Hanoi is famous for its unique cultural feature, everyone know this. Hanoi is also famous for Hanoi street food, most of the people know this too. However, what to eat and where to find the best of Vietnam cuisine, only a few have the list. We’re not saying we have the best list out there, but as local experts and food lovers, you take in our consideration the safety factor and provide the best options for an exciting Hanoi street food tour.
Overview of Hanoi and Hanoi Street Food
Even if you want to try all the best dishes of Hanoi cuisine, you’ll have to spend a month wandering in Hanoi. However, if you only have a limited time budget, even under 1 week, you still can enjoy what are the quintessential dishes of Hanoi cuisine.
The thing that make Hanoi street food special isn’t only the food but it’s rather how they eat and the intimate atmosphere when enjoy street food dishes. To put it simply, eating out in Hanoi is a communal experience.
Everywhere you would see the busy, narrow lanes and corners of Hanoi which can be overwhelmed to those travelers who are not familiar with the chaotic way of life in Hanoi yet. Everything seems to be spinning when you set foot in the famous Hanoi Old Quarter.
But this place is exactly where the magic happen. Shop, restaurants, eateries and café are just everywhere you go. Here and there you can see the eaters sitting on the plastic stools on the pavement slurping down a steaming bowl or leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee. And very soon, you would be a part of that picture too.
What to eat and where to find Hanoi street food
Yes, we keep saying it: Hanoi is known for its street food. And finding good food in Hanoi shouldn’t be a challenge at all. And remember, eating Hanoi street food is among the best things to do in Hanoi.
Pho (Noodle Soup)
Arguably the most famous Vietnamese dish out there (arguably, because of, you know, banh mi) and the most eaten dish in Vietnam by tourists. You can try great Pho even out of Vietnam, Pho is that famous and loved. But Pho in Hanoi is the real thing, and that’s why the first thing every traveler do when come to Hanoi is to find the best Pho restaurants here.
A steaming bowl of freshly made rice noodles are soaked the transparent broth which might look simple and even bland to your eyes, but is, in fact, composed of a selections of spices like star anise and cinnamon and cooked in a hours to achieve the taste. Pho is topped with very tender beef or chicken meat, a lot of onions, coriander and red peppers.
Pho is originated in Hanoi and has been around for years. You can find a Pho restaurant everywhere and the price might be varied but with just US $2, you can have a delicious bowl of Pho.
*Where to eat Pho:
- Pho Thin, 13 Lo Duc, Hanoi
- Pho Bat Dan, 49 Bat Dan, Hanoi
- Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi
Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh Spring roll is the easiest dish to enjoy with a lot of variations, even the vegetarian version. The original version of this yummy food consists of pork, prawn, vegetables and bun (rice vermicelli) and other ingredients wrapped in a Vietnamese banh trang (rice papers).
All the good stuff will be wrapped nicely in the rice paper then dipped into a tuong xao or hoisin sauce which consists of ground tuong and mixed coconut water before being stir-fried with garlic and some sugar and then sprinkled with chili powder and ground peanuts.
Where to eat Fresh Spring Rolls:
- Noodle & Roll, 39C Ly Quoc Su, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Wrap & Rolls, 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem Hanoi
Ban Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls)
A famous Hanoi street food for breakfast you can’t miss. This dish is nothing much but still can make you remember it for its wonderful flavor. The steamed rice papers are rolled loosely and put on a plate. You use chopsticks to dip these rolls into a savory bowl of dipping sauce containing a fired chopped meat patties and pork ribs soaked in a diluted fish sauce with fried shallots and red peppers.
The dish can be found everywhere you go, and almost all the early restaurants have it.
Where to eat Banh Cuon:
- Banh Cuon Ba Hanh, 26B Tho Xuong, Hanoi
- Banh Cuon Thanh Van, 12-14 Hang Ga, Hanoi
- Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh, 66 To Hien Thanh, Bui Thi Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Bun Cha (Grilled Pork & Noodles)
There’re not many Bun Cha restaurants oversea but this dish can easily compete for the top three of most beloved Hanoi street food dishes. Hanoians can eat Bun Cha like, everyday and can’t get enough of it.
For those who love grilled pork and meat patties, Bun Cha is the dish you would love. You’ll be served a plate of bun and a bowl of fish sauce and full of grilled pork and patties and a plate of herbs. You’ll dip the noodles into the fish sauce bowl and eat the noodles with the grilled pork.
Bun Cha has been known for a while after Anthony Bourdain and President Obama came to a Bun Cha restaurant for a quick lunch.
Where to eat Bun Cha:
- Bun Cha Huong Lien, 24 Le Van Huu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
- Bun Cha Hang Quat, 74 Hang Quat, Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong
An entire street is named after a dish, the impact alone guaranteed the quality of the food. Once listed as one of ‘the dishes you have to try before you die’ by CNN. Cha Ca La Vong involves pan-fried chunks of meaty, fatty skinned fish with turmeric, dill, peanuts and shrimp paste, eaten with bun.
The quality of the chopped fish is the key of this dish. The making of Cha Ca La Vong is kept a secret by the family who invented this dish. If you’ve tried almost all the famous dishes in Hanoi, Cha Ca La Vong might be the unique taste to go for.
Where to eat:
- Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca, Hanoi
- Cha Ca Phan, 84 Tran Quoc Toan, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Banh Mi needs no introduction since its population has gone worldwide. Even though Banh Mi in Hoi An is praised as the best Banh Mi in Vietnam, but you can still find pretty good Banh Mi in Hanoi.
The dish is tasty, with a wide variety, easy to grab one if you suddenly crave for it. Westerners often find it an interesting fusion of European cuisine and Vietnamese food. A French baguette in Vietnam is used as a wrap for all the local good stuff like prickled vegetable, marinated grilled pork or chicken, and accompanied with coriander.
It hits just like a feast of flavors in your mouth and the more bites you take, the more delicious Banh Mi will be.
Where to eat Banh Mi:
- Banh Mi 25, 25 Hang Ca
- Banh Mi P, 12 Hang Buom
- Bami Bread, 98 Hang Bac
Recommended Hanoi Street Food Tour
If you’re staying around Hanoi Old Quarter, a simple stroll can be a street food tour.
But it’s best if you can use this chance to explore the capital of Vietnam at night as well. We suggest you can take a cooking class in the morning with a detour to a local market to shop for the ingredients. This is a great chance to see the local life up close. Wet market is an essential part in Asian culture.
You’ll be learning about 4 dishes to cook for lunch, they’re all Vietnam’s best dishes. A chef will guide you through it and give you the tips.
After lunch, it’s time for a small walking tour in Hanoi Old Quarter. A show of puppetry will be a great intermission before the street food tour.
When it’s time for dinner, walk around the streets of Old Quarter to search for Banh Cuon, grilled BBQ, and city’s most famous ice cream.
For more detailed itinerary, see here: