and gyeran-jjim: In a pot, cook the kimchi in its brine with some seasoning. Add the silk tofu to the pot and cook some more. In a bowl, mix eggs, water, and soy sauce. Cover and microwave for about ten minutes or until the eggs set. Serve both dishes alongside rice.
  • Homemade yogurt: Scald 1 L of milk and wait for it to cool down (finger-in-the-milk 5 seconds test). Add the milk and end of a yogurt to a warm rice cooker. Mix well and let it rest (unplugged) for 9 hours.
  • Oats with bananas: Eat the above yogurt with oats and sliced bananas for breakfast.
  • Fresh cheese: Boil 1 L of milk and add 1–2 tbsp of white vinegar. Separate the curds from the water, add salt and compress.

At first, this kitchen seemed small and unfamiliar. With time, I learned to use whatever was available and even tried new recipes for the first time!

I think I'll miss these broken pots and pan when we leave Hanoi. It's amazing how quickly a place can become home.

Until then ENDCHAR

  1. Disclaimer: Most of these dishes were heavily simplified from the original recipes, as we didn't want to buy too many ingredients. ↩︎

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