Visiting a local home while travelling is a wonderful experience and I was lucky enough to join the Van family in their Hanoi home. Me and my companions were kindly welcomes into their home and as well as being served delicious Vietnamese cuisine, we were given a valuable opportunity to learn more about local life.
Dinner with a local family in Hanoi
The family’s house is located in the suburbs of Hanoi where narrow lanes lead off the crowded streets. As land is at such a high price here, all of the houses on these streets extend many storeys. Mr Van is a 76-year-old war veteran with such a pleasant character that we felt instantly at home. He met his wife whilst they were both serving in the army – they have been married for 50 years! To put the house prices in perspective, they had to save for 42 years to purchase the land that their house sits on. Buying the surrounding land also helped their five daughters to build their own houses.
Taking off our shoes (as is customary), we were led upstairs to the main living room where we sat down for a warming cup of hot green tea – a tradition in Vietnam. Following introductions, we headed downstairs for Mrs Van’s great spread. But before tucking in to dinner, we took a sip of homemade rice wine, another tasty tradition! The wine is fermented in a number of different ways; it was clear from the variety of glass jars around the house that Mr Van was a bit of a pro!
As with most Vietnamese meals the first dish was a noodle soup. This was swiftly followed by a variety of plates, including beef kebab, chicken soup, fried fish and picked vegetables. From noodles or morning glory (the most popular green vegetable in Vietnam), each dish has a unique flavour and accompaniment.
Once suitably full we reconvened upstairs, where Mr Van showed us the traditional one-stringed musical instrument he had made. He played beautifully and his laughter made everyone in his company feel at ease.
The evening we spent with the Van family was the perfect way to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnamese culture, cuisine and family values. Talking to the family gave us a great appreciation for what the country and its people have experienced; as well as a deep respect for their appreciation of life. We left feeling very humbled. I would recommend anybody lucky enough to spend some time at a Vietnamese home to take it. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget!
Join a family for the evening to enjoy Vietnamese hospitality and a delicious dinner on our Dine with a Local experience.