Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

At the top of Xuan Dieu, Hanoi’s smog melts away. The sky is bluer, the air is lighter, and so am I, as I take off my facemask to breathe in the peaceful outskirts’ air. Suddenly, I get a whiff of something better than air — steak. I roll my bicycle onto The VinSteak’s kerb, eager to try the latest player in Hanoi’s competitive steak game.

If you get into heated debates over rosters, rotations, off-side traps and LBWs, don’t be ashamed, it’s fine — you couldn’t be in a better place right now.

Venture through the entrance of Mekong Merchant and you will find yourself in an open-air rustic patio where two verdant trees dominate the sky and lend a cooling shade to the whole place.

I discovered Quan Kien on a rainy Wednesday night when I almost didn’t go out. Only the fact that a friend was leaving for Italy soon, persuaded me.

If you haven’t been to Badhja yet, you won’t know that I’m paraphrasing their menu when I write: “If you’re someone who likes a mix of flavours, you will appreciate Algerian cuisine. It represents a fusion of North African, Arabic, Spanish, Moorish, Italian, Turkish, Jewish, Catalan, Sicilian and French influences.

As a cheese lover — nay, a cheese addict — I felt it was my duty to visit Le Padam, a cheese bar in District 2, which offers some of the best cheese you can find in Saigon. Owned by a French-Vietnamese couple, Cyrille and Ann, this new and unique French bistro emerged in the Saigon food scene a few months ago with the aim to offer some quality cheese — up to 14 different kinds — in a refined yet simple atmosphere.

Vietnamese youth love their ice cream. Who hasn’t been stuck in a traffic jam on Thanh Nien street, caused by lines of people buying the frozen confection? They love it almost as much as they love Korean culture and K-pop. Pow Pow combines these two loves, and throws in a pinch of America as well.

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