Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its vibrant street food scene and delicious cuisine. Here are some must-try dishes and things to eat in Hanoi.
Hanoi is not only the center of politics, economy, culture and society but also the center of cuisine, culinary arts. Cooking and enjoying dishes is an art of Hanoi people, but until now that habit still exists and has become a unique culture, appealing to anyone at their first coming there.
The sophistication of Hanoi cuisine is expressed in the way of processing, how to enjoy and also in the hearts of the givers and the receivers. Every Hanoi dish has its own flavor, beauty and especially the tradition, how to enjoy the tradition, so that it is not only ordinary food but upgraded to the culinary art.
Referring to Hanoi cuisine, it is impossible not to mention pho. Famous since the early twentieth century with the names Pho Thin, pho Gia Truyen, Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su … sold in the burden.
Today, Pho has become one of the most typical dishes of Hanoi, enjoyed by both small street stalls and luxury restaurants.
Along with pho and bun cha, Hanoi people also have many delicious dishes from shrimp and fish. The most remarkable thing is banh tom (shrimp in batter) and cha ca. Banh tom Ho Tay is still a famous and delicious dish. La Vong grilled fish has been a famous specialty of Hanoi for hundreds of years. This is also the only dish used to name a street in Hanoi Old Quarter, Cha Ca Street.
To develop and preserve the traditional dishes of Hanoi, today, Hanoi has its own culinary culture street, which is Tong Duy Tan street and Hang Bong alley, also known as Cam Chi lane. During the French colonial period, this street was named Brusseaux, after it was changed to Ky Dong, until 1964 it was changed to Tong Duy Tan.
10 things to eat in Hanoi must-try
1. Noodle Soup (Pho)
Noodle Soup (Pho ) is a dish that you’ll consume frequently during your trip to Vietnam. Pho Bo is simply beef noodle soup and is the classic preparation of this ubiquitous dish. You can also get Pho Ga which is made with chicken instead of beef.
Pho Bo starts with steaming beef broth that has been simmering on the stove since early in the morning. The broth is poured over a bowl full of rice noodles, onions, and scallions. It’s then topped with various cuts of beef and a pinch of cilantro.
Your Pho comes served with a plate of fresh bean sprouts, basil, mint, jalapeno slices, and a lime wedge so you can season your bowl to your own personal taste. You’ll also find pickled garlic, fish sauce, black pepper, and Hoisin sauce on the table at most Pho restaurants if you want to experiment with flavors.
You may be asked to choose what cuts of meat you would like in your Pho. If you’re a newbie you might want to stick with well-done brisket (chín) or rare round steak (tái) that is quickly cooked by the boiling broth. If you want to be more adventurous, try fatty brisket (gầu), tendon (gân) and tripe (sách).
* Pho gia truyen:
- Add: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Open: 6h00 – 10h00 | 18h00 – 20h30
- Price: 30.000VND – 55.000VND
* Pho Thin
- Add: 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
- Open: 6h00 – 20h30
- Price: 40.000VND – 60.000VND
* Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
- Add: No. 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Open: 6h30 – 22h30
- Price: 50.000VND – 70.000VND
2. Noodle Roll (Pho cuon)
Noodle Roll (Pho Cuon) is basically all the ingredients of Pho, but without the broth. It consists of strips of grilled beef and lots of herbs like cilantro, basil, and mint, all rolled up in a wide rice noodle. So instead of using a spoon and chopsticks, you just dip them in a bowl of nước chấm (sweet fish sauce) and enjoy!
- Pho cuon Huong Mai: 25 Ngu Xa, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Price 55k/dish.
- Phở cuon Hung Ben: 33 Ngu Xa, Ba Đinh, Hanoi. Price 55k/dish.
3. Noodle with chicken soup egg and pork (Bun thang)
Bun thang or rice noodle with chicken, egg and pork can be enjoyed at any time of the day. The clear yet flavourful broth is made with 20 ingredients, including dried shrimp, squid, shrimp paste, spring onion, coriander, ginger, mushroom, beet, fish sauce, sugar candy, and vinegar. It is also a particularly attractive Hanoi dish as the noodles, chicken, eggs, pork slices, and a dollop of shrimp paste are carefully arranged to resemble a flower. Available mostly within Hanoi Old Quarter,
- Bun thang Cau Go: 32 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi. Price 35k/bowl.
- Bun thang Hang Hom. No. 2 Hang Chi lane, Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi. Price 35k/bowl.
4. Noodle with grilled meat (Bun cha)
Noodle with grilled meat (Bun Cha) is maybe the most iconic dish in Vietnam, especially in the North.
Bun Cha is made of grilled fatty pork and pork meatballs served in a bowl of nước chấm – fish sauce mixed with garlic, chili, sugar, and lime juice. You’ll also typically find a few pickled vegetables floating in the bowl as well.
Alongside your bowl of pork and nước chấm you’ll be served a side of vermicelli noodles, a small bowl of sliced chili peppers, and a heaping plate of fresh herbs and lettuce leaves.
There are different ways of eating bun cha depending on whether you’re in Northern or Southern Vietnam. But since you’re in the North just throw everything in your bowl of nước chấm and dig in!
- Bun cha Huong Lien or Bun cha Obama: 24 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Price 45k /pax
- Bún cha Duy Diem: 140 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
5. Noodles with crab (Bun rieu cua)
Noodles with crab (Bun rieu cua) comprises thin rice noodles with freshwater paddy crab and shrimp paste that’s served in tomato broth. A breakfast staple amongst locals, the dish is also garnished with bean sprouts, prawn paste, herb leaves, tamarind/lime, tofu, water spinach, and tomato chunks.
Like most Vietnamese noodle soups, local restaurants offer a basket of greens and herbs on each table, such as leaf lettuce, perilla leaves, cilantro, shredded morning glory stem, and also deep-fried crullers for dunking directly into the soup.
- Bun rieu pho Quang Trung: 2F Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Price 35k-45k/bowl.
- Bun rieu pho Nguyen Sieu: 32 Nguyen Sieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Price 35k-45k/ bowl.
6. Grilled Fish (Cha Ca)
The dish consists of grilled fish with turmeric and dill and the best Cha Ca is traditionally made from Hemibagrus (a species of catfish). These days, however, due to the rareness of Hemibagrus, you’ll likely wind up eating Snakehead fish or Mudfish.
To make Cha Ca the fish is deboned, cut into pieces, and seasoned with turmeric and other spices. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over a charcoal fire. When the fish is brought out to you it is cooked a second time at your table in a skillet full of green onions and dill.
You’ll also be brought plates of vermicelli rice noodles, chili peppers, cilantro, peanuts, and a bowl of fish sauce. Once the Cha Ca is ready you’ll fill your bowl with the grilled fish, green onions, noodles, and top it with everything else. The wide array of flavors compliment each other perfectly! If there is a single dish that is considered the food of Hanoi it is Cha Ca and you should absolutely try it while you’re in the capital of Vietnam.
The original Cha Ca restaurant is Chả Cá Lã Vọng and most people agree that the restaurant has become too popular for its own good. The result is higher prices, poor quality, and long wait times. Best to skip this Hanoi institution and get your Cha Ca fix elsewhere.
- Cha ca La Vong: 14 Cha Ca street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Cha ca Thang Long: 19, 21, 31 Đuong Thanh street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Cha ca Anh Vu: 120 Giang Vo street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
7. West Lake shrimp cake (Banh tom Ho Tay)
Shrimp cakes, one of top 7 specialties of Hanoi, were sold only on Co Ngu street (the old name of Thanh Nien street) in the past time but now this type of cake are also sold in the luxury restaurants.
However, most of visitors who used to go to Hanoi will eagerly seek a chance to enjoy the specialty West Lake shrimp fried cake in Banh Tom Ho Tay restaurant, not only because of shrimp cake itself, but also for the beautiful scene view at West Lake. It is so great to enjoy delicious shrimp cake here at sunset in summer.
The West lake shrimp cakes are delicious not because they were made from the precious ingredients but it was made with the chef’s love. The cake crust is made from the scrumptious flour. The shrimps are the one grown in Westlake because only this shrimps can bring customers the very unique taste.
Besides, the frying oil is the scrumptious oil also. It was boiled to the suitable degree in order for the cakes do not soak too much oil and has nice look and good taste. The sweetness, aroma of shrimp, the delicious taste of crackers and sour, spicy sauce will remind of the bland flavor at the tip of the tongue. It’s very great if you enjoy shrimp cakes when it is hot because at that time, the cake is very brittle and shrimp is not fishy.
The sauce to eat with this cake is the combination of sweet and sour tastes and cucumber, green papaya, and carrot. The eater could take a bite of the cake together with cold beer, and enjoy the nice smell coming from the stove and the breeze blowing from the lake. Then people may seek somewhere in their memory the fairy tale about the Golden Buffalo on the way looking for his lost mother, which created the West Lake.
Life has changed. The ways of selling and enjoying shrimp fried cakes are also different from the previous ones. However, the shrimp fried pancake of West Lake still keeps its traditional flavor and taste so that whoever wanting to enjoy it will be surprised at the hot, cracker cake dipped in salty, sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
- West Lake shrimp cake: Thanh nien Street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi. Price: 80k – 150k/pax
8. Bread (Banh Mi)
Bread (Banh Mi) – everyone’s favorite snack! The term Banh Mi literally just means “bread” in Vietnamese. So any type of sandwich prepared in the country is referred to by the same name.
You will find, however, that most Banh Mi share a few common ingredients. These include a toasted French baguette, pate, mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, and coriander (cilantro). For your main ingredient you’ll generally have the choice of fried egg, barbeque pork, pork floss, and a variety of mystery meats lined up in their cart.
If you’re feeling adventurous just tell them you want a Banh Mi and you’ll get a mix of everything they have on hand.
If you want to order it without coriander make sure you memorize the phrase “không có rau mùi“!
- Banh Mi 25: 25 Hang Ca street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
9. Egg Coffee (Ca phe trung)
Egg coffee (Ca phe trung) was first invented by Nguyen Giang in 1946. There was a shortage of milk in Hanoi due to the French War. Mr. Giang got creative and began adding whisked eggs to his coffee instead.
The original version was a bit, well, eggy. But over time the recipe was modified with the addition of sugar, condensed milk, and even Laughing Cow cheese (no one knows for sure, it’s a secret recipe). These days Egg Coffee is a staple of Hanoi coffee culture and a must-try while in Hanoi! Read more: Top 10 Best Coffee Shops In Hanoi Old Quarter
What does it taste like? Well, it’s incredibly thick and rich and creamy. Closer to a dessert than a beverage. Liquid tiramisu is the most accurate description we’ve heard.
Nguyen Giang still has a cafe where you can try his famous recipe, or you can grab a cup of Egg Coffee at dozens of coffee shops all over Hanoi. And if you’re heading to Southern Vietnam there is also a burgeoning egg coffee scene in Saigon!
- Giang Cafe: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
- Cafe Dinh: 13 Dinh Tien Hoang street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
10. Fresh beer (Bia Hoi)
Bia Hoi is beer that is brewed fresh each day and allowed to ferment for only a short period of time. This results in a light, crisp beer than typically is just around 3% alcohol. It is then delivered daily to local Bia Hoi joints in metal kegs that are ready to be tapped and served.
You’ll find Bia Hoi down some of Hanoi’s alleyways and backstreets for as little as 6,000 VND for a glass. Expect to pay closer to 11,000 VND at more popular Bia Hoi joints around town.
Drinking Bia Hoi on a tiny plastic stool is a right-of-passage for anyone visiting Vietnam. And while the craft beer scene has been taking hold in Vietnam, most locals still prefer a cheap glass of cold Bia Hoi.
A lot of people will tell you to head straight to Beer Corner (sometimes also called Bia Hoi Junction) in the Old Quarter to get your Bia Hoi fix – makes sense, right? But sadly, none of the bars on Beer Corner actually serve Bia Hoi any longer due to narrow profit margins. Instead, they all serve plain old cans or bottles of Bia Ha Noi, Heineken, and Tiger. Regardless, you should spend an evening hanging out on Beer Corner, even if you can’t get Bia Hoi as it’s always a good time!
- Ta Hien Beer Street – Hanoi Old Quarter
- Bia Hoi Ha Noi: 50 Bat Dan street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bia Hoi Ngcc Linh: 71 Bat Dan street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
When exploring Hanoi’s food scene, be sure to visit local markets, street stalls, and small family-owned eateries to get an authentic taste of Vietnamese cuisine. Don’t be afraid to try something new, as Hanoi has a wide variety of delicious dishes to offer. Right now, you can order a delicious meal at one of the top restaurants in Hanoi.Reserve Now
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