Fast Hand Pulled Noodles

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I’m not sure when it all began but I am having a love affair with noodles. If someone gave me the “okay,” I’d be slurping noodles six ways to Sunday. And the mie tarik (pulled noodles) from Mie Tarik Laiker at the Food Louver court in Grand Indonesia mall is by far the most addicting. There’s a Chinese place across the way that is supposedly more legit but it lacks the chewy perfection of these noodles, the deep shallot broth that rivals any soupe a l’oignon, and the perfect proportion of morning glory and crispy fried shallot sprinkled on top. Who says you can’t find good food in a mall food court?

http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=71377
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Mie Tarik Laiker
found at food courts in
 – Grand Indonesia Mall
 – Senayan City Mall
 – Kelapa Gading Mall
Jakarta, Indonesia

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Ben Thanh Market

I never posted this because I’m horribly inconsistent when it comes to the blogging. I keep saying I’ll get better at it but when it comes down to it part of me is lazy and the other thinks it’s self-indulgent. So let’s get actively indulgent!

Oh, the massive markets of Asia. When traveling, many of us go in thinking we need to get to the soul of a culture, whether it be through food, art, music, or simply meeting the people. You can often find all of that at a central market where you carefully eke through narrow aisles perusing stall after stall of everything.

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Ben Thanh Market is in the heart of Saigon where many flock for its cheap goods whether it be lacquerware or nailpolish pens or a garment stall where they’ll make you 2 for 1 suits featured in the latest GQ magazine in two days flat for under $200. Those cats in the garment stalls are fast and dapper.

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It’s always a good idea to see what the locals snack on. And I’m always curious to find out how the local dried squid is.

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I saw this scene often on the streets. Women prodding each other’s faces to push out any facial impurities. Everyone in Vietnam is an aesthetician.

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Fun felt ball imaginings!

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Loads of lacquer and coconut shells.

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I picked up plenty of tea and blue mountain coffee from this Vietnamese/Korean stall. We noticed a lot of Korean investment in Vietnam and a conspicuous lack of any U.S. products. This is the first country we visited with no Starbucks. And no need for one; Vietnamese coffee is roasted and caramelized to perfection.

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Because I bought so much tea and coffee from these people, they threw in a few free filters. Vietnamese coffee can only be made this way. Don’t you dare put it through a regular joe coffeemaker. I’ll have to post the beautiful ceramic filters and cups I bought as well. I’ve been scheming to start a new series of posts called: LOOT. Let’s see how that fares.

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I love crazy food art. I think it started with my brother creating a stand of trees out of broccoli in a landscape of snow made of mashed potatoes so I’d eat my veggies. This is a bit more refined but will I ever have the patience to learn how to do this? I’m always impressed with the Japanese women who make adorable menageries of sushi animals for their kids’ bento boxes. I want to say I will be that mom but I foresee lumps of leftovers in tupperware in my children’s futures.

Ok, I’m getting tangential. See you next time. Hopefully sooner than later.

Bomb me with some banh mi!

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The first order of business in Saigon was to bite into some local, original, supremely delicious banh mi. I had trolled the internet and after reading so many recommendations, we decided to try Nhu Lan bakery. Thank you, internet.

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We tried the doner kebab banh mi, which has become very popular recently and for good reason. The beautiful morsels of sweet, juicy, tender meat laid down upon a perfectly soft baguette with the right proportion of crunch as you sink your teeth into the perfect sandwich, left us in silent rapture already contemplating another sandwich. I think what sets apart Vietnamese cuisine from other southeast asian fare is the use of fresh veg, herbs, and vinegar. I love to indulge in a fatty piece of pork or beef that floods my savory senses but throw on some fresh cilantro and vinegary pickles and it’s harmony on my palate!

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We also decided to grab a traditional banh mi and other treats to go since we were late meeting our friends at the war museum.

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We grabbed a sandwich and pork bao. But there were plenty of other things that had us wishing we lived here.

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I would have loved to take some of these pickled veggies home …

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to have with my suckling pig.

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We tore into the bao after catching a taxi. The minced pork was moist and there was a sunny surprise in the form of an egg yolk that made the bite nice and creamy with extra protein.

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Don’t miss out.

A Day in Hanoi

We didn’t have a lot of time in Hanoi but here are some snapshots of what we saw.

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Beer and alcohol as offerings to the gods. These are the kinds of gods I can get behind.

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Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. He’s been floating inside there since 1969 to be forever preserved for all those to revere him.

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I paid a buck for this blurry photo. Enterprising sidewalk barbers, man.

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Thit cho (dog meat, the “c” is rubbed off). Roasted dog stand on the side of the street. In most countries, dog is found in back alley restaurants but in Hanoi, it was all too easy to come across. There were mounds of designer knockoff items here but no cute LV doggy outfits, and no romping doggies. 😦

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Quan An Ngon Restaurant. If you don’t have enough time to hit up all the food stalls around Hanoi, stop by Quan An Ngon in the French Quarter. It’s an old villa packed with a variety of food stalls you can order from and have a nice sit down drool-worthy meal.

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Green mango and fresh squid, shrimp pasty salad with shrimp crackers. Simple, refreshing, incredibly satisfying. The perfect way to start a meal.

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Banh cuon. Rice rolls filled with minced pork and woodear mushroom. I could eat these for breakfast every morning with a side of pho.

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Beautiful broth.

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Sticky icky spicy pork ribs. If there were a country in Southeast Asia I’d pick to live in based on cuisine, it might have to be Vietnam.

Quan An Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau
French Quarter, Hanoi