Different from other shops in Hanoi where the cooks often sprinkle some roasted peanuts on each bowl of banh da tron before serving these, this shop has on offer a small bottle of roasted peanuts right on the table – so each guest can partake of it liberally.
Aromatic Noodles Fill Bellies in Old Quarter
When I told my friend the dish would be even more enjoyable if she mixed with some peanuts, she said, “The more I chew on the nuts, the more buttery taste I have in my mouth.”
At VND30,000 (about US$1.5) a bowl, she found the dish very cheap. “It’s too cheap when compared to pho or other soups. It is such a delicious and fragrant banh da tron, indeed,” she said.
She would have eaten another bowl of the same, but the server suggested we try some mien xao dishes (glass noodle stir-fried with chicken, porks, beef, eel or sea crab).
“You should try these to enjoy the special and unique mien dishes,” the server recommended.
Though she was full, my friend asked me to try mien tron luon (vermicelli mixed with fried eels).
Apart from the mien soup, mien tron luon is an enjoyable dish for many Hanoians in Old Quarter. The server told us that they order eels from the central province of Nghe An since that eel is often fatty and tastes more delicious, compared to those from other places.
Ingredients that go into the making of mien tron luon include glass noodle, fried eel, sound and sweet fish sauce, fried onions, papaya salad, different kinds of fennel such as Lang basil, flagrant knotwed and marjoram. It is eaten with a broth cooked with simmered pork bones.
A bowl, costing VND30,000, was very appetizing, and my friend, who I thought had already had enough, savoured it heartily. “I’ve not tried an eel dish for decades now, ever since we moved to the US in 1979 and settled there,” she said, almost offering an explanation for her appetite.
Banh da tron and mien tron are available in the capital streets of 59A Phung Hung, 8 Le Ngoc Han, 42C Ly Thuong Kiet, 34 Le Dai Hanh, 14 Tue Tinh, 87 Hang Dieu, 4 Ham Long, 23 Nguyen Bieu, 1 Nguyen Chi Thanh, 1 Chan Cam and many other street corners in the city, and one thing is certain – you will always crave for that second helping.