05 2014 Dec

Here’s the typical itinerary for a Sapa getaway, a three-night two-day stay. This means you take an overnight train to Sapa, do a hike during the day, stay in a hotel at night, do a hike the next day, and come back on an overnight train. Basically, you have two full days with really one night of rest in a hotel. Sounds grueling doesn’t it? Well, it was and it was well worth it. The cost was the only thing I’d question, $145/person.

Anyways, we had time to kill before boarding the train so we went to Lotte Center. This towering mall / hotel / mart catered to Koreans. If you don’t know, Korea has invested a lot into Vietnam. It’s very common for Korean business people and tourists to come to Vietnam. So much that there are stores like this popping up throughout the country. This one in particular opened up recently in September. Of course, we were there for shopping. Shopping that turned to eating on the ninth floor.

I saw crab hot pot at Thai Express. Even though it looked good, I didn’t want a Thai version so we ended up at Ngon Ngon Restaurant.

It was a nice restaurant and had two private rooms for large parties. There weren’t too many people in there. So it was pretty surprising why service was so bad. There were three servers for two tables. I had asked for a drink several times before I got one. I spoke to more than one person about it. Odd. Maybe it was because we sat at the window and they manned the front which was pretty far down the restaurant. Still no excuse.

Ngon Ngon Restaurant
Lotte Center
54 Lieu Giai Street
Hanoi, Vietnam

Verdict: Ignoring the service, the food here was a safe bet from having street food. Yet, I’d say find a better place. The taste here were only okay.

Lau Cua @Ngon Ngon

I was disappointed this crab hot pot didn't include a whole crab. Instead it was minced crab similar to what you find in bun rieu. But I have to say, overall it wasn't bad. The cuts of meat were fresh, pork and beef. The meat and fish balls I couldn't complain about either. You cook it in the tom yum like broth and things tasted fine. Can't say we were hated our meal. Can't say we loved it either. I really regret not having crab hot pot out on the street next to our hotel. This was just too safe.

Ox Impressions: 

Boarding The King Express

We took the King Express to Sapa. It was a four person cabin which departed around 8pm and arrived in Lo Chai at about 6am. Not the most comfortable ride when you're equipped with a flimsy mattress, a blanket, and a flat pillow. The ride was quite jostling and you stop frequently. In reality, the train ride could take about two hours if it went straight there. Luckily, our cabin came with a free bottle of water and good company. Always a plus when you have fun Aussies sharing the pain with you.

Hot Pot Sides @Ngon Ngon

Here's the sides that came with our hot pot. Your average assortment minus the shitake mushrooms. I guess the banana blossom takes its place.

The OxPosted December 5, 2014 By the hungry ox


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