Street food in Hanoi is known to be a real heart-stopper. The city’s cuisine is powered by the idea that anything can be made better with spices, and it’s cooking menthods are perfected by families who has been serving the only one-dish for decades. If it’s good fresh, just imagine how cool it will be when you try it on the sidewalk!
Of course, there are many delicious street foods in Hanoi (such as these 25 street foods) to try when you are visiting our city. But if you wish someone living in the city to pick out the most popular street foods, this blog post is curated for you. Here are our 5 most popular street foods in Hanoi, and where to try them.
1. Phở (beef or chicken noodle soup)
Pho, “Phở” in Vietnamese, is a Vietnamese noodle dish consisting of fresh rice noodles, stock, meat and fresh herbs such as scallion, cilantro, and onion. Pho is served in a thick ceramic bowl when the broth is still boiling hot, and is sided with some fresh basils, bean sprouts, and a lime wedge.
There are two kinds of Pho; Pho bo (beef noodle soup) and Pho ga (chicken noodle soup). So, if you are trying a noodle soup without beef or chicken, your noodle soup could be any kind of Vietnamese noodle soup but Pho (except the vegetarian version of Pho). It’s said that Pho is Vietnam’s national dish, and a must-try for any Hanoi visitors.
Where to try:
- Pho Gia Truyen: 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Pho Thin: 13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
2. Bún chả (grilled pork noodle soup)
While Pho is the most popular dish in the morning, bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in Hanoi. And it’s been over 6 years since their visit to a local eatery, but the photograph of the former US President Barack Obama and the CNN’s celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain sitting at a bun cha table is still being mentioned when discoursing about the dish.
To those who haven’t heard of bun cha, it’s a Vietnamese dish that includes a bowl of cooked fish sauce containing charcoal-grilled pork slices and pork patties, a plate of thin noodles, and a portion of fresh fragrant herbs. Diners are supposed to mix the herb into the sauce, then briefly dip the noodle into the bowl for extra flavor on each bite.
Where to try:
- Bun Cha Chien Loan: 25 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Cha Tuyet: 34 Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
3. Chả cá Lã Vọng (La Vong’s turmeric marinated frying fish)
Cha Ca La Vong, or Cha Ca Hanoi, is the term widely used in Vietnam to refer to a dish consisting of boneless grilled hemibagrus (a type of river catfish), which is then fried table-side in front of diners with lots of fresh dill and spring onion, for eating with rice noodle, cilantro, roasted peanuts, and shrimp paste.
The origin of the dish traces back to the early days of Vietnamese fighting against the colonial French, when Doan family, at 14 Hang Son Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, cooked their fresh catch fishes for patriots who were using their home as a secret meeting place.
Overtime, diners called the dish “Cha Ca La Vong” (the “La Vong” is the name of a statue at the family’s door step), and the family turned itself to a restaurant serving that only dish. Eventually, the Hang Son (Paint Street) was officially renamed to Cha Ca Street in honor of the famous dish.
Where to try:
- Cha Ca La Vong: 14 Cha Ca Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Cha Ca Thang Long: 6B Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
4. Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich with pate)
The smart uses of these ingredients make a bite into the well-stacked Vietnamese sandwich really a moment of rapture, making eaters happy with all of their five senses; sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
The history of Banh mi in Vietnam dates back to the late 1800s, when the colonial French surprised the Vietnamese with the Roman script, the coffee, and their baguette – the long thin loaf of bread that was popular in France. In the early days, Vietnamese called it Banh Tay (literally means Western-style cake), which is now called Banh mi – meaning wheat cake.
Though Banh mi outlets are popular on the streets of Hanoi in the recent years, it used to be seen as a food staple of working poor – who takes it as a delicious sustenance for breakfast and midday meal. Therefore, Banh mi was a street food that people barely think of long before street eats Hanoi became an obsession with foodies.
Where to try:
- Banh mi 25: 25 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Banh mi Thanh Thuy: 15 Hang Cot, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
5. Bún riêu cua (Freshwater crab noodle soup)
Bun rieu cua is an red hue vermicelli noodle soup, topped with either beef, pork, snails, or all of them together depending on each place. The dish gets its appearance from the tomato paste and the annatto powder (achiote tree). However, the real star of the soup is the fresh water crabmeat.
The more crabmeat, the higher quality the soup is. Tamarind paste is used to create the sourness to the broth, airy bits of fried tofu to bring the crunch, and thinly sliced herbs to add fresh flavors.
Before mixing the vermicelli noodle up, add to that the requisite spoonful of vinegar, lime wedges, chili paste and the sliced greens such as lettuce, banana flowers and cilantros – and you find the true happiness.
Where to try:
- Bun Rieu Cua: 11 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Bun Rieu Co Hoan: 14 Hang Luoc, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Contact us for a private Hanoi street food tour with a local foodie, and explore the city in a way that will set the tone for your trip in Hanoi.