West Lake lotus tea
West Lake lotus tea.
One of the most outstanding specialties from Hanoi’s West Lake is the lotus tea, an exceptional type of tea embalmed with the fragrance of West Lake lotus flower. The premium green tea from Thai Nguyen province combined with the remarkable scent of lotus petals of West Lake delivers a fragrant yet comfortable bitter drink.
After being picked up in early morning, the particles on the anthers of the flowers also known as “lotus rice” was quickly separated. Milky-white grains of lotus rice which are big and plump like “nep cai hoa vang” – a special variety of sticky rice of high quality and special flavor, are mixed with dried green tea and then stored in a closed jar for one or two days. When the grains of lotus rice dry up and the juiceless tea leaves absorb entirely the lotus fragrance, the artisan smoke the tea in charcoal or water boiled in a bain-marie.
After being marinated for the first time, the grains of lotus rice will be removed from the tea and replaced with fresh ones. The process is repeated nine times for one kilogram of tea during 27 day and night. Especially, after the final stage of drying, West Lake lotus-scented tea are sieved carefully and packaged as well as stored in the traditional way: putting into glass bottles boiled and exposing to the sun, then used melted wax to cover the mouth of the bottle for long-term storage.
The formula of storing and drying tea are the decisive factor and only the veteran tea-makers in West Lake area know how to scent the tea with lotus rice perfectly.
West Lake Shrimp Cake
West Lake Shrimp Cake.
Talking about West Lake cuisine, it can’t help mentioning shrimp cake. This is a specialty that made the reputation of the lake. Derived from a rustic dish, West Lake shrimp cake has become a valuable delicacy of Hanoi capital. Located at No. 1 Thanh Nien street is a long-lasting famous restaurant with cake made from shrimp caught in the lake.
Shrimp cakes must be served when they are still hot to enjoy the crispy shrimps. It is also recommended to eat the dish with pickles, some raw vegetables and the sauce that has all the basic flavors of sour, spicy, salty and sweet.
Steamed clear tapioca cake
“Banh bot loc” (Steamed clear tapioca cake).
The long-lasting shop selling “banh bot loc” (steamed clear tapioca cake) at No. 198 Thuy Khue street is a must-visit destination when wandering around the West Lake. This is where you taste the best “banh bot loc” in Hanoi. Soft and sweet cakes are immersed in the special sauce creating a cake shop of distinction.
Pyramidal rice dumpling of “Co Hoa Beo”
Pyramidal rice dumpling of “Co Hoa Beo”.
“Banh gio” or pyramidal rice dumpling of Ms. Hoa is exceptionally delicious with soft cover, the fragrant of glutinous rice, stuffing made of lean meat of pork’s shoulder chopped together with “moc nhi” (wood ear fungus) and nam huong (thin-top mushroom). The stall is near Ly Tu Trong flower garden, the intersection of Thanh Nien road with Thuy Khue street. In spite of just a small eating place, it’s always crowded. Regular guests named the stall after the owner’s nickname that is “Co Hoa Beo” (Ms. Fat Hoa ).
“Ba Gia” snail stall
“Ba Gia” snail stall.
Dishes made of snails are the must-try specialties when coming to West Lake. “Ba Gia” (the Old Woman) snail stall is one of the best and most well-known long-lasting snail shops. Despite of being small shop behind the Chu Van An primary school, located in a part of Thuy Khue street on the West Lake side, it’s always packed with customers, especially pupils from the schools nearby.
“Ba Gia” stall is a rustic snail stall with familiar dishes such as: boiled snails, baby quail eggs, steamed clams, fried fermented pork roll, french fries, among other stuff. Particularly, large edible snails steamed with lemon leaves is the best specialty as the snails are kept crispy with soft and fatty taste. Especially, the sauce is elaborately mixed with many ingredients such as ginger, citronella, chilli, kumquat, lime leaves and snail soup tomake indescribably delicious taste. In order to keep the traditional rustic flavor, the dish is served along with pickled figs and star-fruits with flavors of acrid and sour.