Named in the list of best cities for sweet food by CNN travel magazine, Hanoi is really a haven of awesome street foods. A famous American author, James Michener says “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” So don’t miss your unique chance to explore the old city of Hanoi in your Vietnam trips through its delicious traditional street foods. Below is the top 10 street food you should try in Hanoi, a list of recommended street restaurants and suggested direction from Hoan Kiem Lake. To experience the authentic culinary of Vietnam, book a Vietnam food tour.
Rank first in the list top 10 is “Bun Rieu”, a traditional noodle of Hanoi. It’s a kind of noodles, the soul of most traditional dishes in Hanoi. Once you visit this unique “country of noodles” you would be lost in a lot of kinds of delicious noodles, none of which has the same flavor, they are all exceptional and have their own attraction.
One of them is “Bun Rieu”, noodles soup with blue crabs from rivers and lakes. Local people use this kind of crab to cook many tasty dishes in their daily meals; the most special one is “Bun Rieu”. Unlike “pho” where there are slices of beef or chicken added, the key protein component to this dish is the crab meat mixture which adds flavor as well as texture to the soup. “Bun Rieu” has a very typical and attractive color of tomatoes and fried onions as well as very good smell of crab soup. After served, it can be added a special paste of chilly and sliced fresh vegetables for better look and taste.
Where to eat: No 12 Hang Chinh Street Ngo Phat Loc (morning only) Hang Buom (from 3 pm)
With its power and fame, Pho Bo (beef noodle) is the King of street foods in Vietnam. Having renowned reputation and special legendary, Pho Bo occupies Old quarter as the soul of this ancient area. Cooking Pho Bo is not only normal cuisine; it’s considered an “art”. Making a perfect soup for Pho Bo is not easy at all, even for the people born and grown in Hanoi. It’s said that Pho Bo conveys all the sensitivity and politeness of Hanoians. Only those who have a big and sincere love with the old city of Hanoi can cook a good Pho.
If Hoan Kiem lake and Ngoc Son temple are must-sees in Hanoi, “Pho Bo” is must-taste. Plan to try Pho at least once when you are in Hanoi before continuing your Vietnam trips.
Where to eat: Pho Thin No 61 Dinh Tien Hoang Street Pho Suong No 24 Trung Yen Alley, Dinh Liet Street Pho 33 Nha Chung Street
Photo by Premshree Pillai on Flickr
This dish is really famous to visitors when arriving in Hanoi, only after “Pho”. Most of travelers and expats living in Hanoi are appealed by the exquisite flavor of this noodle with grilled pork. If “Pho Bo” is the King of street foods, then “Bun Cha” is the Queen. The good smell of grilled pork has its own incredible power, it can stop every passenger to taste and enjoy. Passing a street restaurant of “Bun Cha”, you will see some smoke and feel the extremely good smell from the grills fanned manually by some ladies by the pavements. This is the dish that you cannot miss even you only stay in Hanoi for 1 day.
Where to eat: No 55 Hang Ma Street No 1 Hang Manh Street
Vietnamese Sticky rice is for sure one of the best sticky rice you have ever seen. Locals often eat sticky rice for breakfast. Two popular kinds of sticky rice are “Xoi lac” (peanut sticky rice) and “Xoi Xeo”(Sticky Rice with green bean). “Xoi lac” is steamed simply with peanuts and eaten with salted shredded pork or sesame salt while you can distinguish “Xoi Xeo” by its typical yellow color and the smell of oil and fried onion. The main ingredient of “Xoi Xeo” is grinded green bean.
Where to eat: Xoi Yen 35B Nguyen Huu Huan Street
I call “Mi van than” a friendly guest of Vietnamese food which later turns out to be a close family member. Although “Mi Van Than” originates from China, it becomes a traditional Vietnamese dish with many changes in the recipe to suitable with Vietnamese taste. Wonton, in Chinese, literally means “tasting the cloud” as it shape resembles that of the cloud.
It is made by wrapping the wonton dough over the filling, normally minced meat, sometimes minced shrimp. The special Chinese flavor makes this dish a little different from other kinds of Vietnamese noodles. The flavor of this noodle soup is mainly made from fresh shrimp, mushroom, and many special ingredients, creating a typical taste of Oriental cuisine.
Where to eat: No 9 Dinh Liet Street No 54 Hang Chieu Street
Absent from many lists of street food by reputable magazines and travel guides, “Chao Suon” (ribs rice porridge) is, in fact, one of the most popular dishes of Vietnamese. Hanoians usually eat “Chao Suon” for breakfast but nowadays they eat it at any time of the day. It is seen a “friendly” dish having a large number of “fans” as it’s easy to eat for any ages, from children, adults to the old. If you travel with your children, perhaps they will love to try “Chao Suon” as a Hanoi’s kid. It’s very tasty in either summer or winter, normally eaten with deep-fried dough sticks and salted shredded pork.
Where to eat: Ly Quoc Su – Ngo Huyen crossroad
Hanoians call this dish “the favorite food of the old people” as “Banh Cuon” (Steamed Rice Rolls/Crepes) used to be very popular in the past. We often see old ladies and gentlemen enjoying their favorite foods for years in street restaurants of “Banh Cuon”. It’s very interesting to watch the Vietnamese make “Banh Cuon”. You are able to see how they make this special rice cake as they normally have it “tailor-made” upon request when you come in the “street restaurants”. Banh Cuon can be made extremely thin because it’s steamed over a fabric covered pot which can quickly cook the rice flour, keeping it moist and workable. Served with plenty of steamed bean sprouts and fried onions, Vietnamese traditional ham and a kind of special fish sauce, “Banh cuon” is indeed a very unique and interesting food to try in your trip to Hanoi. Some restaurants nowadays also serve steam eggs with rice rolls, don’t forget to call it to taste in case you have a chance to pass by a “Banh Cuon” restaurant. Just call steamed eggs “Trung Hap”, the sellers will immediately understand what you would like.
Where to eat: No 72 Hang Bo Street No 68 Hang Cot Street
“Pho Ga” (Chicken Noodle soup) appeared after “Pho Bo” but it has its own flavor. The pure soup of boiled chickens, the good smell of mushroom makes this dish also an elegant food. When people would like to look for something fresher, purer than the strong favor and odor of “Pho Bo”, they come to “Pho Ga” to balance their taste and enjoy the essence of Hanoi cuisine. A little fresh lemon-lime, some sliced lemon leaves are enough to make “Pho Ga” appeal travelers.
Where to eat: No 67 Lan Ong Street No 15 Hang Hom Street
This is not a traditional dish of Vietnamese people; however, it cannot be missed in your list of food addresses if you stay in Hanoi for a long time. After trying too much delicious but “strange” Vietnamese cuisine, you must “miss” a little Western flavor. “Banh my Bit Tet” is a perfect choice.
Once you try this dish, you will see a brilliant combination of Vietnamese and Western cuisine. The beef is not cooked as exactly the same as beef steak in the West but added some other ingredients to make a Vietnamese dish. Although each restaurant has their own variation in a recipe, a normal dish of “Bit Tet” includes fried beef, some pâté, sunny side up eggs, fried potatoes, onions, and a tasty sauce.
Where to eat: No 38 Dinh Liet Street Bit tet Ba Duy No 6 Hoe Nhai Street Bit tet Hai Ty No 20 Hang Giay Street
Photo by Quang Nguyen
The most popular dessert in Hanoi is sweet. Vietnamese sweets are different from famous Thai sweets. They tend to be purer and less sweet than Thai’s. When most of Thai sweets have a lot of greasy coconut milk, Vietnamese traditional sweets are more “gentle” with beans, lotus seed, jellies, etc. There are more and more new recipes of sweets with colorful jelly and different ingredients, however, the traditional sweets such as green bean, black bean, and longan lotus seeds sweet are still keeping their own attraction with Hanoians.
Where to eat: Bon Mua local restaurant at no 4 Hang Can Street Dong Xuan Market Alley Dinh Liet – Hang Bac crossroad