Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, has plenty of sights to appeal to visitors – Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One-Pillar Pagoda, the old quarter with its bustling streets – but if you really want to understand the Vietnamese people and their culture, you’ll need to delve deep into its street food.
Hanoi’s food scene can be overwhelming with its mix of smells and tastes but it’s well worth exploring since it’s one of the freshest, healthiest and most flavorful cuisines in the world.
Let us guide you to five of the hottest spots where you can eat like (and together with) the locals.
Banh Cuon Gia Truyen – one of popular street food in Hanoi
14 Pho Hang Ga | Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
Banh cuon is one of Hanoi’s favorite breakfast items and essential to any list of must-try Vietnamese dishes.
By itself, the pale white rice batter is silky smooth and soft but otherwise rather bland. Flavor and texture come from a filling of seasoned ground pork, mushrooms, and shallots. The rice noodle roll isserved with a separate bowl of clear amber dipping sauce, nước chấm, which is essentially fish sauce.
Banh Tom Ho Tay
1 Thanh Nien, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Banh Tom is another Vietnamese dish originating from Hanoi. It’s made of battered and deep-fried sweet potato and shrimp.
The bright orange color comes from the natural flesh of the sweet potato and a bit of turmeric powder in the batter. Often served as an appetizer, Banh Tom is commonly wrapped with lettuce, herbs, and pickled vegetables and dipped in nuoc mam cham dipping sauce.
Bia Hoi Ha Noi9B TA Hien, Hanoi, Vietnam
Bia hoi is a special type of homemade beer, unpreserved, brewed daily and delivered in kegs to local businesses. Unlike canned or bottled beer, Bia hoi should be consumed the day after it leaves the factory. It’s brand-less and very cheap compared to Western-style beers.
Bia Hoi Ha Noi is a classic Vietnamese beer garden, perfect for late sunny afternoons. It’s well-shaded and has plenty of whirring fans to keep you cool.
Pho Gia Truyen
49 Bat Dan | Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
Locals form a long queue every morning at Pho Gia Truyen, the most famous place in the old quarter for a delicious bowl of Pho Bo.
Pho Bo is arguably the most well-known of all Vietnamese soups. It was inspired by French settlers who commonly ate beef, where Vietnamese traditionally preferred pork, chicken, and fish (whilst using cattle as work animals). Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of soup kitchens has risen significantly and Pho Bo has become the favorite dish for breakfast and dinner in Hanoi, and throughout Vietnam.
15 Chan Cam, Hanoi, Vietnam
Located in the heart of the old quarter, Madame Hien is a stunning, century-old Hanoian villa dishing up meals that celebrate Vietnamese ancestral culture, artisanal foods, and regional knowledge accumulated over a thousand years. Try the crab noodle soup, banana flower salad, and famous fresh summer rolls.