If you travel to eat, Hanoi has to be high up on your bucket list. This bustling city located in the North of Vietnam is home to some of the tastiest street food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Slurping noodles whilst perched on a plastic stool by the side of the road is a standard breakfast in this part of the world, and Hanoi offers so many unique eating experiences. If you’ve already read Part 1 of my Hanoi Guide which covers how to get there, where to stay and what to do, then you can’t miss part 2 which revolves around food!
You can thank Vietnam’s unique blend of Asian and French culture for the Banh Mi – a filled bread roll which is the perfect lunch on the go. Head to Banh Mi 25 (5 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi) for a range of fresh, tasty rolls. The bread is freshly baked and inside you will find it liberally spread with pate and mayonnaise, cold cut meats, pickled carrots and daikon. It’s finished off with a dash of fish sauce and coriander and a sprinkle of chilli. It was so good I ate at Banh Mi 25 two days in a row!
Another favourite meal of mine in Hanoi is Bun Cha which is a grilled pork and noodle dish. Head to Bun Cha Dac Kim (1 Hang Manh Street, Hanoi) or Bun Cha Huong Lien (24 Le Van Huu, Hanoi) and pull up a seat. Soon enough you will be surrounded with various plates of grilled pork, rice noodles, fried spring rolls lettuce and fresh herbs. Serve as much or as little as you like into your own bowl and enjoy! (And can we please talk about how much raw garlic and chilli the man sitting across from me was putting in his bowl!)
Possibly Vietnam’s most famous export, Pho (pronounced “fur”) is a cheap, filling and tasty soup traditionally served at breakfast. The rich and fragrant broth is made from boiling beef bones with spices over a long period of time, and it’s served with meat and rice noodles. A final scattering of herbs and onion is all you need to enjoy this delightful dish. And don’t worry if you’re not an early bird, due to its popularity, this dish is now served from morning to late at night. For a great bowl of soup, head to Pho Bat Dan (49 Bat Dan, Hanoi) or Pho 10 (10 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hanoi).
Pho Xao and Pho Chien Phong
For some unique pho-inspired dishes that you may not have tried before (I hadn’t) you must head to Pho Cuon Huong Mai (25 Ngu Xa Street, Hanoi). I was taken there by a local guide before we boarded the train to SaPa. Pho Xao is a stir fried beef noodle dish – it uses the same ingredients as the Pho soup, however there is no broth and the noodles are deep fried. Another dish is Pho Chien Phong (the main photo below) which is similar to Pho Xao but is served with thick square of deep fried noodles. This restaurant also offers a healthier take on pho in the form of Pho Cuon, which are rice paper rolls filled with beef, lettuce and herbs.
Banh Cuon involves a thin and delicate rice pancake which is stuffed with a mix of minced pork, mushrooms and shallot. It’s eaten with Nuoc Cham, a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and water. I was mesmerised by the lady effortlessly spreading and flipping the pancakes out the front of Banh Cuon Gia Truyen Restaurant (12 Hang Ga Street, Hanoi) – this takes serious practice!
Hoa Qua Dam
The Vietnamese love fruit salad so much they have a street dedicated to it. If you’re hanging out for a refreshing fruit-based dessert, head to To Tich street. I got a bowl of Hoa Qua Dam from Hoa Beo (17 To Tich, Hanoi) which is a chopped fruit dessert served with shaved ice, coconut cream and condensed milk. It’s the perfect way to end a day of eating in Hanoi, especially when it’s hot and humid.
It may sound weird, but Egg Coffee is one of the most delicious and unique drinks I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. This drink was created by Giang Cafe (No.39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hanoi) during a period in Vietnam’s history when dairy was scarce. Instead of adding milk to their coffee, they decided to combine raw egg and sugar together to create a creamy dairy substitute. These days the drink contains egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee, and it’s almost like drinking liquid tiramisu! I loved it so much I figured out how to make it at home, get the recipe here.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Coconut Coffee
Coffee is a big deal in Vietnam, and in addition to the divine egg coffee mentioned above, they serve up Vietnamese iced coffee (black, strong coffee with a thick layer of condensed milk) and coconut coffee, served with coconut milk. Cong Caphe is a cafe chain with numerous locations around Hanoi that serves up an amazing cup of coconut coffee!
Another great cafe serving up delicious coffee and great desserts is The Note (64 Luong Van Can, Hang Trong, Hoang Mai, Hanoi). The staff here are incredibly friendly and they give you a handwritten note with your order (cute!!) You are then encouraged to write your own note on a post-it and add it to the thousands of other notes adorning the walls, chairs, tables.. you name it.
I hope this article has you salivating and booking yourself a flight to Hanoi. Happy eating!