As I hadn’t come across a huge supermarket or hypermarket in the Old Quarter, I thought I would just stop by Lotte Mart at Lotte Center Hanoi when on the way back from the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
Lotte Center Hanoi
54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh
From the museum, we took a taxi (via GrabTaxi app) to Lotte Center which cost 25,000 VND (<SGD1.60).
The all-in-one Lotte Center consists of a hotel, observation deck on 65th level (yes, you can go up there and get a bird’s eye view of the city for a fee), offices, residences, a departmental store that spans across 6 levels and a hypermarket at the basement level. I was only interested in the hypermarket so we didn’t explore the rest and only went straight to Lotte Mart.
By the way, this is the same Lotte Mart that you can find in South Korea and Japan except that it is localised and doesn’t carry the same extensive range of Korean or Japanese products.
If you’re carrying a small sling bag, the security will stop you as he’ll need to cover up your bag with a plastic bag (stapled 2-3 times on the top) which is quite redundant because we can still access the bag’s top zip between the gaps so if we have the intention to steal something small, we still can. What’s the point, right? Might as well set up security scanners at the entrance/exit instead of doing this.
There was only 1 person doing the stapling when there was a group of people waiting to get into the supermarket – so terribly inefficient and such a waste of time. Also, bigger bags have to be left at the bag drop off counter but no one seems to be seriously looking after our personal belongings and what if something goes missing? Duh. Anyway, just make sure you don’t carry along any valuables. Keep your phone, wallet (and passport, etc) with you and wear your camera around your neck if need be – don’t leave them in your bag that’s going to be dropped off. Doesn’t look safe!
After one big round in the supermarket, I picked out some interesting buys (all food-related) that I thought were worth trying.
Wide selection of pate in cans. Different brands, different prices. Of course, the quality will not be the same too.
Good for spreading on baguettes when making banh mi if you don’t intend to make your own pate though it’s not difficult to do so. Check out my Chicken Liver Pate Recipe which I had used it for my Grilled Chicken Banh Mi Recipe.
2. Xiu Mai
First time seeing canned xiu mai. These are meat dumplings in tomato sauce which are also commonly used in banh mi just like the one I had at Highlands Coffee by the Truc Bach Lake.
3. Cuttlefish/Fish Snacks
Satay fish, crispy cuttlefish, crispy anchovies, etc. Familiar stuffs, just different brands.
4. Beef Jerky
The key ingredient to make Nom Thit Bo Kho (dried beef salad). Good on their own too, except my jaw got a little tired from all that chewing, lol.
5. Meat Floss
Was very happy to find this because I had first tasted such meat floss at the Chao Suon stall near our hotel and it really made everything so flavoursome. I picked the chicken floss instead of the pork one. Cooked rice congee at home and sprinkled the floss over it – yummy!
6. Dried Shrimp & Sesame Crackers
I put them in the oven and baked till they were golden brown and crispy. Very nice as a snack or you can serve these with stir fries or a nuoc cham dipping sauce. Alternatively, you can also deep fry them in oil like how keropok is made.
7. Rice Noodles
Great selection of dried pho noodles that you can buy home if you’d like to try making pho.
The same colourful noodles that I found at the Thai supermarket at Golden Mile Complex some time back.
8. Instant Noodles
Or rather, instant pho. Besides the regular ramen noodles, you can get rice noodles too. So many kinds to choose from and all were relatively cheap.
This brand was recommended to us by a local lady who was doing her grocery shopping there. Bought a few back to try and it was not bad. Added some beef, bean sprouts and herbs and it became an instant pho bo. ??
9. Chilli Sauce
Quite common to find such chilli sauces in most eateries that serve banh mi, pho, etc. The recipe of the chilli sauce is quite different from the ones in Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand – just a different balance of ingredients.
10. Coconut Ball Biscuits
Remember eating these 小馒头 biscuits when little? Ok, these biscuit balls were expanded versions of the regular ones we used to have, lol. They were big! And they had a nice fragrance of coconut milk too which was kinda similar to our CNY cookie, kueh bangkit.
11. Lotus Tea
Probably the most commonly drunk tea in Vietnam. In many of the eateries I had been to, they would always serve up lotus tea. Even when ‘hot tea’ was indicated on the menu, it would still be a lotus tea and not English breakfast tea. Light, sweet & fragrant. Loved it!
12. Dried Nuts & Seeds
Mix of both local and imported brands. There were really all kinds of different nuts and seeds.
I highly recommend the Dried Lotus Seeds…
…and Crispy Soy Beans. Addictive snacks that seemed pretty healthy too.
13. Brown Rice Puffs
Seldom see brown rice puffs though I had bought once before from Phoon Huat but wasn’t fantastic. This had a rather nutty flavour. Can just sprinkle over salads or anything that needs a crunch.
14. Fruit & Vegetable Chips
The local brands of fruit chips were fantastic! Prices were much cheaper here too comparing to what we could get in Singapore. I highly recommend the banana chips, jackfruit chips and taro chips.
15. Vietnamese Sausages/Ham
You can find all kinds of Vietnamese sausages and hams (wrapped in banana leaves) at the chilled section. Hubby loved these. Many eateries here serve these sausages and hams as sides to the main dishes.
This Lotte Mart branch is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm daily.
By the way, you might also want to check out the deli counter at the supermarket that offers pre-packed Vietnamese-style bentos, mixed rice (pick your own dishes), noodles and various fried foods & snacks. We had a casual lunch there that only cost us 78,000 VND (<SGD5) which included a bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles), com suon (pork chop rice), 1 big fried chicken drumstick and a cup of dessert soup that kinda resembled bubur cha cha as there were sweet potatoes/sago in coconut milk. Didn’t take any pictures as we couldn’t get a table ‘cos it was too crowded and we had to eat while standing.