Hanoi is known as one of the best foodie destinations in Asia, street foods found in this city are fresh, flavorful and very healthy. Each street food features a distinctive flavor reflecting one or more of the Vietnamese’s common ingredients, such as a mixed fish sauce, lime, and different kinds of fresh herbs.
With commentary textures, reliance on herbs, and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, here we would like to introduce top 5 Hanoi street foods and how to eat them.
1. Pho (beef noodle soup)
When talking about Vietnamese food, most travelers say they love Pho and they know at least one Vietnamese restaurant serving Pho at home. So, what is Pho? And why it’s so famous?
Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish, which is mostly eaten in the morning as breakfast. There are two kinds of Pho, either with beef or chicken. A bowl of beef noodle soup contains piping hot beef stock, thinly slices of beef, rice noodles and topped with fresh herbs. Pho is considered a national dish of Vietnam because of its popularity all over the country. Please learn more about Pho here.
2. Nom bo kho (beef jerky and green papaya salad)
We all know that Vietnamese food is known for its fresh and healthy ingredients, with very minimal use of oil. The smart use of fresh herbs, meat, fish sauce combined with a right balance of spices is just some of what makes Vietnamese food taste so good.
Nom bo kho is the best example of Vietnamese food that show the amazing balance, featuring a great combination of beef jerky, shred green papaya, roasted peanuts, green perilla leaves and dressed with diluted fish sauces. Like most Vietnamese food, the fish sauce really stands out. When eating the salad, we will feel that the green papaya is crunchy and thirst quenching, and it’s like shredded carrot, or daikon. The beef is over the top amazing, flavored with really good mixed fish sauce and peanuts.
3. Bun cha (grilled pork with noodle and fish source)
If Pho is the most popular Vietnamese breakfast found on Hanoi streets, Bun cha is the city’s most wanted lunch. Wherever there is smoke on the street, there is a bun cha. The locals marinate thinly slices of pork belly and meat balls from early in the morning, then start grilling them on the sidewalk when they are about to have first customers.
Bun cha comprises of bun (white rice noodles) and cha (grilled fatty pork belly and meatballs). The dish is served with dipping sauce, which is made of mixed fish sauce, pickled carrot and green papaya. It comes come with a side dish of herbs, and Nem Cua Be (crab spring rolls). An oversized plate is a medley of lettuce leaves, perilla leaves, coriander and mint. A small plate of chopped fresh garlic, fresh sliced chili, black pepper, and a small jar of rice vinegar are always found on the table, use them all for flavors.
4. Banh mi (Vietnamese baguette)
Banh mi is considered as king of all street foods by many Hanoi food tours, it’s a purely Vietnamese French fusion food. Banh mi is an airy French baguette with a thin crunchy crust that the Vietnamese stuffs in with cornucopia of roast chicken or pork, homemade pork-liver pâté, headcheese, cured ham, pickled daikon radish, carrot, a generous sprinkling of cilantro leaves, slices of cucumber and chili pepper, a few dashes of mixed fish sauce, and a light spread of mayonnaise.
A combination of those ingredients, the spicy, salty, sour, savory, aromatic, and sweet made a bite into a well stacked Vietnamese sandwich a moment of rapture. On streets, Banh mi would be referred to as e.g. Banh mi xiu mai for a baguette with crushed pork meatball, or Banh mi Pâté for a baguette or sandwich with pâté, Vietnamese sausage and meat, usually pork bellies, since it is the most common kind of meat. Check out our the best Banh mi in Hanoi.
5. Bun ngan (duck noodle soup)
If you are a fan of duck, you would love to have a bowl of Bun ngan in Hanoi. Bun ngan is a smart combination of boiled duck creole, bamboo shoots, rice noodles, spring onion and the broth from boiling the ducks. Another version of the duck soup is Mien Ngan, in which rice noodle is replaced with cellophane noodle.
Bun ngan is rarely found outside of Hanoi, but Bun ngan is so typical and popular in the capital that it’s consumed for all types of meals: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and also late night eats.
Join us on our Hanoi Street Food Tour to taste these top 5 Hanoi street foods, learn about the history of the city and explore the hidden parts of Hanoi.