It is surprising how we compare foreign food experience with what is familiar back home. The first impression which Bánh Cuốn gave us was its similarity to chee cheong fun (猪肠粉). Bánh Cuốn Gia Truyền had 3 different variants up for offer - pork fillings, chicken fillings and shrimp fillings.
It is one of Hanoi's favorite breakfast item, but we foreigners ended up taking it for supper. It matters not what time of the day you take it, for it is truly one of Hanoi's representative food, part of a list of must-try food when one landed in the city.
It is served with a separate bowl of clear amber dipping sauce, a bowl of nước chấm, essentially fish sauce or fish soup in Vietnamese. The owner noticed our blank look when the aqueous sauce was served, so with some miming (he couldn't speak English very well, but was still very helpful) he explained that we were to dip the lumps of bánh cuốn into it before consuming.
Heavy diners like me would not survive the night with just bánh cuốn in my stomach, however tasty it is. Fortunately the shop had another Hanoi culinary favorite, bún thang. The similarity of bún thang to one of our local dish, shredded chicken noodle (鸡丝粉) is rather striking.
One other side dish which we found delicious was lạp xưởng, the Hanoi version of Chinese sausage. It was actually not different from the one which we are familiar with in Malaysia, in taste and in texture - they are both as delicious as the other.
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