Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city has a lot to offer, from the mausoleum of Uncle Ho Chi Minh, the One Pillar Pagoda, the crazy new buildings being built in the business district, and of course the great food and drink that can be enjoyed in the fabulous old quarter. Even Donald Trump and Marshal Kim Jong Un decided to come here.
But if you really want to understand the life and attitude of the Hanoians, then the only way is to jump head-first into the fabulous Hanoi street food scene.
There’s a lot of sights, sounds and smells to deal with when sampling Hanoi street food, but don’t be put off! Let The Street Food Guy guide you to the top 5 spots for Street Food in Hanoi!
The Best Street Food of Hanoi
Old Quarter, Hanoi
Our first entry might not exactly be street food – in fact it is not at all; it’s beer –but this is no ordinary beer. Ba Hoi is not only brewed and delivered daily, but has to be drunk that very day. You will see Bia Hoi bars throughout Hanoi, but the best place to get drinking is in the Old Quarter.
Oh and get this! It costs 5000 dong a glass! Now that might sound a lot, but it’s 20 cents a glass. Let that sink in a bit. The glasses are small though, and there’s a 100-beer challenge if you’re so inclined.
Phở Bo Gia Truyen
Old Quarter – 49 Bat Dan
Frankly you’ve not been to Vietnam unless you try Phở at least once. Phở was inspired by the French settlers and can be called your quintessential fusion cuisine. It’s basically a soup with meat and noodles.
You can (and will) see and eat Phở everywhere, but at Phở Gia Truyen it’s so good that people line up around the street to get it every morning.
Seemingly most backstreets of Hanoi
I guess the best way to describe this dish would be Vietnamese hot pot, and it is a particularly big thing in Hanoi. When you’re walking along many a backstreet you will see a sign that says “Lau” and then the words for beef/ fish etc, and then a price from anywhere between 99000 and 150000 dong, which is between about $4-6 and is enough to feed at least two people.
Vietnamese hot pot differs from its Chinese cousin in that you get your salt, and calamansi (small lime), pineapple, and Vietnamese hot sauce! A fine Vietnamese meal.
French colonial rule might not be looked upon that favourably, but holy moly did they do Vietnam a culinary solid! Nuöng – or Vietnamese BBQ – has you sitting in front of a hot plate and a fire with foil on the plate. You then add lashings of butter. Comes in three flavors: meat, fish, or vegetarian, although all come with vegetables regardless.
This is some of the best fusion cuisine you can have in Vietnam; to read more about it check out this link.
Bo Dinh District and most backstreets
Bánh Tôm is another Vietnamese favourite that originates in good old Hanoi. What is Banh Tom? It’s battered sweet potato and shrimp!
The bright colours come from the tamarind and the natural colours of the shrimp and sweet potato, and you can either eat it as it is, or wrap it in a lettuce leaf and then dip it in the nuoc mam cham spicy dipping sauce! As you can imagine this tends to make a great post-beer snack after you’ve knocked back a few in the Old Quarter.
The other day at Amazonia Bar in Tirana whilst sampling the joys of Albanian cuisine I ate the head of a lamb, complete with brains, eyes, the whole nine yards. Didn’t like it all that much if I’m gonna be honest, but as I looked back on things, I realized it was the worst food …