Defined by its contrast of fresh and earthy flavours, Vietnamese cuisine is a unique culinary experience, and each city has subtle variations. However, navigating the local language to understand the dishes can be daunting for any visitor. So, here’s our list of restaurants and street food dishes to look out for on your next trip to Hanoi. Self-confessed gourmands may want to start with a food tour, such as the one done by HA Food Tours.
Pho 10, Hang Trong
For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Vietnamese food is Pho, or noodle soup. Pho 10 brings out the best in the dish, showcasing the depth and breadth of regional variety. Although a relatively new restaurant compared to some others that have been around for decades, there’s a reason Pho 10 has elevated itself to a brand name so quickly - and the proof is in the noodles!
Address: 10 P. Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Banh Mi 25, P.Hang Ca
Banh Mi 25 gets its name from 25 Hang Ca street, where this small family-run stall was originally located. From these humble beginnings serving traditional pork buns, they have since expanded into a larger space in the same neighbourhood, complete with seating areas that allow diners to fully experience the ambience of the historic Old Quarter. Well-loved by travellers and locals alike, this is an excellent stop for a quick snack, a leisurely meal, and everything in between.
Address: 25 P. P.Hàng Cá, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Re Cafe, Hang Bac
Located within the Re Hostels, this eatery’s claim to fame is its seafood. From fish rolls to fish noodles, the dishes are executed to melt-in-the-mouth perfection. With a relaxed atmosphere and rooftop bar, Re is an absolute must for all seafood lovers out there.
Address: 8 Ng. Trung Yên, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Blue Butterfly, P.Ma May
Founded in 2006, the Blue Butterfly offers traditional Vietnamese food with a fusion spin, as well as cooking classes and market visits. Plan to eat a sit-down meal, including fine wines and custom cocktails. But go here for the rice pancakes, which are a surefire standout on the menu.
Address: 69, P.Ma May, Hoàn Kiếm Hanoi City, Vietnam
Timings: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Cai Mam, Hang Gai
With a focus on authenticity and preserving traditional home-cooking flavours, Cai Mam is the destination for those looking for the true taste of Vietnam. Their menu features a broad variety, from pho to banh mi, but the grilled fish is a staple that’s a guaranteed win. Plan ahead and reserve a table if you can - mealtimes often see high demand.
Address: 07 P. Lương Văn Can, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Bun Cha Dac Kim, Hang Gai
Although their menu is famously limited to just two dishes - bun cha and spring rolls - this little hole in the wall is well worth the trip. Bun cha consists of grilled pork served with rice vermicelli, along with other greens and dipping sauces. A mainstay of Vietnamese cuisine, this dish is an absolute delicacy when done well in spite of its simplicity.
Address: 1 P. Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Chayfood, Hang Bac
For all the vegans out there: fear not! Chayfood is a relatively new establishment in the heart of Hanoi, dedicated to offering fully vegan variations of traditional Vietnamese fare. And meat-eaters will vouch that they are delicious. You’ll also find more modern items on the menu, including an assortment of delectable yet healthy desserts.
Address: 66 P. Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Beer Street, Hang Buom
A favourite for travellers and locals alike, Beer Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter offers the best of the city’s nightlife jam-packed into one locale. Come nightfall, the street is lined with small stalls serving beer fresh from the keg as well as local bottled varieties, along with street food stalls and busking musicians. Be sure to plan ahead for transport.
Address: Tạ Hiện, P. Lương Ngọc Quyến, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Timings: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Green Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky, Hang Bac
A popular dish with street cart vendors across the city, it combines the freshness of raw papaya with the rich meaty flavours of beef jerky for a well-rounded eating experience. Variations may include different proteins, such as shrimp, or the addition of raw mango. For vegetarians, omitting the jerky will still allow you to get a taste of this typical Vietnamese snack. Try it at 23 near the lake.
Address: 23 P. Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Timings: 7.a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Banh Ran (Sticky Rice Doughnuts)
Originating in northern Vietnam, this street food delicacy is a true indulgence and is available everywhere - on pushcarts, bicycles, and mobile stalls around the lake. Sweetened mung bean paste is flavoured with jasmine essence and then coated in rice flour and sesame seeds before being deep fried, making for a satisfying crunch. The variation from the south, Banh Can, is very similar except for the jasmine essence, and savoury variations with pork or carrots are also typically available.
Cha Gio/Nem Ran (Fried Spring Rolls)
Although very similar to the spring rolls you may be familiar with, Cha Gio’s subtle differences in ingredients and preparation create a unique taste and texture. Typically eaten as an appetiser or snack, this dish is made from pork or vegetables, mushrooms, and glass noodles wrapped in Vietnamese dried rice paper and deep fried. Dip in spicy chilli sauce for a stingingly delicious bite!
Bot Chien (Fried Rice Balls)
If you’re sensing a theme of the deep fried in this list, it’s with good reason! Bot Chien, or fried rice balls, are made with rice flour and tapioca dough that is steamed, then deep fried and doused in a salty-sweet vinegar sauce that zings off the palate. With its trademark crispness on the outside and softness within, this dish is sure to leave a lasting impression.