Food & Drinks

Most people will be dazzled by how many varieties of foods are at sight in Hanoi. If you don’t know the basics, below are some ideas for a start. It is not boastful to say that Hanoi Old Quarter is the best place to fill your tummy in Vietnam.

1. Pho (Noodle soup)

A trip to Hanoi will never be complete until you try a tasty bowl of Pho. This fragrant soup is traditionally eaten in the morning, almost on a daily basis. It looks deceivingly easy with noodles, soup and some beef filling. Eaters will have to add some chili, lime and bean sprouts to their liking. This soup is favorite especially in cold winter days when your grumbling stomach want something hot to warm up.

2. Bun cha (Grilled Pork & Noodles)

Though hardly received recognition like the famous Pho, Bun cha is one of the must-try dish. This dish is especially eaten during lunch time. You will never have to guess where can it be found, just let your nose guide you to the tempting scent if sizzling frilled pork. You can see the cook fanning away the pork over smouldering embers, with the sound of fat burning away. Once you eat the BBQ pork with fish sauce broth, cold noodles, you will get hooked.

3. Banh My (Baguette Sandwich)

The baguette is one of the enduring symbols of French colonialism. It’s given a Southeast Asian twist by stuffing it with pâté, mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, hot green chilli pepper and gobs of cold cuts. But the Banh My is basically a blank slate to which cooks can add whatever they desire.

4. Bun Oc (Snail Noodle Soup)

Slow-moving sea snails are cherished in Hanoi, where they’re served in a steaming noodle soup with a tomato-based broth.

5. Bun rieu (Crab Noodle Soup)

Consider this the love child of Pho, tomato soup and the sea. The noodle soup is composed of a tomato-based broth filled with plenty of crab and bobbing chunks of tomato.

6. Banh cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls)

This dish exemplifies the Northern Vietnamese cuisine philosophy: a balance of different flavors and texture. Banh cuon is a silky-soft steamed rice pancakes. It wraps around minced pork and black mushrooms filling. The dish is eaten with fried shallots and fragrant herbs. From the look of the tiny street kitchen, one could have overlook. The dish is warm and light, perfect to start the day right.

7. Cha ca (Grilled & Fried Fish with Rice Noodles)

Chunks of fish are anointed with plenty of turmeric, then sizzled with heaps of dill and served with rice noodles. It’s a fragrant delight.

8. Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake)

Made with turmeric and plenty of coconut milk, the crispy rice-flour crepe classically encases shrimp, pork, onions and perhaps sprouts too. It’s also served with a garden’s worth of herbs.

9. Bia Hoi ( Draught Beer)

Draft beer is sacred to Vietnam, where tipplers wile away the hours sipping on this crisp, unpasteurized and unfiltered lager—its name roughly translates to “fresh beer”—that’s usually sold for about 25 cents a mug. Go on, have four. You’d need to drink gallons to get drunk.

10. Spring Rolls (fresh and fried!)

I don’t know about you, but I love spring rolls! In Hanoi, you will find a both fried and fresh spring rolls everywhere you go. The fresh rolls that we tried were filled with an assortment of vegetables and peanuts — delicious! We also had quite a few deep fried spring rolls, which had veggies, pork, and of course dipping sauce! This is a great way to start off any meal!

11.  Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung) 

If you enjoy coffee, you’ll want to try the famous Vietnamese egg coffee. This delicious drink is made by beating eggs and sugar into coffee. It’s sweet and creamy and worth the try! I tried one on the rooftop deck of Cafe Pho Co. While this cafe is a little difficult to find, it offers a great place to relax while enjoying a nice view! This drink is very savory, so it’s the perfect afternoon treat or after-dinner dessert.

12.  Pho Cuon (Rice Noodle Rolls)

If you love rice noodles, then you will love Pho Cuon where big rice noodles are rolled around beef and green herbs to create a delightful finger food. If the delicate flavors aren’t enough for you, then ramp it up by dipping the Pho Cuon into Nuoc Cham, a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili. Check out our Pho Cuon in Hanoi video to learn more about Pho Cuon.

13. Bun Thang (“Ladder” soft noodle soup)

Dishes made of soft noodle soup are diverse such as vermicelli and fried chopped meat, Bun Thang, vermicelli and sour crab soup, stewed vermicelli and boiled lean meat, etc.
The popular dish is vermicelli and sour crab soup whilst Bun Thang is for con-noisseurs, unique and available in Hanoi only. A bowl of Bun Thang includes lean pork paste, thin fried egg, salted shredded shrimp, chicken, onion, shrimps paste, and a little Belostomatid essence. 
Especially, Bun Thang bouillon made from shrimps and meat must be very sweet and pure. Without enjoying Bun Thang when arriving to Hanoi, it somewhat seems to lack of a part of taste of Hanoi.

14. Nem Cua be (Crab Spring Rolls)

Nem Cua Be, or crab spring rolls are the perfect complement to Bun cha. These are fried rolls filled with sea crab and vermicelli noodles. Fresh and lightly fried, these rolls melt in the mouth and are to be savored.
These crab spring rolls are sold by the roll, where one roll is cut into three smaller pieces. They are eaten as an appetizer while waiting for the bún cha meal or dipped into the savory Bun Cha soup. The same restaurants mentioned above serve equally tasty and crispy fresh crab spring rolls.

15. Banh goi (Pillow Cake)

This one is for the guilty pleasure: fried food. This fried cake has minced meat fillings with some eggs. You can also order fried pork, french-fries, fried flour. These dishes taste great with the local Bia hoi. Beside you can also get fresh spring rolls, along with traditional Vietnamese fried spring rolls. But since you can in a guilty pleasure mode, who cares if they are all deep in oil?

16. Banh tom Ho Tay (Fried shrimp fritter in West Lake)

Banh tom are large prawns (tom) cooked on a thick batter base. Before serving they’re re-fried and cut in half: pick them up with chopsticks, dip in the dipping sauce and enjoy. Banh tom stalls are found lining the street near Tay Ho temple.

17. Sinh to (Fruit Smoothie)

Take advantage of Vietnam’s fruit bounty to savor a smoothie made with sweetened condensed milk, crushed ice and your choice of, say, strawberry, mango or lychee. Just whatever you do, stay away from us if you opt for the rank, custardy durian.

18.Xoi (Sticky Rice)

Sticky rice is the fastest way to get yourself full and ready for the day. You can choose from white sticky rice or yellow sticky rice. It is eaten with shaved bean curd, fried shallots and any kind of toppings, from eggs to pate to caramelized pork 

19. Nuoc cham (Dipping Sauce)

Almost everything in Vietnam tastes better after being dunked into this salty-sweet-sour dipping sauce. It’s composed of fish sauce, citrus juice, sugar, water and, if you prefer, garlic and hot peppers.

20. Nuoc mia (Sugar Cane Juice)

Attention, sweet tooth; Get your fix with fresh-pressed sugarcane juice served over ice. It’s oddly invigorating. Or maybe that’s the sugar talking.

21. Che (Sweet Dessert Soup)

Che is a Vietnamese dessert that we had not tried prior to our Hanoi visit, and we were unclear what it was until we tasted the sweet dish in Hanoi. Che can be either hot or cold, and it can have a wide range of ingredients like mung beans, red beans, fruit and tapioca beads. We sampled a couple of varieties at decades old Che Ba Thin in the Old Quarter, but our favorite was this hot sugar cane brew with a porridge-like texture and a strong ginger taste. 

22. Kem Trang Tien (Trang Tien ice cream)

If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, you will never forget a flavour of ice cream type, especially it only have in Hanoi. It is Trang Tien ice cream. Trang Tien ice cream is very famous for its special flavour, which a countless number of Hanoi generations have a passion for. Visitors who have an opportunity to stay Hanoi and enjoy Trang Tien ice cream will not forget the unique feature of Hanoi’s culinary culture of standing and eating ice-cream. This ice cream has many different flavors like chocolate, vanilla, cereal, coconut milk. The flavor is tasty and cool.
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