If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, Hanoi is a must-visit destination for foodies. The capital city is known for its vibrant street food scene and diverse culinary offerings. From savory pho noodle soup to refreshing sugarcane juice, there’s something for everyone in Hanoi. In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the food and drink of Hanoi, sharing our top recommendations for what to eat and drink in the city.
What is Hanoi Food & Drink?
Hanoi food and drink refers to the cuisine and beverages that are unique to or commonly found in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city. Hanoi is famous for its street food culture, which features an array of dishes that are both affordable and delicious. Some of the most popular Hanoi foods include pho (noodle soup), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and egg coffee. Hanoi also has a thriving cafe scene, with many coffee shops offering specialty brews and sweet treats.
Who Should Try Hanoi Food & Drink?
Anyone who loves food and wants to experience the authentic flavors of Vietnam should try Hanoi food and drink. Hanoi’s culinary scene has something for everyone, from meat lovers to vegans. If you’re a fan of spicy dishes, be sure to check out the bun bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup. Vegetarians will also find plenty of options, such as the bun cha gio chay, a vegetarian version of the classic bun cha dish.
When to Try Hanoi Food & Drink?
Hanoi food and drink can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However, there are a few specific times when you might want to try them:
1. During the autumn season (September to November): This is when the weather is cool and pleasant, making it a great time to explore street food stalls and outdoor cafes.
2. During the Lunar New Year (Tet): This is the biggest traditional holiday in Vietnam, usually celebrated in late January or early February. During this time, Hanoi is filled with festive decorations and special Tet food and drinks, offering a unique culinary experience.
3. During the rainy season (May to September): When it rains, Hanoi’s food scene gets even cozier. Enjoying a hot bowl of pho or sipping on a cup of ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) while watching the rain can be a delightful experience.
4. During the evening: Hanoi comes alive in the evening with night markets and bustling street food stalls. Exploring the city after dusk gives you a chance to taste various dishes unique to Hanoi’s vibrant nightlife.
Remember, Hanoi has a diverse food scene that is enjoyable year-round, so you can try local food and drinks whenever you visit.
How to Try Hanoi Food & Drink?
The best way to try Hanoi food and drink is by exploring the city’s street food scene. Head to the Old Quarter to find bustling food stalls selling everything from banh mi to pho. Be sure to try some of the city’s most famous dishes, such as bun cha and egg coffee. If you’re not comfortable with street food, there are also plenty of sit-down restaurants that serve Hanoi cuisine.
Pros and Cons of Trying Hanoi Food & Drink
- Hanoi food and drink is delicious and affordable
- The city has a thriving street food culture
- Hanoi’s cuisine incorporates fresh, local ingredients
- The city offers a diverse range of dishes for all tastes
- Street food can be intimidating for some travelers
- Hygiene standards may not meet Western expectations at some food stalls
- Some dishes may be too spicy for those with sensitive palates
Alternatives to Hanoi Food & Drink
If you’re not a fan of Vietnamese cuisine or want to mix things up, there are plenty of alternative dining options in Hanoi. The city has a growing international food scene, with many restaurants serving Korean, Japanese, and Western cuisine. You could also try visiting one of Hanoi’s vegetarian or vegan restaurants, such as Zenith Yoga Cafe or Minh Chay.
Tips for Trying Hanoi Food & Drink
1. Start with the traditional dishes: Pho, Bun Cha, and Banh Mi are some of the must-try dishes in Hanoi. Look out for local street vendors or small restaurants that specialize in these dishes for an authentic experience.
2. Visit local markets: Hanoi’s markets like Dong Xuan Market or Cho Hom Market offer a wide variety of fresh produce, local snacks, and ingredients used in Vietnamese cuisine. Explore the markets to get a better understanding of the local food scene and try some unique ingredients.
3. Try street food: Hanoi is famous for its street food culture. Take a walk around the Old Quarter, where you’ll find numerous street food vendors selling delicious snacks like spring rolls, grilled meats, and sweet treats. Be adventurous and try something new!
4. Sample local drinks: Besides traditional Vietnamese coffee, try other local beverages like Bia Hoi (fresh beer), Nuoc Mia (sugarcane juice), or Chè (sweet dessert soup). These drinks are popular among locals and offer a refreshing taste.
5. Seek recommendations from locals: Ask the locals for their favorite food spots or dishes. They can suggest hidden gems and provide insights on where to find the best Hanoi cuisine that may not be mentioned in tourist guidebooks.
6. Be mindful of hygiene: While street food is a must-try in Hanoi, make sure to pay attention to the cleanliness and hygiene of the food stalls. Look for stalls with a high turnover of customers and food that is cooked or served fresh.
7. Dare to venture beyond your comfort zone: Hanoi cuisine can offer unique flavors and ingredients that might be different from what you’re used to. Don’t be afraid to step out of your culinary comfort zone and try something new and exciting.
8. Learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases: Knowing a few basic Vietnamese phrases like hello, thank you, and asking for recommendations can go a long way. The locals will appreciate your effort and may be more willing to help you discover the best food and drink options.
9. Take a cooking class: Consider enrolling in a cooking class in Hanoi to learn how to prepare traditional dishes yourself. This will not only allow you to experience the local food culture hands-on but also give you the opportunity to recreate the flavors back home.
10. Enjoy the atmosphere: Hanoi has a vibrant food scene with bustling markets, crowded street food stalls, and cozy local restaurants. Take your time to soak in the atmosphere, chat with locals, and fully immerse yourself in the Hanoi food and drink experience.
The Best Hanoi Food & Drink
When it comes to experiencing the best food and drink in Hanoi, there are several iconic dishes and beverages to try. Here are some of the must-try options:
1. Pho: This renowned Vietnamese noodle soup is a staple in Hanoi. It typically consists of beef or chicken, rice noodles, and a fragrant broth with various herbs and spices. Pho Thin and Pho Bat Dan are popular spots to try this dish.
2. Bun Cha: A specialty of Hanoi, bun cha is a delicious combination of grilled pork patties, served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce. Look for Bun Cha Huong Lien, known as the place where former U.S. President Barack Obama dined on this dish.
3. Banh Mi: Hanoi is famous for its tasty banh mi sandwiches. These baguettes are filled with a variety of ingredients such as pork, pâté, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. Banh Mi 25 and Banh Mi Pho Thin are popular choices.
4. Egg Coffee: A unique Hanoi invention, egg coffee is a must-try beverage for coffee lovers. It consists of a rich, creamy egg yolk mixture topped with strong Vietnamese coffee. Giang Cafe is renowned for serving the best egg coffee in Hanoi.
5. Bia Hoi: For beer enthusiasts, enjoying fresh Bia Hoi is a must-do experience in Hanoi. Bia Hoi is draft beer made daily and served at street-side establishments. Sitting on small plastic stools, locals and tourists gather to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Some popular spots are Bia Hoi Junction and Bia Hoi Corner.
6. Cha Ca: Cha Ca is a Hanoi specialty featuring fish fillets marinated in turmeric, then grilled or fried and served with dill, peanuts, rice noodles, and a fish sauce dressing. Cha Ca La Vong is the most famous restaurant known for serving this dish.
7. Nem Ran: Also referred to as Hanoi-style spring rolls or fried spring rolls, Nem Ran are crispy rolls filled with minced pork, mushroom, taro, and various spices. They are typically served with a side of dipping sauce. Some popular places to try Nem Ran are Nem Ran Hang Vo and Ngo Dong Xuan Nem Cua Be.
These are just a few of the delicious dishes and beverages that make up Hanoi’s vibrant food scene. Exploring the city’s street food stalls and local restaurants will undoubtedly provide a memorable culinary experience.
What is the difference between Northern and Southern Vietnamese cuisine?
Northern Vietnamese cuisine is known for its more subtle and simple flavors, as well as its preference for using fresh herbs and vegetables. Popular dishes include pho, bun cha, and banh cuon (steamed rice rolls). Southern Vietnamese cuisine, on the other hand, tends to be sweeter and spicier, with a greater emphasis on seafood. Some popular Southern dishes include banh xeo (savory crepes), com tam (broken rice with grilled meats), and hu tieu (noodle soup).
What are some must-visit cafes in Hanoi?
Hanoi has a thriving cafe culture, with many coffee shops offering unique brews and tasty treats. Some must-visit cafes include Cong Caphe, which serves up traditional Vietnamese coffee in a retro setting, and Giang Cafe, which is famous for its egg coffee.
Is it safe to eat street food in Hanoi?
Eating street food in Hanoi can be safe if you take certain precautions. Look for busy stalls with high turnover, as this usually indicates that the food is fresh. You should also ask for your food to be cooked fresh and avoid any dishes that have been sitting out for a long time. Finally, make sure to bring hand sanitizer and wet wipes to clean your hands before eating.
What are some vegetarian-friendly Hanoi dishes?
Vegetarians will find plenty of delicious options in Hanoi. Some popular dishes include the bun cha gio chay (vegetarian version of bun cha), goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), and pho chay (vegetarian pho). Many restaurants also offer tofu and vegetable stir-fries.
Can I get food poisoning from eating street food in Hanoi?
There is always a risk of food poisoning when eating street food, but you can minimize this risk by choosing stalls that look clean and fresh. Avoid anything that looks like it’s been sitting out for a long time, and make sure your food is cooked fresh. If you’re worried about getting sick, stick to cooked dishes rather than raw foods like salads.