A Complete Guide to Hanoi Street Food
Hanoi is the northern food gem of Vietnam and truly a street food lover’s paradise. You can easily find various dishes at literally every corner of this bustling city. Each dish has its own unique flavor that will definitely make you crave for as soon as you leave. In this article, you will be taken on a flavorful street food day tour exploring the exciting street food culture of Vietnam. So let’s get started!
Vietnamese are early risers so breakfast is the essential meal of the day. Why not improve your day by having the best breakfast ever?
Vietnamese Banh Mi
This is perhaps the most popular breakfast in Vietnam. Originated during the French colonial period from 1887 to 1954, Banh Mi wins the title of the best street food with its outstanding flavor from different ingredients like paté, grilled meat, fragrant herbs, pickled vegetables and finally, topped with a bit of chili; all packed inside a crunchy baguette.
You can literally taste everything in just one bite. Another reason why it’s common is that it is very convenient and easily found at every corner, suitable for anyone who wants to grab a quick bite to start the day.
- Banh Mi 25 - 25 Hang Ca St.
- Banh Mi Pho Hue - 118 Hue St.
- Banh Mi Pho - 8 Quan Su St.
Another typical breakfast in Vietnam is “Xoi” - steamed glutinous rice. Xoi also varies from simple and low-price such as Xoi Do (sticky rice with green bean), Xoi Lac (sticky rice with peanuts) to higher prices with more topping options like braised pork belly, sausages, dried shredded pork, etc. and again, some pickled vegetables. A bowl of sticky rice in the morning will assure you a full of energy for the whole day. And the price range is very affordable, only for 8.000 - 50.000 for a portion.
- Xoi Yen - 35B Nguyen Huu Huan St.
- Xoi Ran - 2 Hang Dieu St.
- Quan Xoi Xa Xiu - 118 Yen Phu St.
Hanoi is a city of history and culture and coffee drinking is certainly a part of both. Coffee production in Vietnam has become a prominent industry since the 20th century. The way Vietnamese people drink coffee is different from other parts of the world. Coffee is roasted and ground manually and slowly over time, then loaded into a filter and left drip for about 15 minutes for such intense taste. That’s also the origin of the Vietnamese signature “Ca phe phin”.
Giang Cafe is one of the original egg coffee shop in Hanoi
Coffee in Vietnam is beyond a drink, it’s a lifestyle. Sitting on the sidewalk, sipping on a cup of coffee and chatting with friends in the tranquil atmosphere of early morning in Hanoi is an absolute delight. Egg coffee is a MUST-TRY specialty of Hanoi. The thick texture and rich flavor of the egg layer combining with strong Vietnamese coffee make you feel like you are drinking a high-class tiramisu.
- Cafe Giang - 39 Nguyen Huu Huan St.
- Nhac Cafe - 7 Hang Thung St.
- Dinh Cafe - 2nd floor, 13 Dinh Tien Hoang St.
Bun Cha is an iconic dish representing the essence of Hanoi street food culture. Walking around the city between 11 am - 2 pm, the image of a woman rapidly fanning the sizzling pork with thick smoke curling up on the sidewalk with flocks of customers coming in and out is very common.
Bun Cha is usually eaten at lunchtime
To be honest, you haven’t really been to Hanoi if you haven’t tried Bun Cha. The dish includes rice noodles, charcoal-grilled pork belly or patties (sometimes wrapped in xương sông herb), all dipped into sweet and sour fish sauce creating such a fragrant and bursting flavor. No wonder the former president of United States, Barack Obama, praised Bun Cha so much during his visit to Vietnam.
- Bun Cha Dac Kim - 1 Hang Manh St.
- Bun Cha Hang Quat - 74 Hang Quat St.
- Bun Cha Huong Lien - 24 Le Van Huu
Nem chua ran
Gathering with your friends, get a dish of nem chua ran, sided with some potato chips then you have yourself a good snack time. It is actually deep-fried fermented pork sausages, crispy outside and soft inside. Some cucumber or green mango will help a lot to balance the fat of the dish.
Nem chua ran is a favorite afternoon snack among teenagers
- Nem chua ran Ba Gia - 39 Hang Bong St.
- Nem chua San Hang Day - Hang Day Stadium (Nguyen Thai Hoc St. side)
- Nem khoai Ta Hien -29 Ta Hien St.
Traditional Che (Sweet Soup)
Who can resist a heavenly sweetness while wandering around the Old Quarter in a heated afternoon? Che, as known as sweet soup, is one of Vietnamese dessert and it has many flavors. Each che is made from different ingredients like mung bean, black-eyed peas, tapioca, glass jelly, pomelo, etc. You can choose to mix your own che as your liking, add a bit of coconut milk and shredded ice and you get a delicious and refreshing cup of che.
- Che Bon Mua - 4 Hang Can St.
- Xoi Che Ba Thin - 95 Hang Bo St.
- Che 16 - 16 Ngo Thi Nham St.
Pho Cuon - Pho Chien Phong
Pho Cuon is basically a big square pho rolled around stir-fried beef and green herbs like cilantro and basil, dipping into sweet and sour fish sauce. Everything goes together so well and leaves a strong aftertaste of fresh herbs.
Pho Chien Phong
Pho Chien Phong is the same pho sheet but stacked over, cut into smaller squares and deep-fried, served over gravy, beef, and mustard greens.
- Pho Cuon Huong Mai - 25 Ngu Xa St.
There are various versions of Banh Xeo
The so-called “sizzling crepe” is just as flavorful and surprisingly delicious as other street food you have tried by far. The batter is poured over a thin layer on a hot pan making a sizzling sound, filled with shrimp, bean sprouts and sliced pork. Wrapped in a rice paper with fresh herbs forming a balance of texture as well as hot and cold ingredients. This dish is so mouth-watering that you can devour 3 of these at once.
- Banh Xeo Ngoc Duong - 125 Doi Can St.
- Banh Xeo Sau Phuoc - 74 Cau Dat St.
You know we have to save the best for last. Pho is best eaten at night, where all stores and shops are closed, the streets become empty and quieter, you can fully enjoy a hot bowl of pho in the tranquility of a sleeping Hanoi. This will be your lifetime experience you’ve ever had in Vietnam!
Pho Thin - 13 Lo Duc
- Pho Ga Nguyet - 5 Phu Doan St.
- Pho Ganh - 4 Hang Ma St. ( opens from 3 AM)
- Pho Bat Dan - 49 Bat Dan St.
Given such an affordable price point, Vietnamese street food really surprises international visitors with diverse culinary cuisine. For them, the experience of enjoying specialties on plastic chairs along pavements is sometimes mentioned more than the food itself. Through Vietnamese cuisine, especially street food, a part of culture is beautifully preserved and promoted in the process of integration nowadays.