Hanoi, the capital city with a history of a thousand years, is not only a gathering place for the essence of culture but also the cradle of many street foods that contribute to the reputation of Vietnamese cuisine. Join Deluxe Group Tours to explore the top street foods in Hanoi, awakening your taste buds.
When it comes to Hanoi cuisine, one cannot ignore Hanoi pho (beef noodle soup). This street food originated in the early 20th century on the mobile stalls of the streets in Hanoi. Despite the proliferation of many establishments from north to south, Hanoi pho always delivers an irresistibly distinctive flavor.Described by an Indian culinary publication as a “symphony of flavors,” the creation of this dish involves a meticulous combination of ingredients. The soul of Hanoi pho lies in its broth, traditionally simmered by stewing beef or chicken for several hours to achieve a rich and fragrant base, infused with characteristic spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom.
The combination of soft and chewy rice noodle strands, made from rice flour, along with shredded beef or chicken, various herbs, and essential condiments like scallions, bean sprouts, lime, fresh chili, and garlic vinegar, creates an explosive blend of flavors from the very first bite.
If you want to taste authentic Hanoi pho, I recommend Pho Ganh Hang Chieu at the intersection of Hang Duong and Hang Chieu streets in Hoan Kiem District or Pho Duong Tau Hanoi at 3 Tran Phu in the same area.
Besides pho, bun cha is also a dish that carries the culinary soul of Hanoi. Although made from simple ingredients, the components selection and cooking methods are intricate.
Traditional Hanoi-style bun cha is prepared only with simple spices such as fish sauce, sugar, black peppers, crumbled green onions, and finely chopped dried onions, without ingredients like garlic, lemongrass, or oyster sauce used in the grilled meat vermicelli in Saigon today. Additionally, for the grilled pork patties to be delicious and beautifully colored, it is necessary to choose fresh pork with a light pink color and white, firm fat. When boiling the caramel, attention must be paid to the flame to ensure the broth has an amber or brownish color. The marinated pork patties must be grilled over charcoal and flipped evenly to ensure even cooking.
Whether it’s grilled pork patties or minced pork, they carry the charcoal aroma, both tender and sweet without being dry or burnt, combined with smooth white rice vermicelli and a harmonious sweet and sour dipping sauce. All these elements blend to create a symphony of flavors.
Not every street food eatery in Hanoi offers the authentic taste of bun cha. Here are some recommended places for authentic Hanoi-style bun cha: Bún Chả Ngõ 74 at Alley 74 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem District, or Bún Chả Bát Sứ at 23 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem District.
Renowned as a delicacy of Hanoi, “bánh cuốn” never fails to capture diners’ hearts from all regions.
These soft and refreshing banh cuon are made into thin, glossy rolls, revealing a filling of meat, fragrant mushrooms, and wood ear mushrooms, combined with the golden aroma of sautéed onions. The accompanying dipping sauce is mild, not overly sour or salty, with a hint of sweetness from sugar and a slightly spicy kick from pepper.
The plate of steaming banh cuon emanates the fragrance of rice, and the cakes themselves are soft, elastic, and slightly chewy. The bowl of amber-colored dipping sauce, with a touch of chili and slices of savory sausage, accompanied by fresh herbs like coriander, mint, and basil, makes your taste buds dance.
It’s not hard to come across banh cuon stalls along the street food quarters of Hanoi. However, “Bánh cuốn Thanh Trì” stands out with its distinctive flavor. Additionally, it would help if you also tried the taste at “Bánh cuốn Thụy Khuê,” tucked away in a small alley of Thụy Khuê, offering a traditional flavor that is truly enticing.
Hanoi cuisine is renowned for its subtle flavor, and snail noodle soup is an exquisite blend of sweet and sour broth with the unique aroma of various snails.
A bowl of authentic snail noodle soup is characterized by its rich and flavorful taste. The broth must be deliciously sweet and sour, with a hint of vinegar suddenly. The noodles should be soft but not mushy, perfectly blending with the broth. The snails are stir-fried to perfection, retaining the distinctive flavor of snails—tender and crisp without being chewy.
To achieve such a bowl of snail noodle soup, detailed attention is required in preparing the ingredients. The broth is made from simmering marrow bones, carefully skimming off impurities to ensure clarity. Various elements are added to the pot: tomatoes, vinegar, wine, fat, pepper, salt, sugar, and chili. The choice of noodles is crucial, and the preference is for the soft noodles from Phu Do Village, Nam Tu Liem District. These noodles remain elastic without breaking apart when soaked in water. The snails must be both tasty and plump.
The snail noodles are accompanied by fresh vegetables such as lettuce, lang basil, perilla leaves, Vietnamese balm, mint, and thinly sliced banana flowers, creating a rich and enjoyable flavor. What adds to the uniqueness is the accompanying bowl of fermented chili sauce, with tiny red chili seeds visible in its thick, dark red texture.
Lifting a steaming, aromatic bowl of hot snail noodles in hand, you experience a delightful sensation. The broth’s sweet taste, the noodles’ fragrant softness, the snails’ crunchy texture, the chili’s spicy heat, and occasionally the refreshing coolness from the lettuce and herbs combine to create an incredibly delicious street food experience.
Shrimp cake is a street food that has deeply ingrained itself in the consciousness of generations of Hanoi residents. With only simple ingredients, this dish has captured the hearts of many food enthusiasts in the capital city.
Inhale the rich aroma, savor the sour and sweet taste of fish sauce, the crispiness from fried flour, and the sweet and savory flavor of local shrimp; these elements are sure to leave unforgettable memories.
The ingredients for making shrimp cake are not overly complicated, consisting of only three main components: shrimp, flour, and eggs. Instead of grinding shrimp into a sticky paste like fish cakes, this dish uses whole shrimp marinated in spices for about 15–20 minutes. The shrimp is then dipped in a golden fried flour mixture with added eggs and deep-fried until it turns evenly golden. When scooping the batter into the pan, it’s essential to arrange the shrimp skillfully. Once deep fried, shrimp cake is fragrant, beautifully golden, and delightfully crispy.
A bite of shrimp cake reveals its delightful crispiness. The shrimp may not be too large, but they are sweet and have a firm texture. Enjoying shrimp cake is incomplete without a bowl of sweet and sour dipping sauce, pickled vegetables, and fresh greens. Nowadays, many eateries enhance this dish by adding shredded potatoes to increase its crunchiness.
If you want to savor the flavors of Hanoi, shrimp cake from West Lake is a must-try. For residents, West Lake Shrimp Cake is not just a dish; it also brings back many memories of family gatherings. Enjoying crispy and fragrant West Lake while admiring the serene waters of West Lake makes for an enchanting afternoon.
Originally known as a traditional cake made from rice flour mixed with lime water. After the cake cools, users will cut it into square-shaped pieces and dip it in Ban soya sauce. At this point, the cake exudes a unique aroma with a rich, soft, and chewy texture, soaked in the flavorful sauce.
However, in many places, bone broth is used, with a hint of sweet and sour spices added to make the dipping sauce for the cake. Therefore, when eating hot banh duc in Hanoi, users will experience a sweet taste, which is the natural sweetness of the bone broth, not sugar or artificial flavorings as many people might think.
To enhance the delicious aroma of hot plain rice flan, many sellers will sprinkle a few fried shallots with a rich and fatty flavor along with some finely chopped herbs. At this point, the taste buds of the users will be introduced to a new dimension, swaying between the aroma of stir-fried meat and the complex fragrance of herbs blended into the fatty fish sauce with fried shallots, creating a naturally sweet and savory flavor.
To savor a delicious hot plain rice flan, you can visit the hot plain rice flan stall on Le Ngoc Han Quater, which has been around for over 30 years.
There is a special drink that has created a unique charm for Hanoi, not only making Hanoians fall in love with it but also leaving a lasting impression on tourists. That is egg coffee, the street food specialty of Hanoi.
Emerging in the early 20th century, this beverage is closely associated with the memories and imprints of Hanoi’s ancient streets. It represents a cultural aspect and a distinctive style of enjoying coffee with a Vietnamese touch. The uniqueness of the brewing formula has turned egg coffee into a signature drink in the hearts of many connoisseurs. The Vietnamese coffee flavor, blended with the fluffy, aromatic, rich, and creamy whipped egg, combines the bitterness of coffee with the sweetness of milk.
Egg coffee is often made with chicken eggs and whipped together with a few drops of honey, so when you savor it, you can feel a fragrance reminiscent of pastries and a creamy yellow color. Despite being made with fresh eggs, it does not have a strong smell, and the bitterness of black coffee blends harmoniously with the rich creaminess of the egg, creating a distinctive taste.
Located on Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem, Café Giảng is an age-old egg coffee shop known since 1946 and promises to be one of the ideal places for you to experience this unique egg coffee.
Com is one of the specialties of autumn in Hanoi. The green, sticky grains with a delicate flavor make a lasting impression on those who travel from afar. Whenever people have the opportunity to visit Hanoi during the autumn season, many take the time to search for and purchase com to preserve something uniquely Hanoian.
The majority of com production takes place in Vong Village, Lu Village, and Me Tri-Village. Among them, the most famous and delicious is the com from Vong Village.
To obtain fragrant and delicious com, with a gentle aroma reminiscent of the autumn season in Hanoi, a meticulous process is required, from selecting the rice to processing.
Strolling around the streets of Hanoi, the breeze carries the scent of com, wafting through every corner of the city. Visiting Hanoi during the autumn and savoring each chewy grain of com has become a ritual for those exploring the city.
Apart from enjoying com with ripe banana and roasted sesame seeds, it is also transformed into various delicious dishes, such as com cake, com sticky rice, etc.