i eventually found some more places where i really loved the food in hanoi
I finally found the Pho i was looking for.
Name: Pho Ga - Bo,or Pho Bo, Ga (depending on which sign you look at)
Address: 32 Bat Dan
Phone: 826 9119
this place rocked. i went there twice. the first time a woman served us and the second time there was a man there. basically, a bowl of pho was 8k dong. (a little over $0.50 USD.) they would take some rice noodles and put them in a wicker basket, lower it into some boiling water for a few seconds to warm them up, and then throw them into your bowl. on top of this they trow a bunch of chopped up green onion and lemon grass. then they take some fresh beef, put it in a big spoon, and dip the spoon lightly into the pho broth (which is in a giant black pot and sits there boiling all day), and by doing this they cook the beef a bit with the hot broth right in the spoon. this is then thrown into your bowl, and more broth is added to top it off. once i got the bowl, i had pickeled garlic, freshly chopped chilies, chili sauce, lime slices, and some other greens at my table. (and the tables at this place are the little kiddy ones that are set up on the sidewalk.) i added these as necessary to the pho. it was absolutly great.
we also went to a "fancy" resturant (read "fancy" as not 8k for a meal) called highway 4. (it's documented in the lonly planet. we went here a total of three times. first they have good cheap coctails. (normally i got the 15k dong, or $1 USD coctail, but we did hit happy hour once where everything was half priced.) but the real reason i kept comming back here was the catfish spring rolls. they consisted of a fried piece of catfish, a piece of fennel, and some mild creamy horseradish sauce rolled up in rice paper. this was then dipped in a oyster (hosin?) sauce which i think had a bit of the creamy horseradish sauce mixed in. the rolls where steamed a tiny bit and served warm. the second and third time i went back here, all i ordered was drinks and the spring rolls. (multiple servings of them.)
Of course i also went back to the Bun Cha place i described earlier.
lastly, while drinking is technically different from eating, i'll mention that me and ronda spent quite a bit of time at the corner of P Luong, Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet, and P Ta Hien. (in the old quarter.) on this corner there are three Bia Hoi joints that all fact into the intersection. each of them has all there seating in the form of plastic kiddy chairs on the sidewalk, and best of all, they all server beers for 1500 dong, or about $0.10 USD. me and ronda managed to kill about three hours one afternoon here during the peak heat of the day, and it only cost us a buck. very nice.