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It’s been said (by whom I don’t know) that for travelers Thailand is like kindergarten and India is like grad school. If so Vietnam must be junior high. So why worry about the little things, like finding good places to eat? Here’s a quick list of the great places in Hanoi we recommend travelers check out:

@ Highway 4 – Rice wines get their proper showcase here, with everything from fruity to herbal to floral, and of course the ever-popular snake, scorpion and silkworm selections. And the catfish rolls are phenomenal.

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Marc and Malcolm at Hwy 4

^ Tamarind Café – Lonely Planet has done a lot for this place. Tamarind (they have a sister restaurant in Bangkok) has great breakfasts, and a terrific all-vegetarian menu, but don’t book your tour here – you can do just as well or better for half the price.

# Cha Ca La Vong – It says something about a cuisine that they named a whole street after it. This place serves one dish: fish sautéed in butter with greens. Trust us, it’s all you need. Cha Ca La Vong has been around for 100 years and with this taste they’ll be around 100 more – if the rickety wooden stairs hold up …

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What you get at Cha Ca. It’s what you need

~ Mao’s Red Lounge – Sweet atmosphere, hip clientele. Of course: we went there: must be the Place To Be.

= Red Beer – One of the many new brew pubs in Hanoi, this place has a terrific — you guessed it — red beer and a passable lager, and decent pub food. The atmosphere is very “American brew pub”: the perfect place to go after dinner at Highway 4, which happens to be right next door.

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* Bia Hoi Corner – Bia Hoi means “fresh beer,” and it’s available all over the city. But in the Old Quarter there’s an intersection with Bia Hoi places on all four corners: a famous place, easy to find. Plop yourself down on a lawn chair in the street, hand over 2,000 dong and you’re set. The going exchange rate is 16,000 dong to the dollar: eight glasses of keg beer for a buck: cheaper than water.

+ Whole Earth Restaurant – Best way to break your fast in the Old Quarter, for a pittance. Get the omelet with baguette. Lots of vegetarian options.

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