Your taste buds will thank you for stopping in Hanoi once they encounter the whirlwind of flavors used in this city's diverse and unique cuisine. With dishes ranging from exotic to humble and simple, no matter how long you have in Hanoi you are sure to experience something new.
From the first moment you sit down at one of Hanoi's many superb restaurants, cafes or street food vendors you will begin experiencing one very important part of Vietnamese culture - food and drink - in an intimate way. Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by both, international and regional flavors, and has changed the global palate.
- Eat fresh tropical fruit, purchased from a local market
- Take a walking food tour in the Old Quarter
- Try Vietnam's famous Pho dish 'Hanoi' style, with basil and coriander
- Wake yourself up with a rich cup of egg coffee
- Tour a night market before finding dinner in a local handpicked restaurant
Vietnamese cuisine features a swath of gastro-delights such as the noodle based dishes Pho and Cao Lau, and Vietnamese style sandwiches - all accentuated by bold herbs and spices. Mint, basil, coriander and lime are common additions to many meals in Hanoi, giving the food a balance of familiar and potentially unfamiliar flavors.
Vietnamese food is truly unique but Hanoi's proximity to China and long history of international involvement has created a global food culture in the city. A traveler can not only expect to find unique local delicacies but can also explore the spirited and modern fusion food culture here.
Pho Noodle Soup: Hanoi Style
If no trip to Vietnam is complete without a bowl of Pho noodle soup, then no trip to Hanoi is complete without trying a bowl of Hanoi style noodle soup. Hanoi style differs from Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) style by focusing on fresh basil and coriander to accentuate the broth's natural flavor.
Vietnamese Sandwich (Banh Mi)
The French colonial era in Vietnam left behind more than just architecture. French style bread was quickly adopted into the Vietnamese diet and given a local twist of its own. Vietnamese Sandwiches are large crispy loafs, filled with grated vegetables and your preferred meat.
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Bun Num)
After sinking your teeth through the crunchy outer coating and into the steamy, fragrant center of a Bun Num you may never want to leave Hanoi. These treats make a great snack or appetizer and can be found in almost every restaurant and on every street corner around the city. Look at our recommended restaurants below for an idea of where to find one.
Crab Noodle Soup (Bun Rieu)
Do not be fooled by the name, there is not actual crab in this dish but instead lots of tomatoes and a few crab eggs that give it a delightful tangy seafood flavor. This mild soup dish can be great at helping your stomach adjust to the local food and is commonly enjoyed in all parts of Vietnam despite being known as a northern style dish.
Vietnamese Fried Noodles (Pho Xao)
Wok fried rice noodles served with greens and beef (and spicy peppers for the bold) - what is not to be loved about Pho Xao? Although somewhat similar to Chinese style fried noodles, anyone who tries both can tell you that Pho Xao stands alone and has a signature taste that you can only experience in Vietnam itself. Widely available at most pho restaurants and food vendors; just follow the sound of the roaring woks.
After all of that delicious food you will probably need something to quench your thirst. Below are a few must-try drinks in Hanoi.
Vietnamese coffee is almost as famous as (or perhaps even more so than) all of the food mentioned above. This global notoriety and local love of the beverage has made it so popular that cafes seem almost more prevalent than restaurants in some parts of Hanoi.
Especially during the rainy season, many Vietnamese people will settle into a local caf' for a cup of coffee to wait out a storm. Vietnamese caf's range from the super modern to the quaint and quiet, so you can find any type you are looking for.
In addition to Vietnamese coffee, many of these shops offer international flavors and brands as well.
For a unique coffee experience try Align Graphic Coffee Caf' located at: 10A Khuc Hao St., Ba Dinh, Hanoi; +84 (0)166 375 6666
For a real treat, order your Vietnamese coffee with egg cream whipped into it. This creamy and frothy concoction drinks like a thick latte and will leave you awake and comfortably satisfied.
Try a world famous cup of egg coffee at Giang Caf' located at: No. 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
Fruit Juice and Smoothies
At many markets and restaurants you can find freshly-squeezed tropical fruit juices. There are your classics such as orange and mango, and at some places more interesting mixes that feature kumquat, pomelo or passion fruit.
A fresh fruit juice can be refreshing but if you prefer something that can hold you over until lunch then you might want to opt for a fresh fruit smoothie instead.
Try one at La Place located at: 6 Au Trieu, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi
Where to Eat and Drink: Hand-Picked Restaurants
Viet Deli Restaurant
For a quiet meal in a tastefully decorated restaurant with attentive staff, make sure to stop by Viet Deli. The Beef and Bamboo shoots are especially good, and the menu is stacked with additionally delightful dishes.
Viet Deli is vegetarian friendly, and the staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable, making it a great first stop on your trip
58 Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
For a truly unexpected meal in Hanoi make a stop at Madame Hein's to try their tasting-menu that comes with an appetizer, main dish, and desert. At Madame Hein's, each dish is delivered with an explanation about its origin, cooking method and ingredients.
The staff is English speaking and clearly passionate about spreading knowledge about their country's food culture. Madame Hein's is the perfect stop for the curious foodie as well as the picky eater, as you always know EXACTLY what you are ordering.
15 Chan Cam Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Pots 'n Pans
Pots 'n Pans has become an icon of Vietnams fine dining scene. The menu features Vietnamese and French fusion dishes that can cater for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. In addition to an extensive menu of dishes, Pots 'n Pans has an impressive wine list and puts out a number of scrumptious deserts.
Having friendly staff and being a good vantage point for people-watching, contribute to making it one of the top restaurants near the Old Quarter.
57 Bui Thi Xuan Street | Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam
If you prefer to dine somewhere that you know your patronage will have an impact, then Koto Training Restaurant is an excellent stop. The trainee servers are eager to please and impress, making the help unprecedented and the display and presentation of the dishes simply artful.
Since it is a training school for predominantly disadvantaged children, you know your money is going to a good place, while still allowing you to explore Vietnamese cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere. Do not worry, fully trained teachers are on hand to ensure that the food is equally good as the service.
59 Van Mieu, Dong Da District, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
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