Culinary attraction in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi has long been an attractive destination for its scenic spots, historical and cultural sites, and unique cuisine. In 2012 the Asia Record Organization recognized 12 Vietnamese dishes in the food category of Asian values. They include 3 dishes from Hanoi: Pho, Bun Cha, and Bun Thang. Recently the Telegraph selected Hanoi as one of the world’s best cities for food.

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Night market on weekends in Hanoi’s Old Quarter is always crowded

On busy streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter tourists can see countless food shops selling several kinds of foods such as young sticky rice or com, steamed glutinous rice or xoi, cakes, Pho, Bun Cha (rice noodle with grilled pork), Bun Thang (noodle in chicken broth), and Banh Tom (crisp shrimp pastry). Beer and food shops have attracted millions of Vietnamese and foreign tourists to Hanoi.

Mai Tien Dung, former Deputy Director of Hanoi’s Department for Culture Sports, and Tourism, says: “Hanoi was the capital city for more than a thousand years. It’s the convergence of national quintessence including cuisine. Hanoi has several famous dishes and foreign tourists are impressed by Hanoi’s dishes. Many Hanoi’s dishes have been mentioned in world travel guide books with their original names like Nem, Pho, and Cha Ca.”

The capital Hanoi has produced many delicious dishes in Vietnam’s culinary art such as Pho, Bun Cha, and Nem (spring roll). Tourists prefer to taste these dishes at street eateries, particularly in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Ta Hien, Ma May, and Hang Buom streets in downtown Hanoi are considered the paradise of food, especially its many kinds of noodle.

Pho, a popular dish of Vietnamese people, is ranked 28th in CNN’s list of world’s best foods. It said the homeland of Pho is Hanoi and Pho now has become an international worthy cuisine.

Pho is a rice noodle soup with chicken or beef broth. Eaters will add some spices such as chili, lemon juice, and pepper to bring out its flavor. There are famous new Pho shops such as Pho Vuong and Pho 24 besides traditional Pho shops using family recipes. Pho Thin in Lo Duc Street has been famous for its Pho with half-fried beef which is greasy and aromatic spicy.

Thu Lan from Pho Thin says: “Pho Thin has existed for more than 40 years. It’s our family trade and only our brothers and sisters work here. Many of our customers come from afar because they know about our reputation.”

Tourists to Hanoi also want to try Bun Thang, vermicelli in chicken and shrimp soup. It is the most sophisticated noodle of Hanoians. The broth made from chicken bones and shrimp has to be pure and slightly sweet but not too greasy. A great bowl of bun thang is not only tasty but well-decorated.

Nguyen Thi My owns a Bun Thang eatery in Hang Hom Street: “I took over the trade from my grandparent in 1991. Bun Thang is the second popular dish to Pho. The materials include noodle, fried egg, shredded chicken breast, shrimp, pork paste, mushroom, and variety of herbs. I’m very happy that Bun Thang is renowned worldwide.”

Hanoi’s Bun Cha is a popular and delicious dish which comprises of rice noodle, grilled pork, spice, raw vegetables, and well mixed fish sauce.  The sauce is mixed to contain all the essential tastes: sour, hot, salty, and sweet.

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Bun Cha
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Bun Thang
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Beef Pho
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An eatery in Hanoi’s Old Quarter sells many kinds of cakes from other localities