There is not one single food capital in Vietnam, but Hanoi certainly has a lot of incredible food to offer.
- Phở (pronounced ‘pherr’)
You can’t walk down a street in Hanoi without finding a pho joint. Whether you prefer the classic bo (beef), or the slightly lighter ga (chicken) this iconic dish is a must. If there really is a chicken soup for the soul, then this is surely it. It’s available any time of day and is a popular choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s best with the local black pepper, lime, chili and garlic sauce that sits on nearly every table.
Best from: Pho Thin, 13 Lo Duc
- Bánh xèo
If you like to get your hands dirty then banh xeo is for you. It literally translates as ‘sizzling cake’. A light crispy pancake infused with turmeric is cooked with prawns, fatty pork, green onions and bean sprouts. It is then served with vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs all of which you roll up and dip in a crisp, sweet chilli sauce. Enjoy this one, it’s a real treat.
Best from: 172 Doi Can Street, Ba Dinh
The combination of spicy dried beef, peanuts, beansprouts, chopped cucumber, mint and noodles makes this often overlooked dish a favourite amongst those in the know. Like many Vietnamese dishes it is often served unmixed and unseasoned with a range of spices on the table for you to add yourself.
Best from: 37 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District
- Chả Cá
For the fish lovers amongst you Cha Ca is a great snack or meal. Whilst you can find deep-fried cha ca at any bia hoi joint, for a truly special experience go to number 14 Cha Ca street, an ancient and traditional restaurant that will lightly fry succulent bitesize fillets of fish on your table in a delicious dill butter.
Best from: 14 Cha Ca Street (that’s right, it’s so good they named a street after it), Hoan Kiem District
This unique dish feels more European than Vietnamese and the French influence is unmistakable. A homely, red wine infused beef stew served with hot crunchy baguettes. Whereas the traditional French bourguignon use herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme, the Vietnamese version uses spices like star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Excellent for the winter months.
Best From: 252 Hang Bong Street, Hoan Kiem District
- Bún chả
This Hanoian dish is every foreigner’s favourite. Pork pieces and pork patties are flame griddled over hot coals in a special street oven before being served in a garlic, chili and pepper broth. Add fresh herbs and more seasoning until your heart’s content. Then dip cold noodles into the broth to absorb the heat and flavours of this Hanoian favourite.
- Flame Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken might not seem like a Vietnamese speciality, but this one is truly unmissable for the carnivores amongst you. Visit Hanoi’s famous ‘Fried Chicken Street’ on a nice evening and feast on chicken and beer like a Medieval King. Take your pick of flame roasted chicken breast, legs, wings and even feet covered in delicious spices, all served with a unique chili sauce. Don’t forget to order some delicious honey grilled bread and potatoes on the side.
Best from: Ly Van Phuc Street
- Bún Cá
Bún cá, is a delicious fish filled alternative to pho. It uses thinner bún noodles, a slightly different spice palette and often includes thinly sliced pineapple pieces to give it more of an exotic taste. Best served with some chilli paste and some delicious Nem Cá (Fish spring rolls)
Bánh mì are Vietnam’s very own version of the French baguette. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, they can be filled with pate and egg as well as a selection of other ingredients. Perfect for a snack on the go.
Best from: Anywhere!
10. Phở Cuốn
Last but not least is phở cuốn. Despite looking more like a spring roll, it is actually a giant pho noodle, the same used in the famous soup. This is wrapped around sautéed beef and greens and dipped into a sweet chili dipping sauce. They are highly addictive and we give our TFV guarantee that if you go once it won’t be your only time!
Best from: 31 Truc Bach, Truc Bach District
Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam. All rights reserved.