Hanoi: Asia’s Next Best Food City

Hanoi: Asia’s Next Best Food City 


By : Ian Ocampo Flora


IF THERE was a competition to name the best food city in Asia through popular votes, I would, without any hint of doubt, rabidly and wholeheartedly campaign for Hanoi for such a worthy title.

Hanoi, capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city, deserves the title for so many reasons. For one, the exchange rate (100 US dollars equals roughly 2,228,660.57) is so fabulous in Vietnam that you have enough purchasing power to dine even in the most posh restaurants and hotels in the city. Second, the food is so accessible and so readily available that dining is always a breeze. All you need to do is to step out of your hotel and there will surely be a food joint within a ten meter radius. The city is a virtual eating mecca!

Food outside Hanoi is even more cheaper, the people more friendlier, less tourists and the culture more intact but, for starters, it would be wise to start your gastronomic adventure at Hanoi’s Old Quarter and go off-the-beaten-path later in your trip.

My trip to Hanoi was a well-organized tour sponsored by those generous guys from Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. Inc. (PMFTC). It was a prize tour for the recent 9th Brightleaf Journalism Awards where I won one of the top categories. I do not usually fancy organized tours and I would rather prefer spontaneous travel itineraries but no food enthusiast in his right mind would pass on a tour, not just of Hanoi’s historic places, but also of its gastronomic delights.

The PMFTC guys know how to dine well and in style. During almost a week’s stay we were chauffeured to the best restaurants and eating places in Hanoi. But the best and most memorable, to my mind, is the dinner at Wild Lotus Restaurant. Located just south of Hoan Kiem District, Wild Lotus exudes elegance and a sense of sophisticated dining. Here Vietnamese food is presented in the most delectable fashion. It’s Fresh Seafood Spring Roll, Fried Banana Served with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Lemongrass Chicken are fantastic. But if you have a more adventurous palate, you can hit the streets for some of Hanoi’s basic food fare of native local delicacies and mutations of French and Vietnamese cuisines. The history of Vietnamese gastronomy has close and somewhat bittersweet ties to its colonial French masters. In fact, Hanoi is considered as the center of Franco-Vietnamese cooking in Vietnam.

Eating publicly in Hanoi, like anywhere else in Vietnam, involves sitting on small plastic stools along small tables lined near the streets in front of food stalls. It is an ephemeral experience of dining with the city’s sights and sounds just cruising in around you. Scooters would regularly pass by along with street food hawkers, locals and tourists.

During my trip I made a mental note to not forget to try that quintessential Vietnamese equivalent to a monster burger- the bánh mì. It is a pure symphony of flavors wrapped inside a French baguette.

Imagine how the stuffing of pâté, mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeños and gobs of cold cuts fit into one bread. Also, it was be nice to have a classic Vietnamese noodle soup pho to soften the palate while devouring the bánh mì.

Nighttime dining and drinking in Hanoi is fantastic with a wide selection of locally produced draft beer. Each beer sold at every stall or food front is unique. There is no single standard taste and the cost is fantastic at around $.75 cents per mug. There are also locally produced commercial beer brands but are rather expensive compared to the home-brewed ones.

On my last night in Hanoi, I spent the night away with a plate of bún cha, sizzling pork meat, and wasted myself with home-brewed Vietnamese beer musing on the fact that Vietnam is indeed one of the best food cities in Asia.

For comments, suggestions, violent reactions, invites, hate mails, indignant rebuttals and what-have-you email the author at ianocampoflora@yahoo.com or call 0920-964-9664.

10th Bright Leaf Awards Caravan Convenes Ilocos Media

10th Bright Leaf Awards caravan convenes Ilocos media


By : Miriam P. Aquino


VIGAN CITY, May 2 (PIA) – The Phillip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation Inc. (PMFTC Inc.) has opened the 10th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards this year.

Part of PMFT's massive information campaign is going around the country via a caravan, visiting 15 cities nationwide to bring the contest to a wider audience in celebrating its 10th year of recognizing the best and brightest in agricultural journalism.

Just recently, the Bright Leaf Secretariat visited the Ilocos, with the Luna Hotel in Vigan City as the chosen venue and invited media practitioners from different fields coming from the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and for the first time, from La Union.

Part of the activity was a basic feature-writing workshop with Tina Arceo-Dumlao of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Didet Santiago, the Communications Manager of PMFTC Inc. said that they would want to encourage more participation of media practitioners for said awards.

Launched in 2007 by PMFTC, Inc., Bright Leaf invites journalists from all over the Philippines to submit stories and photos for a chance to bring home the prize for the following categories: Agriculture Story of the Year, Agriculture Photo of the Year, Tobacco Story of the Year, Tobacco Photo of the Year, Best Television Program or Segment, Best Agriculture News Story National, Best Agriculture News Story Regional, Best Agriculture Feature Story National, Best Agriculture Feature Story Regional,  and The Oriental Leaf Award, a special award given to those who have won five consecutive Bright Leaf awards in any category.

The Oriental Leaf Awardees become part of the Bright Leaf Hall of Famer, an elite group of journalists, Santiago said.

Entry to said award is free and journalists or photographers may submit as many entries as they can for consideration but one particular entry may not be entered in more than one category.

All entries should be published in local publications and/or national dailies or aired either on radio or television from September 1, 2015 until August 31, 2016. Deadline for submission is on September 1, 2016.

Santiago also reminded that entries may be written in English or any Philippine dialect, provided they also submit English translations for such.

What’s more exciting, Santiago added, is that winners will receive cash prizes, premium item, and an all-expense-paid trip in an Asian country.

For more details, you can visit their website at www.thebrightleafawards.com.  (MCA/MPA/PIA1 La Union)