Vietnam has recently emerged as one of the best destinations for culinary explorers, renowned for its rich and diverse cuisine. As people migrate, all tasty dishes gather at big metropolises of the country, such as Hanoi. If you stay in the city center, you’ll find yourself surrounded by mouth-watering treats offered at a reasonable price. So prepare to chow down some of the best food in town as we guide you to find the best food to try in the Hanoi Old Quarter.
Pho is a must-try whenever you’re in Hanoi
The first delicacy to kick off our list is the legendary Pho. It is probably the most internationally recognized dish in the country. If you’ve ever tried Pho abroad and loved it, then Hanoian Pho will knock your socks off.
Here, Pho noodles are made by hand, so each strand gives a unique texture and absorbs the soup much better. Vendors boil beef bones, beef tails, and spices for 12 hours to create the most aromatic broth that extracts all the essence of the beef. They do it with such refined expertise that you can taste Hanoi's history in every sip. There are many great Pho places in the Old Quarter, but some of the best are long-standing family-run Pho joints such as:
Pho Bat Dan - 49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District
Pho Thin - 13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung District
Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su - 10 Ly Quoc Su Street, Hoan Kiem District
Banh Cuon is one of Hanoi’s classic
Another must-try specialty in Hanoi is Banh Cuon - Vietnamese steamed rice cake. Each order is made fresh on a flat-top pan with a rice batter, minced pork and an egg if you opt for it. It is served with different Vietnamese cold cuts and a side of fish sauce.
What makes Hanoian Banh Cuon unique is that vendors don’t usually offer herbs like in the South, but customers can ask for a drop of fragrant waterbug extract. This was once a common ingredient for Banh Cuon's dipping sauce but was taken off for its scarcity.
Best Banh Cuon places in the Old Quarter:
Banh Cuon Gia Truyen Thanh Van - 12-14 Hang Ga Street, Hoan Kiem District
Banh Cuon Ba Hanh - 26B Tho Xuong Street, Hoan Kiem District
The hemibagrus fish is often used for Hanoian Fish Cake - picture of Cha Ca Ha Thanh
If you’ve never tried Cha Ca (Hanoi Fish Cake), then you’re in for a wonderful treat. This dish is so famous to the locals that they named a street after it (Cha Ca Street). It is a combination of fresh fish cubes marinated in galangal roots and other spices, served on a pan with dill, green onions and fermented shrimp paste. Hanoian Fish Cake is can be paired with noodles or enjoyed alone.
Some of the recommended restaurants are:
Cha Ca Ha Thanh - 20 Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District (this is outside of the Old Quarter but worth the visit)
Ong Gia Cha Ca - 9th floor, 18 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District
A typical serving of Bun Cha looks like this
Another specialty of the culinary hub of Hanoi is Bun Cha, now being served at numerous restaurants all around the globe. Hanoian Bun Cha is characterized by the smoky aroma of grilled pork over wood charcoal. It’s less sweet than the Southern version and goes with pickled papaya or carrot. There are multiple Bun Cha vendors in the Old Quarter, but here are the best ones:
Bun Cha Hang Quat - 74 Hang Quat Street, Hoan Kiem District
Bun Cha Huong Lien - 24 Le Van Huu Street, Hai Ba Trung District (where President Obama dined)
Streetside BBQ is the new generation’s comfort food
There’s no better way to warm yourself up in the winter of Hanoi than grilling meat at a streetside joint. Introduced just over a decade ago, these streetside BBQ stalls quickly gained popularity among the city’s younger generation and became iconic to the culinary scene here. Different cuts of pork and beef, intestines are all cooked on an open flame when you take a sip of Bia Hoi or chat with your friends. And soon, you will forget the freezing breeze to enjoy a filling meal that hardly makes a dent in your wallet.
Places for Vietnamese BBQ:
Pha Lau - 79 Hang Luoc Street, Hoan Kiem District
Nuong Xuan Xuan - 47 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District
Do Nuong Gam Cau - 6 Gam Cau Street, Hoan Kiem District
Look for top-rated hotels in the Hanoi Old Quarter below:
We hope that we’ve thoroughly guided you through some of the best food to try in the Hanoi Old Quarter. If you’re interested in learning more about the local culinary scene, see our Hanoi travel guides for a more in-depth look into everything Hanoi!
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© Written by Dung Tran for itourvn.com