For great, traditional and some unusual Vietnamese food, try Highway 4. The actual Highway 4 crosses the mountains and hill tribes (and ethnic minorities) of northern Vietnam, and this defines the cuisine (and the great fruit, herbal or medicinal flavored rice wine) of Highway 4 in Hanoi as well. All this can be had at reasonable prices, in a pleasant environment that evokes the highlands.
Recommended dishes: Nem Cá, or famous Highway 4 spring rolls with fried catfish and wasabi soy dipping sauce. But tell them to go light on the mayo inside the rolls.
Grilled chicken with lemon leaves (Gà Nương Lá Chanh) and the Bò Xào Dưa Chua (beef sautéed with local pickled mustard greens—translated as sauerkraut but it’s quite different).
A unique and wonderfully textured green that’s only available seasonally is Hoa Thien Lý Xào (sautéed Thien Ly vegetable/flower).
For seafood, try the soft shell crab roasted with Tamarind or Salt (Cua Dong Rang Me/Muoi) and Ca Kho To (fish simmered in clay pot). Also good: Green mango (Xoài Xanh) marinated with salt and chili; and for the pork lover—Thịt Kho Tộ (pork carmelized in clay pot with coconut—tourist places tend to use lean sliced pork, while more traditional places like Hwy 4 will use pork belly). Try the sampler set of their Son Tinh liquor.
5 Hang Tre, just east of the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake. For more restaurant recommendations (and travel itineraries and other great tips) go to www.savourasia.com - they really throw themselves into eating in Asia, and especially Hanoi!
Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi epic broke the cinematic mould with its bleak depiction of early 21st Century urban dystopia. But Blade Runner is already with us. Drive through Shanghai some night after a cloudburst; take one of its elevated highways and soar above the streets below. With the neon fireworks of distant skscrapers reflected in the wet tarmac, you'll see what I mean.
Available on DVD across Europe and North America, yet strangely hard to find in Shanghai's pirate DVD stores. "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain..."
Otherwise known as “soup dumplings”, these are a Shanghai speciality. They can be found sold cheaply on the street either fried or steamed, and also at some Shanghainese restaurants. Watch out on your first bite though: unfortunate first-timers often get a squirt of scalding liquid on their clothing and lose the lining from the roof of their mouths.
Street stalls and restaurants
One of Shanghai's many shopping streets, Nanjing Lu is the one where everyone heads first. It caters for a mainly Chinese clientele rather than tourists or expats, and so is a good place to watch the Shanghainese at play. There's also an open-area stage for live music and promotions. Watch out, though: despite this being a pedestrian area, don't get run over by the toy-town trains that chug up and down the street.
Metro Line 2 travels along the length of the street: best stops to use are Henan Zhong Lu and People's Square.
Follow the smoke and you'll soon find one - a man with a basic charcoal grill turning over a bunch of sticks with cubed lamb. A staple street food it's cheap and safe, if a little fatty. A lot of the vendors are ethnic Uyghurs from the far west of China, who seem to have cornered the market in this trade.
Anywhere. Follow your nose.
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