When it comes to naming your favourite Vietnamese dish, most of us will probably mention Pho. But there’s really more to it than just rice noodles and beef. In our recent trip to Hanoi, we came across tons of street vendors and restaurants selling traditional Vietnamese dishes. We observed that most of these eateries have a stark difference between each in terms of the patrons – several stalls are only frequent by locals while some are heavily-populated with tourists. While there are several recommendations and places to eat out there, here’s our list of Vietnamese food you must try in Hanoi, and where to get them!
1. Bun Cha (Grilled Pork with Vermicelli)
Looking for something savoury, starchy, and a balance of sweet and salty? This is it. With the combination of white rice vermicelli, grilled pork and sweet dipping sauce. Before coming to Hanoi, we didn’t know this unlikely combination existed. We saw many people trying it on the streets and trust us, this is a must try. This is by far our favourite dish and my personal favourite meal in Hanoi. We tried several Bun Cha over the days and we both concluded that the one at Bun Cha Dac Kim was the best. The grilled pork was not too fatty or oily and was very juicy.
Bun Cha Dac Kim
Address: 1 Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
2. Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
I would say that Banh Mi, is like your typical Subway sandwich, but even better. There’s something different and delicious about it, could be the sauce or the really warm and crispy bread. If you are short on time and looking for a satisfying meal, recommend trying the one over at Banh Mi 25. You can tell that the store is really popular with locals and tourists as it was packed with a queue forming even when we arrived at 8pm. Banh Mi is suitable for those who are not yet used to the Vietnamese cuisine (with the typical herbs and spices added to most of its dishes). It’s customizable with ham, paté, marinated meat, egg, oyster mushrooms, cheese, special sauce and many other ingredients.
We tried three different versions:
- Banh mi with paté and cheese
- Banh mi with roasted sliced pork and cheese
- Banh mi with oyster mushroom, egg and cheese
A really great thing we must share is that when ordering takeaway, they’ll be happy to pack the vegetable separately from the sandwich upon request. Just in case you would like to pack it overnight to have it the next morning on your flight back home.
Banh Mi 25
Address: 25 Hàng Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
3. Che Xue Shan (Similar to black ball dessert)
There are several TOCO TOCO outlets in Hanoi, and I think the best outlet has got to be the one facing the Hoan Kiem lake. It’s really a scenic and romantic place, and there’s even an outdoor balcony on the third and fourth level. The bowl of Che Xue Shan is similar to a typical black ball dessert. There are several types you can choose from which costs around 69,000 VND each. There’s no English translation for the ingredients so we went ahead with our gut feeling based on pictures alone. Turned out to be the right choice, it was a truly indulgent dessert. The bowl comes with a generous topping of red bean, sweet potato, yam, jelly and milk.
Address: 114 Cau Go, Hang Bac, Hanoi, Vietnam
4. Egg Coffee
Recommend heading to Giang Cafe to try their egg coffee, as early as you can in the day. We love the extreme richness of the egg and condensed milk, and the bitterness from their popular Vietnamese coffee, Cong Caphe. We also had a go at making our very own egg coffee during our Hanoi cooking class experience at Apron Up Cooking Class. Check out our full cooking experience and how we went about booking via Klook HERE.
Address: 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
5. Nem (Spring Roll)
This is a must try and is available at many eateries in Hanoi. We often ordered a plate of nem as a side dish during our meals. The combination of cut up noodle pieces, chicken, shrimp, eggs, carrot and mushrooms wrap in rice paper, then deep-fried is simply satisfying. We also made nem during our cooking class in Hanoi!
You can order Nem from many street vendors in Hanoi.
6. Papaya Salad
One of the more underrated salads we had on board the Imperial Cruise, the Vietnamese rendition of the papaya salad has pretty refreshing tangy flavours as compared to the Thai version – with a hint of lemon, basil and coriander leaves. There’s also a little bit more texture from the julienne green papaya, carrots and cucumbers, and the spicy dried shrimp! You can get this at many stalls around Hanoi, the one we tried was on board the Imperial Cruise while cruising through Halong Bay.
On board Imperial Cruise.
7. Pho Bo (Beef and Noodle Soup)
Of course, having a bowl of pho is a must while in Vietnam. The standout factor for us is definitely the broth, slurping down the soup with those tender slices of beef or chicken. There’s also the arduous process simmering the beef bones for hours before serving. We got our cravings for pho sorted at the Thanh Hop Restaurant. It was a by-chance find just by casually walking around. The eatery was very busy even at pass 10pm, with many customers still eating and placing their orders. We ordered the Pho Bo (35,000 VND) here and some spring rolls. The broth tastes slightly lighter and not overly salty, a healthier version than the usual ones.
Thanh Hop Restaurant
Address: 12 Dinh Liet Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
8. Pho Ga (Chicken and Noodle Soup)
Craving for a bowl of Pho Ga (Vietnamese chicken noodles soup) – light, fragrant and wonderfully tender rice noodles. It’s nearby the Hoan Kiem Lake area too if you’re looking for a good place to have some comfort food after a morning stroll ☀️
Along Hoan Kiem Lake area
Address: 40 Cầu Gỗ, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hànoi, Vietnam
9. Pho Tron / Mien Tron (Glass noodle salad)
Our first meal in Hanoi which we chanced upon just off a street. We tried the Pho Tron and Mien Tron – both dishes are pretty similar with sliced chicken and soy sauce, only difference is the type of noodles (rice and cassava). A simple looking but very flavourful dish
Bin & Tom
Address: 26 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam
10. Tofu With Tomato Sauce
This particular tofu dish was often served during our shared meals while on Cat Ba Island. A simple looking dish, the deeply flavoured tomato sauce pairs well with the puffed-up tofu and was quite delicious on its own or with rice.
Cat Ba Island
Address: Cát Bà Island, Trân Châu, Cát Hải, Haiphong, Vietnam Ba Island
11. Nuoc Cham Oysters
We had a Vietnamese dinner spread for our last night on Cat Ba Island. We’re not exactly sure if you can find this in Hanoi but we’re certain you can get it at Cat Ba Island. We don’t usually eat oysters but their rendition here, the Nuoc Cham Oysters is pretty amazing – sweet, fresh and succulent!
Draco QK3 Hotel
Address: 251 Một Tháng Tư, Cát Bà, Vietnam
With lots of love,
An Affair With Food