After our epic Ha Long Bay cruise (from which I completely forgot to photograph any of the food…) we had a few more hours left in Hanoi before we had to head to the airport for our next adventure. We took this time to wander around the city a bit, until we were so hot and sweaty that we decided we simply had to find some respite and some air conditioning stat.
Near the lake that’s a big part of downtown Hanoi (at least from what we could tell) there’s a multilevel mall-ish building which basically houses a bunch of different restaurants on the higher floors and a whole lot of shops on the lower floors. We decided to go to Avalon Cafe Lounge, which Jackie and Luke had been to on the first day while I was still stranded in Hong Kong. It had a great view of the lake and was one of the more upscale places we had stumbled upon this far. The best part? Air conditioning, no smoking allowed, free wifi, and a delicious vegetarian dish. And the ambiance and details wasn’t too shabby either.
I must say, I was quite pleased that every restaurant we went to in Vietnam had a vegetarian section to the menu (this was not at all the case in Cambodia or Thailand). It didn’t strike waiters as totally insane when I ordered vegetarian options and it was generally not a big deal. While there was a lot of meat and cheese on Avalon’s menu, I had a really wonderful bok choy dish with a side of rice, which I promptly devoured.
One of my absolute favorite things about our time in southeast Asia was the coconuts. They’re a staple, and let me tell you, they blow boxed or canned coconut water I pick up in the States out of the water. So refreshing and novel for us tourists, they quickly became something at least one of us ordered at every meal.
My only regret was that I didn’t get a better shot of the lake here, (I have yet to master shooting outside while inside lighting issues), but I can’t help but share. It was a pretty great place to spend some time, fill our bellies, and plot our moves for the rest of the night and the coming days as we headed to Ho Chi Minh City. If you find yourself in Hanoi, definitely make this one of your stops.