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Strolling down Ma May

The name Ma May is an amalgam of two old street names – Hang May and Hang Ma. The latter was where people shopped for worshipping objects while people went to Hang May to buy furniture made from rattan. At the turn of the century, the streets were joined and given one name: Ma May.
However, the French administration gave the street another name, Rue Des Pavillons Noirs (Black Flag Army) because
in 1882, this street was the general headquarters of Quan Co Den (Black Flag Army), a group of renegade imperial troops that had terrorised the French when they were attempting to gain military control of Hanoi. Traditional House, 87 Ma May Ma May is one of the Old Quarter’s busiest streets for tourism but it’s also one of the most interesting in terms of architecture and is still home to a number of ancient houses. In fact it has more than any other street in modern Hanoi. The house at 87 Ma May is the most evident. Beautifully preserved, this address is a wonderful representation of the Old Quarter’s architectural heritage. Built at the end of the 19th century, the house is perfectly constructed with a yard in between the front and back rooms – this is how Vietnamese architects wanted to avoid sunlight and keep interiors cool. The outer part of the ground floor was used for trading activities. The inner sanctum was for living and working. The backroom was for the kitchen and the restroom. On the second floor, the outer room served as the living room and a place for ancestor worship. The back room was used as a bedroom. Renovated in 1999, the house is a must-see for anyone touring around the Old Quarter. Ma May Temple (also known as Huong Tuong temple) was built in 1450 in honour of Nguyen Trung Ngan (1289-1370), a governor of Thang Long citadel. The temple is filled with centuries-old artifacts made under the Le, Tay Son and Nguyen dynasties. Coffee Break Café Nola, 89 Ma May Tucked away behind the street front, the very-cool Café Nola revels in its own motley connection of odd, incompatible furniture and artsy décor. There is something reassuringly quirky and random about Café Nola. You can sit on the floor or in a rocking chair. Play piano or use the free WiFi. Staggered over three levels, there are a number of hidden rooms and alcoves to discover on each visit. The food – simple grub for lunch or breakfast – is only decent but the coffees and juices are excellent. La Bougie Cafe, 34 Ma May (2nd floor) Another café hidden down an alley and up a flight of stairs, La Bougie offers a nice chilled out ambience with country style furniture and décor. A small menu offers up coffee, smoothies, cocktails, pizza and snacks. Align Café, 1B Ma May With artfully exposed brick walls, wooden furniture, low lighting, and comfy cushions, Align Café is a great place for a quiet rendezvous, an early evening drink or an early morning coffee. It’s also visually stimulating with over 40 3D graphic pictures of Vietnam displayed on the walls. The menu features a number of interesting snacks, such as Takoyaki – a Japanese style dumpling. Restaurants Madame Anh Tuyet, 25 Ma May Madame Anh Tuyet is one of the city’s most highly regarded culinary artisans. She has been lauded by none other than Anthony Bourdain, who featured Anh Tuyet Restaurant’s on his show No Reservation in 2002. Ironically, you do need a reservation to eat at Anh Tuyet. You can’t walk in and expect to be handed a menu! This is a carefully planned traditional Vietnamese meal. She also runs tours to the local market and teaches guests how to cook authentic Hanoi-style cuisine. Studio Lounge/ Restaurant, 32 Ma May Studio Lounge Restaurant features a comfortable and chic lounge style setting downstairs and a stylish dining area upstairs. You can find plenty of great cocktails and well-crafted contemporary European cuisine at very reasonable prices. There is also a daily lunch set menu. Big Man Beer, 55 Ma May Big Man Beer is a microbrewery with two main kinds of beer – black and gold – brewed in the tradition of German ales. You can also eat there with a menu featuring both Vietnamese dishes and European snacks; a great spot for a beer-thirsty tourist. Accommodation Hanoi Elegance hotel 85 Ma May Opened in October 2008, the new Hanoi Elegance Hotel provides visitors with a comfortable and relaxing setting with well appointed rooms and modern facilities. In the evening, the hotel also serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine in its stylish restaurant. Room rates go from $35 to $45.
Source: Time-out

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