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Pearl Island - Ngu Xa night food street: An attractive cultural-cuisine rendezvou in Hanoi
Jenna Duong 09:07, 2023/04/05
The newly established food street in the inner district of Ba Dinh brings fascinating cultural, tourist, and culinary experiences to travelers at home and abroad.

Once a craft village for copper casting since the 15th century, the Ngu Xa area is now better known as the capital’s funky cultural-cuisine rendezvous.

Visitors to Pearl Island - Ngu Xa night food street and pedestrian area in Truc Bach Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. Photo: Duy Khanh

The Pearl Island - Ngu Xa night food street and pedestrian area in Truc Bach Ward, Ba Dinh District, draws more than 3,000 visitors on weekends and about 2,500 on weekdays, according to the People’s Committee of Truc Bach Ward.

The city’s new food and entertainment hub

After only three months of trial, the Pearl Island - Ngu Xa area has developed into a captivating culinary destination of Hanoi, according to Nguyen Dan Huy, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Truc Bach Ward.

“Diverse culinary and cultural events have all been held in such a short time, including the ‘Spring Culinary Competition’ involving eight renowned restaurants in the city; folk art and music performances; the Chung Cake Wrapping Competition for foreign tourists, among others.

These activities have effectively promoted the value of the cultural space while creating an entertainment venue for domestic and foreign tourists,” he told The Hanoi Times.

“In addition, to ensure absolute safety for visitors, the work of food hygiene and safety, environmental sanitation, security and order, urban civilization, and fire prevention is also carefully managed,” he added.

It’s well-known that the number of visitors to Pearl Island - Ngu Xa night food street and pedestrian area spike sharply on weekends, especially on Sundays, with up to thousands. The restaurants and street eateries in neighboring streets of Tran Vu, Truc Bach, Pho Duc Chinh, and so on have become more bustled and overcrowded.

 Foreign visitors to the newly established culinary and walking space of Pearl Island - Ngu Xa. Photo: Duy Khanh 

Dao Mai Trang, a visitor from Cau Giay District, shared with The Hanoi Times that she and her family often spend the weekends in the Pearl Island - Ngu Xa area.

“The eatery is allowed to open right on the sidewalk. For visitors, especially foreigners, sitting and eating in the open air while interacting with passers-by is a very enjoyable experience,” she stated.

“Furthermore, public spaces and dining establishments are lavishly decorated to enliven the spirits of visitors and residents,” she added.

According to Trang, Ngu Xa’s Pho cuon or Pho Roll is on the list of foods visitors should not skip. Invented by a Hanoian housewife in Ngu Xa Street, the dish has become one of Hanoi’s delicacies for over decades.

In contrast to the ordinary Pho bo or traditional Vietnamese noodle broth with beef always served piping hot, the Pho cuon is served cold with aromatic sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. The straightforward but delectable meal combines pho sheets or pieces of flat, steamed rice noodles with stir-fried beef and herbs. 

A survey by the local tourism sector shows that most of the first-timers to Pearl Island - Ngu Xa food street said they planned to return to the place to try other specialties, including deep-fried pho, crispy fried pho with egg, or sour pho as well as yummy hotpots.

 Hanoi's specialties of pho cuon or steamed rice noodles with stir-fried beef and herbs, pho chien phong or crispy fried pho and pho tron or a sweet-and-sour mixture of rice noodles with beef, are served at Pearl Island -Ngu Xa food street. Photo: Pho cuon Huong Mai 

More bus routes to be set up

In addition to ensuring the diversity of food and entertainment activities, Ba Dinh District will coordinate with Hanoi Transport to add a bus stop on this newly established food street in Hanoi, according to Co Nhu Dung, Vice Chairman of People’s Committee of Ba Dinh District. 

“The new bus route that connects Pearl Island -Ngu Xa food street with other tourist attractions in Hanoi’s downtown will be considered,” he said.

“The district will also help the food street's management board plan larger-scaled cultural and culinary events, better meeting the needs of local and international travelers in terms of culinary and amusement,” he went on.

Pearl Island - Ngu Xa night food quarter, which spans two streets of Ngu Xa, Nguyen Khac Hieu, and the parks encircling Truc Bach Lake, was launched last December. It is open from 6 pm. on Friday until midnight on Saturday and Sunday. After the trial period, the city may consider opening the walking space seven days a week and closing the quarter for traffic from 6 pm to 5 am the next day (24 hours on Saturday and Sunday).

The 4.5-hectare Pearl Island - Ngu Xa Peninsula, also known as the Truc Bach Peninsula, is one of young Hanoians' most popular gathering places. It is situated on Truc Bach Lake to the southeast of West Lake and is only connected by two tiny bridges to the main lakeside.

 Young foreign visitors join a Pearl Island- Ngu Xa art performance. Photo: Duy Khanh

There are also a ton of cafés and eateries all around the Truc Bach lakes. Ngu Xa’s fresh rice noodle rolls and Thai-style seafood with rice vermicelli, Truc Bach’s frog hot pot, Chau Long’s pork offal congee, and Bao Oanh Café’s coconut ice cream are a few well-known specialties to both residents and tourists.

This Pearl Island- Ngu Xa night food street is expected to become a breakthrough solution for the locality to push for economic development, focusing on trade and services activities.

Hanoi has an official culinary space on Tong Duy Tan Street and Cam Chi Alley in Hoan Kiem District. Other pedestrian spaces are Hoan Kiem Lake and the surrounding area, Trinh Cong Son Street, the Son Tay Citadel, and the area around the Thien Quang Lake in Hai Ba Trung District.

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