Although we arrived in Hanoi with the presumption that we wouldn't be setting our sights towards seafood, that all changed when we wandered past one of the lively sidewalk seafood stalls. Walking briskly past one evening, Gavin started perusing the selection of mollusks and crustaceans and immediately sprouted wolf eyes. Conical shells, slippery bi-valves, and thorny, striped prawns can be a visual feast as well:
Although I am not the biggest clam-digger, my appetite was gnawing at my insides at this point and I was sucked in as well by the promise of succulent, barbecued tiger prawns and some vegetable fried rice. Gavin settled on tender, grilled squid smothered in tamarind sauce and two giant razor clams sauteed in lemongrass. I ordered the aforementioned tiger pawns. Unlike impromptu street-side seafood jams in Saigon, we remained bundled in layers of scarves and jackets while we ate.
We sipped Ha Noi beers, which tasted surprisingly much better than their southern cousin, Saigon. According to their ad campaign (and no marketing department would ever tell a fib), they are brewed using fresh spring water from the misty, rain-soaked mountains north of the city. Well, I am no expert, but if water source has any bearing on a beer's taste, I think that Saigon and Tiger must be both brewed with tepid, used bathwater.
We were pleasantly suprised at the immediately satisfying and fresh seafood meal. The unbelievably cheap bill didn't diminish our enthusiasm. Now, this is why we live in Vietnam.