My lunch break at work is a quick-fire one hour on most days. No time for a dilly-dally over a menu anywhere, that's for sure. I've normally got to slot in ten minutes of last minute prep somewhere in the hour, so I'm after 'wham-bam-thankyou-mam' kind of dining.
Thankfully, there's no shortage of one dish wonder eateries around the Hang Thuyen, Lo Duc, Le Van Huu intersections. One such place delivers a fine version of bun ca, a fish and noodle soup that has variations all over the country, my favourite being in the south-central coastal city of Nha Trang.
What seems like a standard eating space for Hanoi - a narrow single-fronted shop which goes deep into the family living space - is no different here. There's seating for about 25 punters, 30 at a cramp! Also like other Hanoi eateries, if they're swinging from the rafters inside, tables are flung on the footpath outside. Here, patrons are directed to sit at tables along the wall of the neighbouring IT company. When this 'al fresco' dining area is fully occupied, as it was on the day of my visit, do not fear! I was diverted across the street into the concrete shell of what used to be an old furniture showroom. I'm not sure what happens when that fills up?
Fish swim in this soup in two forms: strong, occasionally rubbery bite-size fish cakes and crunchy bits of boneless snakehead fish. More of the latter in my bowl next time, please ma'am.