I met Skip and Gabi, two American expats currently living and working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, through Volunteers in Asia two years ago. The last time we saw each other was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the end of 2010 so there was lots to catch up on and talk about. Hanoi can really be hit or miss when it comes to the combination of restaurant atmosphere, food deliciousness, and noise levels, so I decided not to take any chances and bring Skip and Gabi to Lá, my favorite restaurant in all of Vietnam. It’s not the most Vietnamese place ever but at the same time it’s not the most Western place ever either. In terms of cuisine it’s a perfect balance between the two and the food, as I’ve mentioned countless times, is always excellently prepared. To this day I have never had a single bad meal at Lá and plan to continue bringing visitors to Hanoi there without any hesitation. I’m so happy I was able to spend time with my friends last night after having not seen them for so long.
I may have found one of my favorite glasses of tea in Hanoi, and it’s all because of the marvelous ice that’s served with drinks at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Lake View. Highlands Coffee treats cold teas like an afterthought and gives customers a cup of scalding hot tea with a few morsels of ice on the side to cool it down. The same goes for most tea and coffee shops ’round these parts, as well. Ice in ice tea isn’t given priority, and that makes me sad. The reason I love the tiny bites of ice below is because they can be packed very densely into a cup and refuse to melt. After an hour or so of chatting with my pal the ice was still there. That’s how iced tea should be done, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Lake View gets it perfectly right. The atmosphere of the place wasn’t as nice as that of OCHÂO’s, but the drink in and of itself was splendid.