Ice, ice coffee
There are 36 streets of the ancient quarter in Hanoi wedged between the northern shore of Hoan Kiem lake and the impressive walls of the citadel. Some lanes in the ancient quarter are named after the wares on display, like medicine, copper, horse hair, silk and even a coffin street. In fact, there are lanes which still offer coffins or horse hair. Then there are entire blocks of tinsmiths, tailors, lacquerware makers, flower-sellers.... The Vietnamese are masters of the miniature and the quaint: from low-slung wooden stools to the tiniest boutiques with ornate silk prints and delicate ceramic ware. This, the oldest part of Hanoi, the seat of Vietnam’s imperial power until the late 18th century, is the busiest and most interesting. At night, the lights from the storefronts keeps the boulevards illuminated and animated. We head to Coffee Street to try their classic iced coffee with milk (or ca phe sua da) served in shiny goblets. We then follow our noses to a street stall selling xoi xeo, a flavourful sticky rice dish topped with ground moong beans and fried onions. The signature street food is banh cuon, a delicious steamed crepe made from rice flour, sugar and lime. The market area comes alive on Saturday evening when local revellers head for the large jars containing house-crafted beer fermented with bay leaves and...beetles!