Nem Chua Ran – The soul of street food in Hanoi

Nga Do
It’s easy to satisfy your stomach when you are traveling in Hanoi, one of the most popular cities in Vietnam for cuisine.

Just look out for the street vendors stopping at the side of the road or walking on the alleys in Hanoi, you can find many kinds of food. 

According to the votes of some foreign travel magazines, Hanoi named among top 10 cities that own the most attractive street food in Asia. When visiting Hanoi, you can have a chance to enjoy many kinds of foods, including sweet soup at Dao Duy Tu Street, pho cuon (fresh spring scroll) at Ngu Xa, seafood at Cau Go Street. This culinary diversity creates a fascinating charm to a lot of foreigners.

When it comes to street food in Hanoi, you can’t miss nem chua ran (fried fermented pork roll) in Tam Thuong alley, Hang Bong Street. Despite being short, the alley houses nearly ten stores that sell nem chua ran – this snack food makes Tam Thuong alley a brand.

Nem chua ran brings brand for Tam Thuong alley.

There is a typical street food with the familiar image of diners sitting on plastic chairs. Served in a more professional and Vietnamese way, nem chua ran is put in trays with a piece of banana leaf underneath, set up a table instead of setting a chair. Nem chua ran is usually accompanies by potato chips, jicama or mango. A tray with 10 nem chua ran pieces costs you about US$2.

Nem chua ran is not sour regardless how it’s called (chua means sour). While “ran” reflects the deep-frying process, “nem chua” is a sausage which has the same ingredients but an acidic taste from fermentation.

Hanoians had already been crazy about the raw version before chefs started to experiment with the frying pan. They ended up using the pre-fermenting sausages for better texture and taste but keep the name for the fame.

Crispy outside but tender inside, nem chua ran is a good catalyst for a reunion with friends, all year round, but preferably in cool or chilly weather.

When mentioning ancient alleys of Hanoi, it will be so regretful if the Tam Thuong is missed on the list. Starting from 38 Hang Bong Street, this 800-meter-long alley meets the Yen Thai alley at its end and then ends at 91 Hang Dieu Street which is opposite to Hang Da market.

Nowadays, many alleys of Hanoi have become more crowded, but the Tam Thuong alley still keeps for itself the old definition. There, one can see the familiar images such as banian tree, water wells, yard of communal house – symbol a traditional village in Vietnam.

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