Top 4 exotic hotpots you should try in Hanoi

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Chatting and drinking with friends while surrounding a flavourful hotpot is a perfect choice particularly in the winter season. The most common types of hotpot involve beef and chicken, but following are top 4 exotic types of hotpot that offer a different taste of Hanoi.

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Snail hotpot on Truong Chinh street

Snail Hotpot

Besides the intriguingly hot and sour broth, snail hotpot also features some very interesting ingredients. There are snails, dumpling, wonton and roll, all made from the crawling creature. The hotpot also sees to the attendance of locally typical fried tofu, unripe banana and pork belly slices. They combine to make for an unmistakable dish of beautiful aroma and craving taste that is nowhere else to be found.

A pot will likely set the four of you back some 300,000vnd. It is definitely not cheap though, considering the thing is more or less a peasant’s food.

Mudskipper hotpot on Van Cao street

Mudskipper Hotpot on Van Cao street

The fish and indeed the hotpot are rather common in the south, but it has only recently made way into the northern dining table. Mudskipper hotpot has a stable devoted fan base, but it is rare to come by in Hanoi, and thus fairly strange to some. One of the few restaurants that carry such is Mrs. Sau’s Hotpot, at 65 Van Cao. Come no further for an authentic taste, because even the name screams a southern accent!

The distinguished feature of mudskipper hotpot is the presence of the exclusive river leaves (Aganonerion polymorphum – editor), which add a lightly bitter yet strangely aromatic taste. Its broth is a mouth-watering sweet and sour mix. The mudskippers themselves are small but have soft texture and very tender meat. The fish often soak up with broth nicely, which makes for a compelling crave. The must-have vegetables that come with this hotpot is water hyssop and sliced banana flower. Water spinach has also proven to be a nice addition.

Pigeon hotpot on Hoe Nhai street

Pigeon Hotpot

Nam Duong Tuu Quan is better known for its pigeon hotpot than for its selection of home-made liquors. As one may soon notice, a good number of patrons at 21 Hoe Nhai are female, which is very untypical for local pubs that are often crowded with overzealous male bingers. They do come for the birds!

The standing-out feature of pigeon hotpot is its broth of very liquid porridge, which has been long boiled with some birds earlier. Most other hotpots don’t use porridge, and that only makes for two birds with one stone. The hot steamy rice soup that has extracted that sweet essence of marrow, together with the white tender meat, blended in all the sense-awakening glory of various types of herb, vegetable and mushroom, make one wanting to swim in all that goodness, if it is not for the boiling bubbles that poke fun of the noses that can’t hold out far enough. Or at least wanting to gulp them all down!

Frog hotpot on Truc Bach street

The small road that veers out of the famous Thanh Nien, runs the shore of Truc Bach lake, in which it takes its namesake from, is widely known for its now all too famous specialty. There are numerous vendors around selling frog hotpot, but Ngân Béo at 43 Truc Bach is perhaps the most famous and also voted the best.

Frog Hotpot

Frog hotpot is rather on the spicy side. It is much more labor-intensive to make, as the animal has to be carefully butchered and only a few of the cuts qualify for the honor of the boiling pot. The meat is deeply marinated and, as typical with other frog dishes, later half cooked with bamboo sprouts. Diners will dip the ingredients in the pot. A fine frog hotpot has a rich, deep and spicy flavor. The aroma is nose bleeding and the meat can hardly ever overcook. It serves with water spinach and sliced bamboo sprouts. The frog hotpot is one of the hottest most sought after in the winter days for many Hanoians.

A typical pot for two will run around 350,000, which is relatively high compared to other types. But its strong flavor, exotic ingredients and fine taste will leave diners soon longing to come back.

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