My list of “Must Try Food” in Hanoi kept growing, the whole time we were there - it seemed every time I crossed a dish off, someone would tell me about something new! Here's my non-exhaustive list of the best food in Hanoi - have I missed any of your favourites?
Originating on the streets of Hanoi, caramelised grilled pork meatballs is served over a plate of rice noodles, herbs and leaves, and a bowl of broth. Mix together as you see fit with chilli and garlic and wash down with a cold Bia Hanoi, as you crouch on the tiny plastic street-food stools.
Where to get it: Bun Cha Nem Cue Be. There are so many great Bun Cha places scatted all over town, but out of the many we tried, this was the best!
Of course, you can’t go to Vietnam and not try a Pho for breakfast!
Where to get it: Phở Gia Truyền Bát Đàn - it can get pretty crowded by the turnover is fast. You may have to share a table but it’ll probably be with a local, proving just how food it is!
Cà Phê Sữa Dá
Vietnamese iced coffee is famous around the world. At its simplest, cà phê đá is made using medium to coarse ground dark roast Vietnamese-grown coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and a generous scoop of ice. Beware - they are highly addictive.
Where to get it: There are coffee shops and street stalls on every corner, serving coffee all hours of the day and night, and because it’s so simple, it’s almost impossible to get a bad ice coffee!
If you’re looking for some respite to escape the heat and intensity of the city, Tranquil Books and Coffee is exactly that - walls of books, chill out areas, low lighting, plants and soft piano jazz music - this is a perfect oasis and they do a great ice coffee. Or, you’re wanting something a little less intense, they also do a blend of coffee, condensed milk and normal milk to smooth it out.
Coconut & Coffee Frappe
While we’re on the coffee train, a coconut frappe with a swirl of coffee is the perfect snack halfway through the day - light, refreshing and best of all...icy cold!
Where to get it: Cộng Cà Phên is a small chain of cafes throughout Vietnam, and you’ll be sighing in relief everytime you turn a corner and see one. They have an amazing range of drinks but their Coconut Frappe takes the cake.
Cà Phê Trứng - Egg Coffee
Likened to a liquid tiremisu, egg coffee is suprisingly delicious. Inspired by cappuccinos, a true egg coffee is a concoction of espresso, condensed milk, a little sugar, butter and egg yolk.
Where to get it: Giảng is one of the most popular cafés in Hanoi and the true creator of the egg coffee, and has been serving the drink since the cafe opened in 1946.
Bánh Mi, meaning bread or Vietnamese baguette, and was cultivated from Vietnam’s history under French reign. Stuffed with various marinated meats, cucumbers, carrots and herbs, these little sandwiches make a perfect lunch.
Where to get it: Bánh Mi 25 is a bit of a tourist hot spot but understandably so - it’s probably one of the best Bánh Mi in town, well-priced, plenty of options, fresh bread, great vibes.
Bánh Xèo Pancakes
Also known as Vietnamese Happy Pancakes, Bánh xèo are made from a crepe-like batter with bean sprout, onion, shallot, and meat/seafood fillings. Typically, they are served with rice paper, fresh leaves and herbs which you roll together and dip into the accompanying sauce.
Where to get it: Head to Street Food Cafe and grab a table of their veranda - watch the world zoom by and enjoy their delicious crispy rolls!
Sweet, creamy, delicious… I had my doubts but I’m now a firm believer in Avocado smoothies!
Where to get it: Bahn Mi 25 serves up a delicious avo smoothie - pair it with one of their Bahn Mi’s to cross two off your list!
Bún Riêu Crab Soup
Bún riêu is another very popular Vietnamese rice noodle soup loaded with prawns, crab, tofu, herbs, vegetables and made on a tomato base. This dish is perfect for dinner, and the soup gets pretty hot - not ideal when you’re battling the city heat!
Where to get it: Experience the local way and pull up a tiny plastic stool at the blink-and-you’ll-miss is shop at 11 Hàng Bac, Hoàn Kiêm.
Chả Cá Lã Long - Fried fish & dill
Chả Cá Lã Long is a Hanoi specialty - local fish marinated in tumeric, cooked in front of you at your table and served peanuts, shallots and loads of dill. It’s always a real experience to having your food prepped and served right in front of you! This dish is also known as Chả Cá Hà Nội or Cha Ca La Vong.
Where to get it: Cha Ca Thang Long. Yep this restaurant is called the name of the dish because that’s all they serve. No menu, no choice, you come here for one thing and one thing only!
Every night, vendors brew a fresh keg of beer ready for the following afternoon, where at around 5pm, a string of plastic stools appear on the streets and footpaths accompanied by a small sign; Bia Hoi, 5000. Yep, that’s around 40 cents.
Where to get it: Bia Hoi is everywhere, but the the main bustling beer hub is located at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Hanoi Old Town.