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Hanoi alley eatery serves Swedish royalty


am thuc viet nam

Swedish Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree got an authentic Vietnamese street eating experience in Hanoi this week.

Princess Desiree and her husband sat on plastic chairs and enjoyed a serving of southern beef noodles at an eatery in Alley 35, Kim Ma Thuong Street, Ba Dinh District. 
Its owners, Tran Minh Cuong and Dao Thanh Thuy, said the southern Vietnam vermicelli with grilled beef or bun bo nam bo has been served there for a decade.

Besides the eatery’s mainstay, which is grilled marinated beef, the dish the Swedish royal couple had also features some fresh vegetables like Vietnamese basil, lettuce and some pickled carrots. The dish is best enjoyed with a bowl of fish sauce with some crispy fried shallots that adds both taste and aroma.

Cuong said that a week before the princess came to the stall, the Swedish embassy staff had passed by and set up two separate table rows for the Swedish delegation to have lunch. Otherwise, the shop still functioned like any normal working day during the visit.

The crown princess, following the owner’s instructions, squeezed some lemon juice and a bit of chili sauce to her dish before diving in. She showed herself very adept at using chopsticks.

The Swedish princess was in Vietnam May 6-8 to mark the 50th anniversary diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The eatery, which offers parking space in its front yard, is popular among locals. Besides the beef noodle dish, it also serves bun thang and pho.

Bun thang is a special kind of noodle soup comprised of rice vermicelli, thinly sliced chicken pieces, omelet, Vietnamese ham, mushrooms, and chopped fresh herbs. Pho noodle soup, with chicken or beef slices, is an iconic street dish in Vietnam.

The shop opens from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day.

The Swedish princess’s visit continues a recent tradition of foreign VIPs trying Vietnamese street food.

Former US President Barack Obama had a beer and a bowl of bun cha at an eatery in Hanoi along with the late celebrity chef Antony Bourdain, while Canadian Prime Minister enjoyed a cup of coffee on a Saigon sidewalk. Da Nang had Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull enjoying a banh mi at a local shop.

A bun cha is a big bowl of savory, sweet and sour fish sauce with meatballs and thick pork slices served with a plate of rice vermicelli. Banh mi is a kind of sandwich that consists of a Vietnamese single-serving baguette filled with various savory ingredients.

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