Either this one was really that good or I really was just that hungry. Perhaps in the end the great taste was driven by a bit of both. In any case, I really did enjoy this street food breakfast served up alongside average Hanoians starting their day.
This food stand sprouts out of the sidewalk in front of 140 Yen Phu near Hanoi’s Tay Ho neighborhood. Something I love about Vietnam is the multipurpose uses for a small strip of real estate in Vietnam as this joint is a food stand by dawn’s early light and then a dress shop by day. I can only imagine what it converts into at night.
Lowering myself onto miniscule stool smaller than a booster chair at a fast food joint in America started the breakfast adventure. Within seconds a bowl of sticky rice topped with perfectly moist roast pork added wisps of steam to the already moist morning air. And yes, I do fully realize the word “sticky” may seem overkill as sticky rice is how most rice arrives tableside in Asia. Actual sticky rice Vietnamese style is a mass of white grains of a different sort.
Each individual piece of rice has a somewhat waxy texture and adheres firmly to its friends. In other words, this is more like a ball of rice than the individual pieces we eat back home. Sticky rice makes such a nice neutral palate upon which all the flavors are piled.
The grey xá xíu or roast pork with orangish edges was just so soft and slightly sweet. I could have eaten a pound of this without even thinking twice. A giant tableside jar of unripe mango pickled with hot peppers added some contrasting tart and spicy crunch. Eating them together launched a flavor journey to a very pleasant place. Adding a bite of sticky rice to the mix makes it just that much better. I experimented with a sprinkling of soy sauce and oh man. Normally I don’t like anything salty, but this one now had it all.
The sticky rice lady has several more varieties of toppings. I can’t wait for my next trip to Hanoi.