At a local’s recommended, she insisted everyone who visits must try phở chua (sour noodles) at a popular restaurant called Phở Chua Hiền Lương.
The dish consists of rice noodles, julienne cut cucumber and carrots, bean sprouts and pork and Chinese sausage (lap cheong), then topped with roasted peanuts, fried shallots, and fresh herbs, in a delicious broth.
Cost: 35k VND
Address: 📍 Nhà Hàng Phở Chua Hiền Lương, 12 Bạch Đằng, Tp.Hà Giang
Chao Au Tau
If you ask any local what is the dish to try in Ha Giang, most if not all will tell you to try their famous delicacy, chao au tau, also known as “deathly porridge” or “poison porridge”. How has it gotten its reputation?
Cuu tau, also known as the jujube, is the root of the ooc tre, which is actually listed in the poisonous group A list, but it is also a medicinal herb after careful preparation. The taste is really interesting – very aromatic, but also medicinal and bitter tasting. I would highly recommend trying this, especially if you’re feeling under the weather to reap its medicinal benefits!
Address: 📍 Quán Hương Ấu Tẩu, Tổ 5 Trần Hưng Đạo, P. Nguyễn Trãi, Hà Giang, Vietnam.
Bánh cuốn, a staple Vietnamese breakfast dish, is one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, and is definitely underrated.
Similar to Cantonese cheung fun, these steamed rice rolls typically either have no filling (bánh cuốn chay) or a filling of pork and wood ear mushrooms (bánh cuốn nhan) , both are topped with crispy shallots. It is typically also served with pork patties/sausage (chả), and accompanied with a dipping sauce (nuoc mam) which comprises of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and fresh chillis. You’ll always find a basket full of fresh herbs served alongside it too to help bring everything together.
Don’t fret if you don’t get to try it, you can sample bánh cuốn in all Vietnamese cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
Address:📍 Bánh Cuốn Bà Hà, 79H6+GC tt. Đồng Văn, Đồng Văn District, Ha Giang, Vietnam
Lau (hot pot)
Since the North is much cooler and colder than Central and South Vietnam, you’ll find many hot pot restaurants in Ha Giang, translated as ‘lau’ in Vietnamese.
Vietnamese hot pot varies depending on what restaurant you go to, but the standard is there will always serve red meats, fish, tofu, noodles, and vegetables, and of course, fresh herbs.
The H’mong people’s hot pot speciality is Thang Co. Traditionally made with horsemeat, it is now typically made from either cow, buffalo or goats meat, along with aromatics like lemongrass, ginger and cardamom.
You can find this speciality dish at local markets like Cho Dong Van. You’ll be able to locate stalls selling Thang Co very easily, as the stall vendors will be ladling portions from a large cauldron-like pot.
Address:📍 Dong Van Market, Đồng Văn District, Ha Giang, Vietnam
Under two hours away from London King’s Cross, Brussels is a great city to explore for the weekend or even in 24 hours. I really enjoyed the food scene here, every place I went or stumbled upon prided themselves on sourcing local, seasonal produce; and only using the freshiest ingredients.
Very much a locals’ spot, for breakfast to lunch, I’d recommend heading over to Hinterland. The food was satisfying and delicious, the service was super friendly and the atmosphere was cosy.
They have an all-day breakfast/brunch menu served until 6pm. There are plenty of options on the menu, from scrambled eggs to pancakes, acai bowls to toasties. If you’re vegan, there are several choices from the menu too.
We ordered their blueberry buttermilk pancakes, avocado and sweet potato toastie, and iced matcha lattes.
Whenever I travel, I always make an effort to check out their coffee scene.
OR Coffee was one of the first specialty coffee shops in Brussels, part of a small chain based in Ghent. With two stores in Brussels, the branch in the city centre will most likely be the more convenient one.
They offer specialty coffee drinks, as well as other methods, like chemex, aeropress and your standard pourover coffee too. I like my coffee strong, creamy and rich – and their coffee was just that. And you know, I love a place that offers dairy-free alternative milks!
Definitely one of the top places in Brussels for a cup of coffee and people watching.
Address: OR Coffee, Rue A. Ortsstraat 9, 1000 Brussels. Operating Hours: Mon-Fri, 8AM-6PM / Sat, 9AM-6PM / Sun, 10AM-6PM
Frites at Friterie de la Barriere
According to the Internet, this is THE place to get frites in Brussels. Friterie de la Barriere has been a Brussels institution for the past fifty-something years.
Similar to Australia Dairy Co. in Hong Kong, this place has a reputation for bad service (but it adds to the experience). But nonetheless, the frites were SO delicious; freshly cut every day and double fried in beef fat, so the frites had a lot of flavour! I love sauces so I was impressed with their large selection of sauces – from aioli to bearnaise, to curry, to your classic ketchup and mayonnaise.
To balance out the obscene amount of fries we were eating, we opted for a healthy lunch at Tich Healthy Living. A concept store, they sell plant-based cookbooks, sustainable homeware (think mason jars, reusable straws etc.) with a trendy plant-based café, that serves your typical brunch menu (think avocado toast, acai bowls).
We ordered their avocado toast with pickled onions, banana pancakes topped with coconut yogurt and berries, and acai bowl. NGL, it’s a pretty standard brunch cafe spot, so if you’re vegan, plant-based or just health-conscious, I’d recommend visiting. Although I will note it is quite pricey for the portions.
Address: Tich Healthy Living, Rue de Namur, 25, Brussels, Belgium, 1000 Operating Hours: Mon-Fri, 9AM-6:30PM / Sat-Sun, 10AM-6:30PM
A pick-me-up at Belga & Co.
Belga and Co. is another popular specialty coffee-shop in Brussels, so you gotta get their coffee.
We only ordered coffees so can’t vouch for the food, but their brunch menu did sound really good, especially the savory options like their croque monsieur with homemade parsley pesto.
NGL, I would come here just for the aesthetic and to people watch.
Address: Belga & Co, Rue du Bailli 7A – 1000 Brussels Operating Hours: Mon-Fri, 7:30AM-6:30PM / Sat-Sun, 8:30AM-6:30PM
Waffles at Maison Dandoy
When you think of Belgium, you think of waffles!
Maison Dandoy is well-known for its speculoos and waffles, serving both the Liege and Brussels Waffle.
We ordered the Brussels waffle (because when in Brussels!). Rectangularly shaped, the Brussels waffle has a light and crispy texture and is sprinkled with icing sugar. Whereas the Liege waffle is more similar to what we see in the UK marketed as a Belgian waffle. It’s much
We stumbled across this restaurant on our way back to our Airbnb, and I’m so glad we ended up having dinner here. Tero is a sharing small-plates type of restaurant, and although from the outside it looks slightly pretentious, inside the atmosphere is very cosy and warm.
The restaurant prides itself on using only organic and seasonal produce, either directly from their farm, or from local suppliers. So as you can expect, their menu changes with the seasons.
We ordered four plates to share and then dessert, and there was a complimentary bread basket with amazing sourdough bread. All the dishes we ordered, the quality and freshness of the ingredients were noticeable.
I’d recommend trying to book a table. We visited for an early dinner and were lucky to be seated, as the restaurant got really busy as the night went on.
Address: Tero, Rue St.Bernard 1, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium Operating Hours: Mon-Sat, 12PM-1:45PM and 7-9:45PM / Sun, Closed
Indulge in Belgium chocolates from Elisabeth.
And of course, you can’t leave Brussels without buying and eating chocolate. The most popular Belgian chocolatiers are Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus, and Leonidas – all great chocolatiers. But it’s been two years since my trip to Brussels, and I still think about the chocolates I brought from Elisabeth. There are several stores in the city centre, so I’d recommend going in sampling a few, and buying boxes in bulk to bring home so you can reminisce about your time in Brussels (oh, and maybe for souvenir gifts for friends and family).
Prague is the perfect destination for the perfect Christmas weekend city break. Get the low-down on where to stay, what and where to eat in Prague, and the best things to do in Prague.
Prague is the perfect destination for a winter weekend city break. It has everything – Christmas markets, mulled wine, delicious food and doesn’t break the bank!
Recommend: 2-3 days. Great for couples and trips with friends. £.
Golden Key, located in Prague 1, is a boutique hotel in a 13th-century building. Despite formerly being a locksmith’s workshop, the rooms were modern, spacious and cosy. The location of the hotel was great: walking distance to the Prazsky Castle (ten minutes) and the iconic Charles Bridge (15 minutes) and the other tourist attractions. For any ventures outside of Prague 1, the transit system was nearby and also easy to use. Use the discount code FRIENDS for 10% off.
Public transport fares/prices are cheap, and they do offer a variety of tickets based on the duration of travel – 60 mins, 90 mins, 24 hours, and 3 days – as opposed to the number of trips. Similar to other European public transport systems, it’s so easy to use. To soak in as much of the city as you can, I’d opt against using public transport, and walk as much as possible, just remember to wrap up warm!
For breakfast or brunch, head on over to Cafe Savoy, located in the Little Quarter. It has gorgeous interiors, which includes a listed neo-renaissance ceiling which dates back to the 1890s.
It’s regarded as one of the best places to eat breakfast by the locals since it serves an array of different dishes and has its own bakery, which offers fresh confectionery and baked goods daily.
Order the french toast with fresh fruits and maple syrup with a freshly brewed pot of black tea to cut the sweetness, I’d recommend either the French breakfast or the Ruschka. Then finish off breakfast with a selection of their freshly baked in-house cakes. 3/5.
For a spot of coffee and a snack, head to EMA Espresso Bar, loved by the foodies of Prague. They serve good coffee in a minimal and Shoreditch-sque spot. 5/5.
For lunch, if you fancy something different and want to experience more of the Czech food culture, dine in a Vietnamese restaurant. The Vietnamese community makes up the largest ethnic minority group in the country, so if you’re up for some exploring and venturing outside the city centre, make a stop to Czech’s ‘Little Hanoi’ or ‘Sapa’. Although there isn’t much there to do since it’s a huge industrial park with supermarket stores and a place to buy bulk items. But there, lies a gem called Phuong Phuong, which sells in a northern Vietnamese speciality, banh cuon – a favourite of mine. Banh cuon is steamed rice rolls, either served plain or with a meat and mushroom filling, accompanied with a fish sauce vinaigrette and Vietnamese pork roll. 4/5.
Alternatively, for somewhere in the centre of Prague, head over to Remember, a family-run restaurant serving cheap yet hearty delicious Vietnamese dishes. 3/5.
Accidentally finding Krcma, a tavern serving traditional Czech dishes, was the best thing to happen on my trip to Prague. Located in the Old Town near the street lit up by all the designer stores, it was a full-house on a weekday, packed with locals and tourists. We luckily managed to grab the last table of the evening. Must-have dishes include the beef goulash and the roasted duck with dumplings, and a side of mash potatoes. The portions were enormous, delicious and really good value for money. Highly recommended. 5/5.
Walk and get lost in the city. As I mentioned, the best way to really explore the city is to just walk and get lost, and you’ll find yourself strolling along Charles Bridge, walking past Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral, and through the Jewish Quarter.
Climb 229 steps to Petrin Hill (or a ride the funicular railway). From the top of the hill, it offers a lovely view of the city and gives you a moment to appreciate Prague from a different perspective! 5/5.
Wander around the two main Christmas markets which are open during the Christmas period. Located at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, both markets walking distance from each other. Grab a cup (or five cups) of mulled wine, some delicious overpriced cured ham, and the Czech traditional pastry, trdelík, a fully circular pastry which has the option of fruit, cream or ice cream fillings. 5/5.
City Break Guide to Copenhagen: where to eat, hotels to stay and what to do.
Your essential travel guide to Copenhagen – my recommendations on where to stay, where and what to eat, and what to do.
Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is home to hygge, functional and minimalist interior design and fashion. Copenhagen is perfect for couples, friends or even solo! Keep in mind that although you can grab plane tickets cheap, the cost of living is high (££££). Stick to three days, or four days if you’re planning a day trip to Malmo.
Without a doubt, you can expect interior envy at any hotel or AirBnB you stay in. My hotel choices include:
I’d recommend using hotels.com where possible, because of their 10% student discount. But keep in mind, if you’re part of their loyalty scheme, you won’t be able to collect nights. Or book directly from the hotel’s website, sometimes there are deals which work out cheaper!
In the morning, take a walk toward 108’s The Corner for a coffee and their in-house Danish pastries. Priding themselves on only using seasonal ingredients – something embedded in Noma’s food philosophy – their pastry selection always accommodates what produce and ingredients are most fresh and best. If you’re not near-by, there is an abundance of Ole and Steen branches dotted all around the city. Head in for a latte and their famous cinnamon socials. (And if all this talk of cinnamon buns has your mouth watering, head over to their London branches in Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Canary Wharf).
For a light lunch, pay a worthy visit toAndersen Bakery. A Japanese chef, Shunsuke Takati, was infatuated by Danish baking and opened up this bakery as a result. The bakery offers traditional Danish pastries which are heavenly, and pastries which fuses his Japanese heritage, like matchabolle. Gourmet hotdogs are also on the menu, which are house-made and served in a delicious brioche-bread. We opted for the Spicylicious and Beef hotdogs and to satisfy our sweet tooth, we ordered the classic but delicious cinnamon bun.
A must-try when you visit Denmark is their smørrebrød – the Danish open sandwich. It consists of buttered slices of rye bread with a variety of toppings and accompaniments. We visited two spots during our visit, both as good as each other, but offered different experiences.
Fleish is located in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District and serves smørrebrød in their afternoon menu. As soon as you take a seat, the ambience will have you immediately feeling cosy and warm, or what the Danes would call hygge, with their wooden chairs propped up with furry blankets and candles on each dining table. (It does get really busy, and if a table isn’t possible, Paté Paté, a bistro and wine/tapas bar, next door is an alternative option for lunch or dinner).
Kronborg Restaurant offers a more traditional, homey, old-school aesthetic in comparison to Fleish, but still very delicious! If the weather permits, opt for alfresco dining and enjoy the sun as you chow down on an assortment of open sandwiches. Order 3-4 dishes between two. Order the classic, pickled red herring, the paté, and the Danish meatballs.
For dinner, head over to Restaurant Honey, one of my favourite restaurants, Despite being located very close by to the touristy area Nyhavn, the food is amazing!
The dining concept of sharing plates and carafes creates a chilled and social atmosphere., with a plethora of plates and cups spread across everyone’s table. Choose a main course, from lamb, pork to fish, which is then accompanied by their daily garnishes which changes according to seasonal ingredients. For our dinner, we were served gnocchi in brown butter, baked celeriac with truffle butter and chives, fried apples with cottage cheese and tarragon, and a salad.
Even if you don’t have space in your stomach for dessert – make space! Their soft-serve ice cream topped with in-house toppings was the perfect way to end the meal. The self-serve service enables you to choose your choice of ice-cream and toppings (which is unlimited!) Honey was definitely my favourite dining spot during my visit.
108 is the sister restaurant of the best restaurant in the world (in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014), NOMA. (Although it would have been quite an experience, NOMA was far too expensive, upwards of £300 per person – maybe in another life?) Both restaurants are known for their reinvention and interpretation of the Nordic cuisine, using only seasonal, fresh produce and famous for their fermentation kitchen which they share together. 108 is a cheaper alternative to experience New Nordic Cuisine. I discovered 108 by watchingthis MUNCHIES video, and I was in awe with the way the head chef, Kristian Baumann, spoke about food. For reference, we ordered cured squid, raw Norwegian scallops, braised oxtail and beef short ribs (for two). My favourite dish were the scallops – it was unbelievably fresh and delicate, and was plated beautifully. However, overall, the meal was quite average for me.
Visiting a food market gives you a great opportunity to sample a variety of differentCopenhagen’s Street Food Market. Open from 12pm till 8pm, it’s an optimal place to grab lunch or dinner. Similar to Shoreditch’s Dinerama, there are a variety of different cuisines from 50DKK+, as well as alcohol. If the weather permits, sit outside by the waterfront in the sun with a cocktail in one hand and food in the other. Otherwise, there is indoor seating to accommodate for any rainy/cold weather. I highly recommend trying the fish and chips and the duck and chips stall located on the left-hand side of the market upon entering.
Other dining options include Manfreds, a farm-to-table restaurant, so you can expect fresh, quality produce. Opt for the ‘Chef’s Choice Menu’, which consists of 7-8 courses to share family-style, and make sure to order their famous tartar from the a la carte menu! Gasoline Grill for some delicious, juicy burgers! It’s in an old petrol station (the Landgreven 10 branch specifically) so it’s also definitely Insta-worthy too. And lastly, ILUKA, a seafood restaurant.
For sweet treats, a #CopenhagenFoodie spot is Gelato Rajissimo which serves delicious gelato and the Insta-famous waffle stick with melted chocolate and sprinkles!
A perfect treat whilst you’re walking along Nyhavn. Another choice is Osterberg Icecream located in Osterbro, which a selection of unique flavours like jack fruit and durian!
Sit on a bench at Nyhavn and people watch. No matter what time of day, you’ll always find locals with friendly faces biking around; people enjoying al fresco dining and drinks by the water, chatting and gossiping; and freelancers sitting in coffee shops with their laptops. The neighbourhood definitely has a charm to it.
Visit the Botanical Gardens. Visit the Botanical Gardens inside the University of Copenhagen, it’s absolutely beautiful (and humid!). Whilst you’re there, pay a visit to Rundetaarn, attached to the University’s Library, it provides a lovely view of the city.
Visit Christiania, also commonly known as the ‘Green Light District’, Freetown Christiania is a commune in the borough of Christianshavn, with a population of almost 1,000 residents.
Tivoli Gardens. If you’re a fan of amusements parks, schedule a day at Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. However, bear in mind the park is only open from Mid-April to Mid-September.
Shopping. Denmark is famous for its reputation of being the happiest place in the world, but its fashion and interior design comes right after. So shopping is a must when visiting. To discover and explore Danish fashion, recommendations include Playtype, Acne Studios, Weekday and Norse Store Women. Remember to make a visit to Acne Studios outlet store, Acne Archive, with luck you’ll score some heavily discounted bits! If you’re a lover of stores similar to Dover Street Market, Storm is a must-visit. To shop Danish interiors, browse Frama and Dansk Made for Room, which sells a curated selection of homeware; and a beautiful ceramics store called Keramik and Glasvaerkstedet; and of course, a visit to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without a visit to HAY House.
Day trip to Malmø. Malmo was never on my radar till my colleagues at my part-time retail job boasted about how amazing the city is. Only a 40-minute train ride away, Malmø offers great food, shopping and atmosphere! On every foodie’s list should be a visit to Saluhall, a food-hall market with a variety of stalls and eateries.
Reminiscent of the independent, ‘hipster’ coffee scene in Shoreditch, El Cafe offers a little slice of home for tourists visiting Havana.
Located five minutes from Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, you’ll find this vibrant cafe tucked away in the city’s street of vacant buildings.
El Cafe is the perfect spot to hide from the midday heat or to recover from a late night. Seats fill up with tourists and locals quickly, so be sure to head there early. You’ll find delicious brunch plates, homemade sandwiches, espresso drinks and freshly-made juices.
Order the seasonal pancakes! SO fluffy inside and crispy outside – basically the perfect pancake. The cubed pineapples and mangoes, with a drizzle of honey to cut the tartness of the pineapples.
You can expect friendly English-speaking staff; pretty tiles; courtyard seating and a cute Insta-worthy picture.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10am to 6pm
Address: El Cafe, #358 La Amargura, La Habana, Cuba
What to order? Pancakes, your own custom juice, and a shot of espresso.
My Berlin city break guide on where to stay, what to eat, and what to do, based on my short trip in the summer of 2016.
We stayed at Sana Berlin Hotel, in the Charlottenburg area. The room was spacious, clean and modern; and the staff was friendly and helpful! Another plus was the hotel was in a very convenient location, located near two train stations, making traveling around Berlin accessible and easy. The only complaint would be their wi-fi signal was terrible as we were only able to access the internet from the lobby.
Public transport is the ideal way to discover the city. So, definitely purchase a train pass for the duration of your visit. It will get you everywhere. If you’re familiar with London’s tube map, then navigating your way around Berlin will be a breeze. And of course, download Citymapper so you’re informed of any disruptions during your trip.
For breakfast or brunch, head over to Distrikt Coffee in Mitte, a Insta-worthy and aesthetically pleasing coffee shop.
Treat yourself and order their buttermilk pancakes and prepare to be amazed by the complimentary flavours of their house-made berry compote and fresh basil with their fluffy pancakes. For something savoury, order their avocado toast with beets and radish. (4/5) From here you can make your way to the remnants of the Berlin Wall on foot.
Alternatively, go to Silo Coffee in Friedrichshain, an Australian coffee shop serving classic Aussie brunch dishes. We ordered ‘The Silo’ which is an big order of pancakes, bacon and poached eggs, their shakshuka, with a cappuccino and iced latte to cool down. It was a pricey brunch, at €30 for two. (3/5)
For a pick-me-up, go to Zeit fur Brot, located in Mitte. Grab a cappuccino, along with their freshly baked in-house buttery croissants and cinnamon buns. (4/5)
A savoury snack option would be köfte sandwiches from Gel Gor Inegol Kofteci in Kreuzberg. The ultimate cheap eat – good quality, delicious meat and cheap! (4/5)
For lunch, head over to Gasthaus Kromach in Charlottenburg. It ticks all the boxes: friendly and cosy atmosphere (check), delicious large portions of traditional German food (check), and reasonable prices (check)! Recommendations include their pork schnitzel and bratwurst sausage. (4/5) Burn off the calories and make your way to the shopping district, Kurfürstendamm, and shop till you drop!
Saving best for last, for dinner make your way to Henne in Kreuzberg, home to the best fried chicken. Filled with locals, you know this is the place to be at. The menu is simple and to the point – fried chicken with side options of slaw and potato salad. (5/5) Unlike other recommendations, I suggest you make time for dinner here. Reservations are a must so remember to book in advance.
Take photos in an old Photoautomat. Whilst other cities have digital photo booths, in Berlin, you can find vintage chemical photo booths plotted around the city. Remember to have some change (€2 or so) with you, pop it in and take a series of four photos, which will be printed out in black and white. A great experience and a little something for you to bring back home with you instead of a tacky souvenir.
Have lunch at the Reistag. It offers a beautiful view of the city and you also get a free and queue-free peak of the government building.
Visit the East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie (and all the other places of historical significance).
Sample Vietnamese food! Berlin is home to a large Vietnamese community, so you’ll find an array of Vietnamese restaurants plotted around Berlin.
Spend an afternoon at Tiergarden especially if the weather is nice too!