Hanoi Street Food Guide
Updated on the 5/4/2020
No one can deny that Hanoi is truly a foodie’s paradise. Hanoi street food is a true dream.
From the mouthwatering Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) to the scrumptious bowl of Bun Cha (Grilled Pork with Vermicelli), the Vietnamese capital has got everything to offer!
There are literally hundreds of traditional food in Vietnam, and all of them taste so good!
Don’t have enough time to sample them all? Don’t you worry if you are only staying for a short while in Hanoi because I’ve got you covered with this list of 9 must-try Hanoi street food!
Bun Cha (Grilled pork with vermicelli)
Bun Cha is among the first few meals I had in Hanoi.
I am lucky to have met true love so quickly.
This traditional Vietnamese dish is thought to have originated from Northern Vietnam. It’s not hard to find Bun Cha in Hanoi, but it is a bit tricky to find a good one.
They will serve you with an array of sides. A big plate of herbs is commonly served to balance the strong flavour of the pork out. To me, I think it is a psychological excuse for you to balance the fattiness of the grilled goodness out. Use the herbs liberally because it gives a kick to the grilled pork. Vermicelli is served on a separate plate, along with fresh chillies, garlic, lime and a bowl of dipping sauce.
The soup is not a broth. It’s more like a half soup, half dipping sauce mixture.
With fish sauce and lime, the spellbinding soup complement the pork and bring it to another level. At first, I thought it’s absurd to have the perfectly grilled pork soaked in a bowl of soup. But when I had my first bite, oh my lord. I think I became high when I was eating it.
I would say this Hanoi street food is my personal favourite.
Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
The Vietnamese sandwich is a product of the French Colonialism.
Banh Mi was originally prepared in a really French way with pâté, baguettes, mayonnaise when the French were around. It was a dish for the French to satisfy their western belly when they got homesick.
However, lower down in the social pyramid, the Vietnamese couldn’t afford it. So, they would prepare it in a cheaper way by incorporating fresh Vietnamese produce like carrot, cucumber, grilled pork.
So they mix the ingredients around and voila! Here comes the mighty Banh Mi which is loved by the world!
It is so famous that the word “Banh Mi” was accepted to be included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011! How can you not try this typical Hanoi street food where it all started!
Banh Phu The (Vietnamese dessert with mung beans)
I don’t have a sweet tooth. So when you see a dessert on my list, you can imagine how delicious it is!!
Banh phu the is a traditional Vietnamese dessert that signifies the sweetness of love between husband and wife. Normally, this dessert is given out during a wedding reception.
This gorgeous dessert is made with rice flour and it’s stuffed with mung bean paste. I’m amazed by how good this cute fellow is. The covering dough is normally infused with pandan or other ingredients which adds a subtle taste to it. This balances out the sweet mung bean paste filling.
Obviously, it’s hard to have just one.
Cha Gio (Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll)
When people migrate to another country, they bring their food with them.
That explains why Vietnamese fried spring roll has acquired fame internationally. You probably will not be surprised that the spring rolls are actually on the list.
There are many kinds of spring rolls in Vietnam. Something worth mentioning about Cha Gio is, it’s the pan fried version of spring roll. The ingredients are different from the steamed, translucent-skinned spring rolls. And I think it’s so much better from the steamed ones.
Cha Gio is a very typical Hanoi street food and it can be found in numerous restaurants in Hanoi.
Cha Ca (Grilled and deep fried fish with rice noodle)
With a coastline that stretches up to 3,260 km, Vietnam is blessed with an abundance of
party beaches fresh seafood.
To be honest, if my local friend didn’t tell me about Cha Ca, I probably wouldn’t know about this dish ever. Cha Ca is among the few traditional Hanoian dishes that uses fish.
The fish (normally catfish) is first marinated with turmeric and other ingredients.
After frying it, the waiter will sauté the fish with a generous amount of green onions, leeks and other herbs at your table to maintain the freshness of the fish.
They will then serve you with a bowl of fermented small shrimps (which I do not like). The most Hanoian way to eat this is to use your chopsticks to take a bit of the shrimp, put in on top of your piece of fish and then eat it.
This is not the most common street food so you have to find the good one. I had it at Cha Ca Anh Vu and I definitely recommend you going there!
Banh Ran (Fried pastry filled with mung bean paste)
Banh ran is a deep-fried glutinous rice ball coated with sesame seeds.
This dish is thought to have originated from northern Vietnam. The filling (mung bean paste) is scented with jasmine flower essence. It’s one of the most popular local snacks, and also the cheapest!
I had this piece of Banh ran along the street food street in the old quarter of Hanoi.
It was scorching hot and I got an ulcer the very next day! But it was totally worth it. Lemme warn you: It is VERY addictive.
Pho Ga Tron (Vermicelli with Shredded Chicken)
Okay, I have to say that I totally underestimated this dish.
Pho Ga Tron is a common street food in Hanoi. It is an inexpensive, quick and simple dish.
That’s why it’s loved by everyone, especially people who’re always in a rush.
With a touch of lime, Pho Ga Tron is really refreshing. In summer months, it’s best when served with cool vermicelli. In winter, you can enjoy Pho Ga Tron in a bowl of hearty broth.
This typical Hanoi street food can be found in a lot of places. I had this particular one at the “Street Food Street” near Central Backpacker’s hostel.
Not only it’s totally instagrammable, it’s also ultra tasty! Also, find out the best instagrammable points in Vietnam here!
Hanoian Egg Coffee (Cà phê trung)
Don’t freak out! It’s really good!
In fact, there are some other countries that put eggs in their coffees as well (read: the Scandinavian countries). And no sweetie, they didn’t just crack an egg into the coffee and drink it.
In fact, they discard the egg white and only use the egg yolk to prepare the coffee.
After whisking it with sweet milk, they pour the mixture into the hot coffee which cooks the egg. It’s so fluffy and it will blow your mind.
I am not a coffee person but this is definitely my kind of coffee. One has never been to Hanoi unless they have tried the (in)famous Hanoian Egg Coffee! The famous one is at Café Giang and it’s really good.
PS: It tasted more like a dessert than a coffee, though.
Pho (Vietnamese soup noodle with beef broth)
Of course, let’s end the list with the most cliché Vietnamese dish. Cool fact, pho is from Hanoi!
If you don’t know what’s pho (pronounced as ‘fur’ without the ‘r’), it’s basically rice noodle in piping hot beef broth, topped with thin slices of raw beef and fresh herbs. This is the perfect companion during winter in Hanoi.
Don’t tell me that you have been to Hanoi without trying Pho!
My best advice yet:
Where to stay?
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With less than 25 USD, you will be able to stay in a super comfy bed in a fancy boutique hotel located at the edge of the Old Quarter. The room is super spacious - one of the best steals in the Old Quarter as they are mostly pricey!
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