Hanoi - the more-than-1000-year-old capital of Vietnam - is a perfect destination for those who love to know more about Vietnamese culture. And, we all know that cuisine is a crucial part of a culture, so there is no doubt that you should spend time exploring specialties in Hanoi. In case you do not where to start from, we have prepared some recommendations.
Want to try some local exotic dishes? Then don’t miss out Bun Dau Mam Tom! Everything about this dish is one-of-a-kind, from taste to smell. Once you fall in love with it, you would never get enough.
A basic serving of Bun Dau Mam Tom seems very modest: just some square-cut pieces of rice vermicelli, crispy fried tofu, local herbs, and a small bowl of Mam Tom - one of the popular Smelly Foods in Vietnam. Some other favorite side-dishes are Cha Com - Green Flakes Fried Patty or Fried Pig Intestines. Now, we have to warn you that Mam Tom is not for everyone. In case you cannot put up with it, ask the restaurant for Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce instead, the rest of Bun Dau (without) Mam Tom is still worth a try.
A basic serving of Bun Dau Mam Tom
Thanks to the visit of Chef Anthony Bourdain and former US President Barack Obama, Bun Cha has become the ultimate must-try specialties in Hanoi. You'd be surprised how well vermicelli, grilled pork and fish sauce can go together. The dish holds the heart of every Hanoian and even international visitors.
Bun Cha is a national sweetheart
Address: 24 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Opening hour: 10 AM - 7 PM
Price range: VND 40,000 - 60,000
The "Obama" combo at Bun Cha Huong Lien
Address: 74 Alley, Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hour: 10 AM - 2 PM
Price range: VND 25,000 - 40,000
Address: 34 Hang Than, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hour:7 AM - 5 PM
Price range: VND 35,000 - 55,000
Without diacritics, Com (Cốm) seems to be exactly like the Vietnamese word for Rice (which is “Cơm”), and as a matter of fact, their origins are quite close. Com is made from immature glutinous rice which is roasted in low heat and carefully pounded. It is a favorite snack and an indispensable part of their childhood of many Hanoians.
To try the freshest and most wonderful Com, you should come to Hanoi around August-October. Beyond this Com season, you might still find some food that has Com as one of the main ingredients, but it would not be an easy mission and the locals also do not highly rate the freshness of Com in these periods. Since Com is made without adding any preservatives, it is recommended to be consumed as soon as possible. Fresh Com can go well with bananas and tea as an afternoon snack, or be fried with coconut milk. It also appears in numerous specialties in Hanoi such as Banh Com, Bun Dau Mam Tom, Sticky Rice with Com, Com Ice Cream, and more.
Read more to see When is The Best Time to Visit Hanoi
Sticky Rice with Com
There are some stores famous for Com around Xuan Thuy Street, Cau Giay District and Me Tri Quarter, Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi.
Before coming to Vietnam, you might have heard about Pho. As a proud representative of the national cuisine, Pho can easily be found in any corner of the country. However, each region would have different ways to make its Pho special. And should you try the Hanoian version? Totally yes!
Northern Pho, or Hanoian Pho, has some significantly different characteristics when comparing to Southern Pho. The noodles are bigger, while the soup is notably clearer. A common side dish of Northern Pho is Youtiao - unsweetened cruller doughnut.
Pho Hanoi and the side dishes
Here we have some suggested places for you to have a hot, delicious bowl of Pho. You do not need to go to fancy restaurants, small food stores sometimes offer surprisingly good food.
Address: 3 Tran Phu, Hang Bong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6 AM - 4 AM
Price: From VND 30,000
Address: 49 Bat Dan, Cua Dong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6 AM - 10 AM, 6 PM - 8:30 PM
Price: From VND 40,000
See our reviews for Best Places to Try Pho in Hanoi
If you are fond of fish dishes, you should not miss out on this distinct one. Cha Ca La Vong is grilled hemibagrus fish seasoned with dill, turmeric, and Mam Tom. It can be enjoyed by itself or served with roasted peanuts and rice vermicelli. Unlike Bun Dau Mam Tom, you can barely smell or taste Mam Tom in Cha Ca La Vong, it is added just to make the plain hemibagrus more flavorful. Therefore, even if you can stand the Vietnamese shrimp paste, it will not affect your experience with this dish.
An eye-catching serving of Cha Ca La Vong with yellow grilled fish and green dill
Some famous restaurants for Cha Ca La Vong:
Address: 19-21-31 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM - 9 PM
Price: VND 120,000
Address: 171 Thai Ha, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 10 AM -9:30 PM
Price: VND 129,000
Chao Suon - Porridge with Pork Rib - is far from a luxurious dish, but it totally deserves a position in the list of specialties in Hanoi. It is a food that can be enjoyed by any age, but almost cannot be found anywhere outside Hanoi.
A bowl of Chao Suon cannot be more modest, but the taste is unforgettable
The texture of Chao Suon is one of the things that make it unique. It is so soft and smooth that it can be swallow without chewing. The toppings are also attractive. Most of the time you would find some big yet tender pork ribs, crispy Youtiao, and flavorful meat floss. Feel free to try this dish at any time of the day since it can be considered as a breakfast and afternoon snack.
Look for these small Chao Suon stalls to grab a tasty bowl:
Address:43 Ngo Huyen, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 11 AM - 6:30 PM
Price: From VND 25,000
Address: 32 Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6:30 AM - 10 AM (can be closed earlier if the porridge runs out)
Price: VND 10,000 - 15,000
Egg and coffee seem to be a weird combination for a drink, but Ca Phe Trung - Vietnamese Egg Coffee - has become one of the typical specialties in Hanoi. In a small cup of Ca Phe Trung, you will be able to taste the strong, iconic savor of Vietnamese black coffee, the rich flavor of egg yolk, the sweet of condensed milk, and the pleasant aroma of vanilla. And how can you drink it like a real Hanoian? You could either drink it as you do with a Cappuccino or stir it well first. During the winter of Hanoi, this is a must-try drink.
Ca Phe Trung is best when served hot
Nowadays, Ca Phe Trung can easily be found in any Hanoian streets, but here are the ones that have gained adoration from the local by its high quality:
- 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- 106 Yen Phu, Nguyen Trung Truc Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 7 AM - 10:30 PM
Price: VND 30,000
Note: Mr.Giang opened this cafe - the one has brought Ca Phe Trung into life and made it one of the signature thing of Hanoi
Address: 2nd floor, 13 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 5 AM - 11 PM
Price: VND 20,000
Note: Opened by a daughter of Mr. Giang
From snacks to main courses, Hanoi has thousands of options for you to choose. You can start your day with a hot cup of Ca Phe Trung and a light breakfast with Chao Suon Sun. Then, at lunch, look for Bun Dau Mam Tom, and for dinner, take a look at Pho or Cha Ca La Vong. Don’t forget to have your snack with dishes made from Com.
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© Written by Mai Bui for itourvn.com