Only my most favorite cats in the world — I’m not sure if it’s a quality specific to their breed (Oriental Shorthair) but it’s really saying something for me to like a cat so much as I’m a proclaimed dog person. Haha. Basically these cats have their sleepy periods where they can lay peacefully on my lap which is all I really ask for in a pet. Once they awake from their slumber they go from 0-60 and really know how to play without clawing anyone. It’s hard to tell from the video but these cats are full grown yet half the size of a normal cat. Perfect for picking up spontaneously, lol.
Weird stuff in Hanoi — okay, maybe not that strange but still.
We actually took two flights, one from Hanoi to Bangkok and Bangkok to Sydney. This happened to be the most comfortable flights I’ve ever flown and I will detail why.
After we checked in, our tickets allowed us to chill out in the lounge before boarding. Granting us free food and drinks… you can bet I ran to check out the food. Pad Thai, chicken curry, sushi, cereal, an array of fruit, salads, and more! I was too busy eating to take picture. I also tried a Birds Nest drink for the first time (made with the snow mushroom). It had a very light sweet flavor, but nothing I could differentiate or compare to anything I’ve had before besides sugar water. Apparently there are health benefits, but whatever.
We were given piping hot towels on a tray – Really nice since I was sweating so much from thinking were were gonna miss said flight. Haha, but I washed my hands and wiped my brow. A nice gentleman came by asking if we’d like any reading material, offering all the newspapers and magazines. I took a Vogue (he warned me it was in Thai, I didn’t care). And as soon as we could grab a stewardess, decided to start with some champagne, why not! Later a stewardess came by to show us the menu. Considering this was only an hour and a half flight I was really stoked to be getting another meal… until I realized I was still full from the little bit I ate in the lounge prior to boarding, LOL. Kenny finished his plate and I did try all of my components. This chicken curry and rice was deliciousssssssss! Rice perfectly done and sticky, chicken well seasoned and super juicy. Tangy papaya salad with pork on the side and a coconut custard with pumpkin for dessert <<< YUM! I really love airplane food but this is NOT your average plate.
We got off in Bangkok and went through security again so we could take full advantage of the next lounge we could get into. Haha. It seems like I’ve eaten about 4 meals in the past 2 hours but who cares, it’s free right? This lounge had a way fancier set up and was quite busy as a flight was to depart around 1:30 am. We got in there around 11 pm. There were spicy ramen, chicken and shrimp wonton soup, vegetable spring rolls (I ate 10 of these with chili sauce), tom yum wraps, chicken puffs, mushroom quiche, three kinds of cake rolls (coffee, fruit, chocolate), pastries, papaya and watermelon. I’m pretty sure people were watching me eat, some ladies were curious, the Chinese had wide eyes. Yeah, okay.
Lounge #2. Yes we went into another lounge because it opened earlier (5:15 am) for breakfast! Again, taking advantage of a nice spot to hang out before we catch our next flight. Comfy chair, chargers, wifi and all that jazz. No boarding announcements here! Really relaxing! The breakfast menu was a little different – Offering hard boiled eggs, ham, steamed buns, breakfast pastries, salad bar, more fruit. I tried a cafe latte and got some weird milk bitter coffee thing from the machine. Later it looked like a few people were trying to fix it so I’m not sure what I actually got. Lol.
Next we boarded our flight and were guided UPSTAIRS to our section. We sat down to find toiletry bags, fluffy pillow and blankets. I was kind of cold somehow so I instantly ripped mine open and got cozy for the ride. Inside the bag was body lotion, all natural chapstick, eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash, comfort socks, and terrycloth slippers for lounging, along with noise cancelling headphones. In the few minutes before we even took off we discovered that our seats (like our previous flight) fully reclined so you could sleep flat. Also have your legs our like on a lazy boy and turn on the MASSAGE feature in your chair which was also adjustable! The remote popped out of the arm and you could listen to all kinds of music or choose from some movies. I ended up watching Trolls, Argo, and playing some word scramble game.
Kenny had the idea to make mimosas so I asked for OJ and the most expensive champagne. I waited till they left before I completely sloshed the two together for my mimosa. Haha.
BRUNCH time! I always, always love fruit. This was apple, dragonfruit, papaya, and pineapple with a vanilla yogurt on the side with some butter for hot rolls. I was excited to see the mini strawberry jelly (just as cute as their mini salt and pepper shakers) lol. After I was done with my fruit the stewardess brought out the EGGS BENEDICT. My favorite breakfast, it combines everything good – saucy egg, salty meat, crunch to soak up the hollandaise. Yum. Behind that, which is hard to see in the picture is some sautéed asparagus. That was so dang good and I’ve never seen such cute asparagus.
DINNER iS SERVED!!! By far my most memorable airplane meal… I mean, 3 courses?!?!? Yes. Yes. Yes. I kinda forgot what I had ordered because the stewardess had come by while I was in and out of sleep and just kinda pointed to something. Thankfully it was the right something! First course was a smoked salmon with romaine lettuce and mango lemon basil cream. It was really tasty and refreshing. If this had been the meal itself I would’ve been just fine here. But no…
HALLELUJAH – Here is THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN ON AN AIRPLANE! Duck confit with garlic confit and juice, caramelized pumpkin, buttered needle beans, with parmesan. Duck… perfectly cooked. Moist, juicy… the brown garlic sauce soooo savory and I dipped everything in it. The pumpkins sitting in the garlic… just perfect. If I knew anything about preparing duck I would try to recreate this asap. Don’t mind my strawberry jam that I scooped out of the cute little containers because I wanted them. Also had some jelly and butter with my rolls because I felt like it.
This seemed very Danish (I’m actually not sure of the origin, just that we did this everyday in Denmark)! After dinner I was asked if I wanted the fruit and cheese course. Yes. So, I was brought my own personal brie and baked strawberries which taste just like gummy snacks but are all natural. Ah, Thai airways you will have me dreaming of another flight!
TRAVEL WITH US, video below 🙂
Anddddd a video I forgot to post earlier:
I’ve tried macarons everywhere I can get my hands on them in Portland, there are some good but majority aren’t… EARLIER MACARON POST .
While abroad I’ve made it a point to find Laduree and Pierre Herme– I’ve had Laduree on the Champs-Elysees, Switzerland, London etc. I know that there are a lot more to try but these were at the top of my list for best, both had the right consistency, amazing flavor combinations and presentation. There was also that time, a crazy 24 hours in which I made 3 batches of macarons by hand (see here!), in which I ended up with a hundred coconut and peanut butter macarons :*) I feel like now I really understand the intricasies of such a small and complicated pastry.
When purchasing macarons I always look at how they are stored and displayed. Refrigeration increases their lifetime to about 3-5 days but obviously by the 5th day it won’t be as great as the fresher one. I’ve seen that Costco is selling them now and assume that whatever is preserving these will make it quite unlike a real macaron in texture (I would love to know if anyone has tried these, comment below!)
Here in Hanoi there are some local French bakeries and a few offer some pretty looking macarons. Sadly these turned out to be the worst I’ve ever had, from a place called Salsa (go figure) based on their oddly small size and outside texture as crunchy as a cookie. The inside texture was so hard that it took me a few tries to get my teeth through the middle. The more commonly buttercream middle was closer to the likes of cement, haha. I should’ve taken pictures but it was so crumbly I would have lost the thing before finding my camera. I also could discern no recognizable flavor of any kind. It was red? If I have to guess that is a really bad sign. Discouraged by that incident I decided to stop searching for those here.
Anyways, Kenny surprised me with lunch and DESSERT from Dean & Deluca. I was really excited because these looked amazing! Vibrant colors (one was glittering for goodness sakes) consistent size and fresh appearance. I was starving but I actually waited till after lunch to dig in. (Lunch was wagyu beef lasagna and a passionfruit drink)
The first one I tried was this tye-dye green and red one which I guessed correctly after a bite: pistachio and raspberry! I appreciate that they put two traditional flavors together in a really nice way, the real tartness and crunch of raspberry with the more mild nutty pistachio.
Next I tried the most dazzling one — This one was tougher for me to describe because it was pear and chili! I didn’t notice any heat from it but I will admit that it takes a lot to for me to judge something as spicy.
This one looked odd to me by its color and my visual guess was maybe caramel or another pistachio. One small bite and wow… BANANA crunch! The filling was thick with real banana and taste that packed a punch. It was truly enjoyable to have such a legit banana flavor in a macaron no less, I didn’t even think that was possible.
This one is, as you probably guessed – strawberry but technically Strawberry Jam if you could see the inside and taste the real fruit in this! Somehow the macaron still retained its perfectly light and soft outer shell with a seedy sweet red filling. No sogginess or staleness at all. So impressed! I think I let out an exclamation as I ate this because it was so surprising. It wasn’t a demure and coy flavor, but just as the banana one had that wow factor.
So, what am I saying now? These are a bang for your buck and quite possibly a lot more accessible than Laduree. Give them a try I think they are quite well done, American take on French macarons.
While most people go home for Tet, we decided to get away to Bangkok and explore some more. We had a few missions: check out the night markets, pick up some clothes for Australia, barber shop for Ken, manicure for myself, workout and of course trying a lot more food!
Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong
It was our last day in Hong Kong and we hadn’t gotten enough of their amazing dim sum. We figured we’d have just enough time to walk there, get in, eat, walk back and make it to the airport in time to catch our flight to Vietnam. By the time we walked there, it was about 10 minutes to opening time and there was already quite a line. Typical.
They passed out some menus so we could mark off what we wanted.
It was no problem, as soon as the garage gates started rolling up the people ran in and filled up the empty seats. We grabbed a tiny table without thinking, thankfully securing our place. I noticed tea cups and bowls preset on the table and everyone was using their hot tea to clean these with their napkins. I did the same, except knocking over my cup and spilling tons of hot tea all over the table and myself!
We handed them our menu only to have them return and hand us a green menu, saying the blue one was outdated or something. Lol. So once again we mark off what we want. Not too much later the food quickly starts pouring out of the kitchen. We ordered the Baked bun with BBQ pork, pan fried coconut custard cake, steamed pork dumplings with shrimp, vermicelli roll stuffed with pork, and steamed rice with beef and pan fried egg!
This last dish was the coolest thing I ate. I can’t figure it out and I do not know how they did it. It wasn’t simple cuts of meat, rather ground or pounded meat that was slightly breaded with a heavenly soft texture and really good sauce over the whole thing.
The baked bun with BBQ pork was unlike any I’d had before. The outside bun was almost like a candy shell, sugared on top with savory pork. It was a nice change from all the BBQ steam buns I’ve had in my life. Pan fried coconut custard cake came out in the middle of our dining, but I didn’t mind the sweet break. It was super moist and smelled wonderful — of course I love anything coconut… The vermicelli roll stuffed with pork is something I’ve enjoyed in America but done a little differently. The vermicelli here is super gelatinous! I love that texture though and the umami of shoyu and green onion with pork… Mmmmm!
We were about done and ready to pay so we could get off to the airport. I was going to pay with my card when I realized that they probably only accepted cash. Kenny had some cash but was just a couple dollars short… WHOOPS. He ran out to find an atm which actually turned into quite an ordeal. I stood by the register for awhile waiting… About 15 minutes until they suggested that I take a seat at a table, dining with an old lady who was eating alone. Haha. I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, especially when she started cleaning her bowl with tea and knocked it over spilling it everywhere just as I did! LOL.
I was thinking about how far Kenny might have to go to find an ATM. The area of this restaurant wasn’t exactly an urban spot, and he actually had to run over a mile back towards our place to find a place to take out some cash. I almost threw all the money I had and ditched the place in fear of not making our flight but just when I was about to get desperate I saw Kenny return 🙂
Not bad. $14 for a legit Michelin star meal. Amazing really.
This is by no means a showcase of the most authentic Hanoi dishes, just my favorite places that we go back to for good food… fresh, affordable, quality food – ESPECIALLY if you’re missing anything familiar from home!
Joma Bakery — With a few locations you shouldn’t miss it — Healthy breakfast and lunch options, a few that I’ve tried (Hummus plate, turkey sandwich, chicken pesto sandwich, Philly cheesesteak and all of these come with a side salad!) After your meal check out the desserts! They have an amazing Nanaimo bar which is a 3-layer bar with chocolate base and coconut in the middle with chocolate on top. Along with actual brownies, cinnamon rolls, cookies, chocolate croissants and coffee you really can’t go wrong.
O’douceurs French Pastry and Bakery – Chocolate-y brownies, to die for truffles and yummy fruit tarts…Yes, I’ve tried them all
Namaste Hanoi – My first meal in Hanoi, quite the experience. The owner will help to navigate the extensive menu, asking you a few questions and writing down numbers on your table corresponding to dishes that he suggests you consider. He was definitely spot on with our meal!
The Republic – an Aussie bar with the best (really large portion) burgers in town (spendier but it is a nice enough place, the mixed drinks are okay, beer probably better lol). Also the wedge French fries are amazingggggg
Ca Cha Va Long – hailed as the oldest restaurant in Hanoi (circa 1871), they serve one dish and it is 170k VND. It is a catfish fried at your table in tumeric with a bunch of fresh greens like dill and leak. Totally worth it.
Sesame – Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant, not always the easiest thing to find but it does exist 🙂 Fresh and delicious food and lunch sets for only 60k VND! This place has lunch hours from around 10-2 and dinner from 5-9 or so. We tried the mushroom patties and pineapple cake — yummy!
Salt n’ Lime – This is the place to go if you are missing Mexican food, or dare I say Chipotle? This is what fresh and natural Mexican food should be and I believe once home you would actually miss the big burritos here! I know I will–They have a range of salsas to choose from and they are all tasty — The corn salsa, verde, roja, and garlic are the ones I keep returning to. No joke I crave these burritos DAILY!
Gelato Italia – The ONLY gelato in town, and it is wonderful! Nice flavors, extra creamy as gelato should be and they have sorbet options as well. We tried coconut, valentine (strawberries and cream), and rum raisin. It was a real treat enjoying such a good gelato outside of Italy.
Annam Gourmet Market – Import goodies and a bakery that serves pretty good macarons! (Also get the Salt&Pepper potato chips, so worth it) — They also have almond milk which is hard to find and other fun drinks to try. On the second floor going up the staircase they have things with reduced prices and we were able to get some good chocolate for half off!
May Taste – Lunch specials at only 60K VND that include drinks and dessert (bananas)! You can’t beat the amount (I wasn’t able to finish my meal) or quality of food for that price… they also have a delish pineapple smoothie
Cong Caphe – For those with caffeine running through their veins try a milder version of Vietnamese coffee with their coconut slush coffee combo only 45k VND
Japanese Sweets – A chain found in most “malls” here. They have mochi filled with ice cream and even mochi donuts (which I was told would take 20 minutes to make). I got a coconut cream mochi instead which was nice and not super sweet!
Pepperonis – Haha. We found this spot wandering late at night. Cheap pizzas, good drinks (this one on the left was called “Tropical” turned out to be a plain yogurt with ice mix 😛 The pina colada was relish as well! If you want a little more bang for your buck head to Dominoes (way better than the Pizza Hut’s I’ve encountered in Asia) and they give you dipping sauces for your pizza without asking for it or paying extra —
Starbucks – I’ve been surprised. Besides free wifi, they have different (better even?) food/juices/pastries than in America. In the States I would go there for an egg white breakfast sandwich or the egg white wrap. The menu never changed but here there’s been quiche, chorizo pizza, wraps and specialty drinks that are really good (and I don’t go to Starbucks often). Below is the sesame crunch frappe and a warmed blueberry muffin, mmmm