Mark Lowerson has lived in Hanoi since 2002. Together with his partner, Tu, he runs Street Eats Hanoi.
What change have you seen in Hanoi’s culinary scene since you arrived?
At the level that I tend to roll in – street food – there hasn’t been much change at all. I’m still eating at some of the same vendors I discovered during my first year here. Pho is still pho, bun cha is still bun cha and, as far as Hanoians are concerned, you’d better not mess with it!
Hanoi is a city of seasons. What’s your favourite summer dish and what do you love to eat during winter?
Dishes don’t actually change that much according to season. People are just as likely to be chowing down on a steaming bowl of pho in 38°C heat as they are in 8°C cold. I’ve adapted. One dish I do love in the winter is called banh gio, a kind of ugly wobbling mess of tapioca and rice flour at the core of which is minced pork, wood-ear fungus and shallot all steamed in either a banana or ‘dong’ leaf and liberally doused in hot sauce. It’s fabulous winter comfort food.
The city is best known for its beef pho, but where do you head for the chicken variety?
I have a few ‘go-to’ chicken pho houses in Hanoi. One is just north of the Old Quarter near the old water tower at 34 Quan Thanh.
What has been your most recent and enjoyable food discovery?
Recently, we discovered a fantastic chicken salad (nom ga) vendor in the Old Quarter who’s been there for 20 years. We thought we just about knew the street food in that part of town like the back of our hands. Sometimes it’s about being in a certain street at a certain time of day.