Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi is beautiful and bustling. With stunning architecture, lively character, and one of the richest food scenes in Asia, it is the perfect place for a food-lover’s city break. From street food to fine dining, no dish is short on flavour, and always served at a reasonable price. The sweet, sour, and spicy flavours of Vietnamese cooking are elevated with a touch of French influence for an explosion of tastes on every corner of the city. Here are some unmissable foodie experiences in Hanoi:
Eat Bahn Mi for breakfast
The baguette is filled with a combination of vegetables, meat or tofu, and herbs and spices, and finished with a sweet, sour dressing.
Visitors can find Banh Mi across the city in street stalls, to restaurants, to brick-and-mortar convenience stores.
Banh Mi 25 is one of the best places to taste this delicious snack. The restaurant is located along Hang Ca Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and has both a sit-down restaurant and takeaway stall and is very popular among locals and tourists.
Another excellent Banh Mi restaurant is Bami Bread located in Hang Bac Hoan Kiem. This restaurant is more of a local spot with fewer crowds, serving delicious Banh Mi. Order the ‘Hoi An Special’ with barbequed pork and enjoy the mouth-watering combination of succulent and smoky meat, soft pate, fresh herbs and vegetables, and crusty bread.
Take a street food tour
Stroll through the 36 Old Streets of Hanoi in search of authentic flavours as your guide takes you off the beaten path to some of the city’s best street food stalls and eateries.
Learn about the history and culture of Vietnamese cuisine throughout the tour as you get to know your friendly local guide.
Dishes include Banh Bot Loc (a Moorish dish of pork, shrimp, and herbs, wrapped in arrowroot); Nem (fried and fresh spring rolls); spicy papaya salad; pho; and Banh Cuon (paper-thin rice paper rolls stuffed with pork).
Tours last around 3 hours and prices start from about £20.
Don’t pho-rget about Pho
Bo (beef) and Ga (chicken) are the most popular Pho dishes in Vietnam, but beef is definitely the tastiest.
The dish is made using high-quality broth with rice noodles, spring onions, herbs, spices, and juicy cuts of meat.
You can find Pho across the city, with locals sat on low down plastic tables on the street to more conventional restaurants across the city. One of the best local places is Phở Bát Đàn a hole in the wall eatery serving only three types of Pho, which is always a good sign. Less variety of dishes means a higher quality of broth.
Remember to pronounce it like a pro: Pho is not ‘foh’ it’s ‘fuh’.
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Stop for some Egg Coffee
It may come as a surprise that Vietnam is one of the world’s largest coffee producers after Brazil.
During the war, when fresh milk was harder to come by, a Hanoi bartender came up with the idea of whisking egg white to mix with their much-loved coffee instead and created a delicious drink in the process.
Egg Coffee is becoming increasingly popular across the world, but it originated in Hanoi, making this city the best place to try it. Strong brewed coffee is whipped with condensed milk and egg white to make a frothy and creamy treat. The rich and sweet flavour is similar to tiramisu.
There are hundreds of places to try Egg Coffee across the city, and almost every café will have it on the menu. Café Giang was founded by the creator of Egg Coffee and still runs as a popular café among locals and tourists. Meanwhile, Cafe Dinh run by his daughter is a more unassuming haunt serving up the same delicious recipe. You can order your Egg Coffee hot or iced depending on your preference.
Hit the restaurants
Whilst the Old Quarter is where you will find the best street food, the French Quarter on the other side of Hoan Kiem Lake has some of the city’s best restaurants.
Indulge in an 18-course fine dining menu at TUNG Dining where chef Hoang Tung uses seasonal ingredients to create innovative and experimental dishes in this slick and stylish restaurant.
Book a table at Indochine for high-end Vietnamese cuisine and a lively atmosphere. For hearty international dishes, book lunch at Al Frescos in the French Quarter and enjoy succulent steaks, salads, and pizzas. Chim Sao Hanoi serves unique Vietnamese dishes in a cool and quirky setting, whilst Quan An Ngon is one of the city’s most popular restaurants serving elevated street food at affordable prices in an elegant garden setting.
Hanoi is a wonderful city filled with so much to explore, and visitors can rest assured that they will be well-fuelled throughout their trip. With so many treats to try at such good value prices, foodies are spoilt for choice in Hanoi.