Our Hanoi food guide showcases the best food that we ate in Hanoi during our three weeks in Vietnam’s chaotic capital city. We arrived knowing that we would like the pho, but it turns out that the Hanoi food scene is so much more than soup.
Stepping into the chaotic streets of Hanoi can be scary. Wherever you are, motorbikes and cars whiz by haphazardly. There aren’t many cross walks, and the relative few in the city are more suggestive than heeded. And let’s not even get into the hawker ladies aggressively selling their wares on shoulder poles that are also used to trap tourists. Sounds awful, right? Wrong! Hanoi’s chaos is part of what makes it uniquely wonderful. The other part is the food.
Hanoi is a city that takes the phrase “street food” seriously – food is literally everywhere. Each block has dozens of cafes, with diners spilling on to sidewalks littered with tiny plastic chairs representing every primary color of the rainbow and similarly sized tables. During the day, street vendors sell fruit and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. It’s nighttime though when the streets really come alive with all kinds of food including our personal favorite – meat on a stick.
Finding food in Hanoi is the opposite of a challenge. Instead, at least for visitors, the challenge is knowing what to eat in Hanoi and where to find the best food. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.Use our Hanoi food guide, and you’ll be sure to eat well during your visit.
- 2foodtrippers Hanoi Food Guide
- Pho (Noodle Soup)
- Cha Ca (Grilled & Fried Fish with Rice Noodles)
- Xoi (Sticky Rice)
- Bun Cha (Grilled Pork & Noodles)
- Bun Bo Nam Bo (Beef & Noodles)
- Banh Mi (Baguette Sandwich)
- Pho Cuon (Rice Noodle Rolls)
- Pho Chien Phong (Fried Pho Noodles)
- Nem Ca Xa Lo4 (Catfish Spring Rolls)
- Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls)
- Che (Sweet Dessert Soup)
- Related Posts
2foodtrippers Hanoi Food Guide
Pho (Noodle Soup)
Oh, Hanoi Pho, how do we love you? Let us count the ways. We love you for your savory broth and your slow-cooked meat, both beef and chicken. We love you for your reasonable price of around $2 US. We love you for your condiments, especially the small but potent red peppers. Most of all, we love you for your freshly made rice noodles that we always swirl on our chopsticks before slurping into our mouths.
Pho originated in Hanoi and is arguably the national dish of Vietnam. We could eat this soup morning, noon and night. In fact, we did while in Hanoi. Watch our Hanoi Pho Video to see us in action eating Pho.
Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup)
Though we’ve eaten Beef Pho many times before, but never like in Hanoi. We stumbled into Pho Bat Dan on our first night in town and ate there another half dozen times over the next three weeks. The lines may often be long (a good sign) compared to the other pho shops, but the wait is well worth it when the reward is cheap bowls of soup with ultra-fresh ingredients and slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth slices of beef.
Pho Bat Dan is located at 49 Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup)
Tucked away on an alley near the Hanoi Hilton, Pho Lam Nam Ngu serves the kind of Chicken Pho that we wish we could easily eat every day without getting bored. Eating here is a full-on experience starting with the women cooking the soup over coals and continuing inside the bare bones restaurant with long community tables and wooden benches. It’s the soup, though, that steals the show with its clear broth and tender chicken. Don’t even get us started on the condiments…
Pho Lam Nam Ngu is located at 7 Nam Ngư, Cửa Nam, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Cha Ca (Grilled & Fried Fish with Rice Noodles)
We fell in love with the Hanoi food scene while eating Cha Ca at our first lunch at non-touristy Cha Ca Phan. Cha Ca, a Northern Vietnamese specialty involves pan-fried chunks of meaty, fatty skinned fish, turmeric, dill, peanuts, shrimp paste and rice noodles. Check out our Cha Ca Hanoi Video to see what it’s like to make and eat Cha Ca.
Cha Ca Phan is located at 20 Xóm Hạ Hồi, Hanoi, Hoàn Kiếm, Vietnam.
Xoi (Sticky Rice)
Sticky rice may be the ultimate Hanoi comfort food. We especially liked the version at popular Xoi Yen, where they flavor the glutinous rice with green mung bean paste and lots of chicken fat. Topped with meat and paired with a bottle of beer, Hanoi sticky rice is a true guilty pleasure.
Xoi Yen is located at 35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Bun Cha (Grilled Pork & Noodles)
If Pho is Hanoi’s number one dish, then Bun Cha is easily number two when it comes to being a local food favorite. And who can blame the locals for loving this dish where grilled pork and rice noodles are the stars and fresh herbs, sliced papaya, red chili and garlic are the supporting players. If that’s not enough for you, then add fried spring rolls to the mix. Check out our Bun Cha Hanoi Video to see the full Bun Cha dining experience at Bun Cha Ba Duc.
Bun Cha Ba Đuc is located at 103 – C5 TT Giảng Võ (Trần Huy Liệu), Quận Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Bun Bo Nam Bo (Beef & Noodles)
No worries if you don’t eat pork, head over to Bun Bo Nam Bo for the Southern Vietnamese dish of the same. Unlike Pho and Bun Cha, this dish is not be a Hanoi creation, but it’s still worth eating at Bun Bo Nam Bo for the melange of ingredients (grilled beef, veggies, herbs, peanuts and crispy onions) artfully served together in one big bowl. When you eat Bun Bo Nam Bo, be sure to add fresh lime juice and chili sauce for maximum flavor.
Bun Bo Nam Bo is located at 89 Hàng Điếu, Cửa Đông Hoàn Kiếm Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Banh Mi (Baguette Sandwich)
As hard as we tried, we never found the perfect Banh Mi in Hanoi, though we ate several in our quest. They were all good but not great. Though our quest continues for the Banh Mi greatness, we can’t neglect including the Vietnamese staple in our Hanoi food guide.
Banh Mi baguettes can be found throughout the city.
Pho Cuon (Rice Noodle Rolls)
If you love rice noodles, then you will love Pho Cuon where big rice noodles are rolled around beef and green herbs to create a delightful finger food. If the delicate flavors aren’t enough for you, then ramp it up by dipping the Pho Cuon into Nuoc Cham, a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili. Check out our Pho Cuon in Hanoi Video to learn more about Pho Cuon.
Pho Cuon Huong Sơn is located at 19 Ngũ Xã, Trúc Bách , Tây Hồ, Ha Noi, Vietnam.
Pho Chien Phong (Fried Pho Noodles)
We discovered Pho Chien Phong in the Truc Bach neighborhood, the same neighborhood where we ate Pho Cuon. In this dish, the pho noodles are cut into squares, deep fried and then topped with beef and sautéed green vegetables. Considering that we previously dubbed these squares as “little pillows of yumminess”, it’s fair to say that we highly recommend this dish.
Pho Cuon Vin Phong is located at 40 Ngũ, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Nem Ca Xa Lo4 (Catfish Spring Rolls)
Highway4 was double recommended to us, first by a friend of a friend who previously lived in Hanoi and then by our local fixer, so it was a no-brainer for us to check out this relatively fancy Old Quarter spot. As we sipped on rice wine and feasted on a variety of Northern Vietnamese dishes, we especially enjoyed the catfish spring rolls. This modern take on a traditional spring roll has gently fried catfish and herbs inside a clear rice wrapper, but the real star of the dish may be the wasabi soy sauce served on the side.
Highway4 is located at 25 Bát Sứ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls)
When we think about our time in Hanoi, a key memory will likely be sitting on small plastic chairs and eating Banh Cuon for the first time. We had never eaten this dish before, and we immediately fell in love with the big pieces of fermented rice noodles served with fresh herbs and bowls of pork, mushroom and minced shallots. Our love for Banh Cuon did not fade when we later heard a rumor that the dipping sauce may have been flavored with ca cuona, the essence of a giant water bug. If the rumor is true, then we got some extra protein.
Buon Quon ba Hoanh is located at 66 Tô Hiến Thành, Bùi Thị Xuân, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Che (Sweet Dessert Soup)
Che is a Vietnamese dessert that we had not tried prior to our Hanoi visit, and we were unclear what it was until we tasted the sweet dish in Hanoi. Che can be either hot or cold, and it can have a wide range of ingredients like mung beans, red beans, fruit and tapioca beads. We sampled a couple of varieties at decades old Che Ba Thin in the Old Quarter, but our favorite was this hot sugar cane brew with a porridge like texture and a strong ginger taste.
Che Ba Thin is located at 1 Bat Dan and Hang Gai,Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Drinks are a very important part of life in Hanoi since it’s important to stay hydrated in the hot climate. While in Hanoi, our drinks of choice skewed toward the local beer (Bia Ha Noi) and an old stand-by (Coca Cola). Sometimes, though, we wanted something different to drink. When we did, here’s what we drank.
Tra Sua (Milk Tea)
It turns out that milk tea doesn’t actually have any milk in it, at least not at Truang Xuan Teahouse. We enjoyed a pleasant break here after touring the Temple of Literature. Like most drinks in Vietnam, milk tea is sweetened. Other options at the chill teahouse include jasmine, lotus and ginger.
Truang Xuan Teahouse is located at Ngô Tất Tố, Dong Da, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Ca Phe (Coffee)
We always seek out coffee shops when we travel, both for the caffeinated elixir as well as for work spaces with wi-fi. Though we weren’t sure what to expect in Hanoi in this regard, we found a thriving coffee scene with a wide range of coffee shops serving both traditional Vietnamese coffee drinks with sweetened condensed milk and western coffee drinks with espresso and steamed fresh milk. Exploring the Hanoi coffee shops is fun. Some cafes are hidden, some double as art galleries and others serve their coffee with a view. Our favorites are listed here.
Cafe Pho Co is located at 11 hang trong ha noi, 11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Manzi is located at 14 Phan Huy Ích, Nguyễn Trung Trực, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Tranquil Coffee and Books is located at Cửa Đông Hoàn Kiếm Vietnam, 5 Nguyễn Quang Bích, Cửa Đông, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Xofa Cafe is located at 14, Tống Duy Tân, Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee)
Of all things we ate and drank in Hanoi, egg coffee may be our very favorite. At Cafe Giang, second generation owner Tri Hoa Nguyen makes the decadent beverage by adding a sweet topping of whisked chicken egg yolk, Vietnamese powder, sweetened condensed milk, butter and cheese over a base of strong coffee. Is it a coffee or is it a dessert? The answer is “yes” to that question, but the bigger question is when can we drink it again. Check out our Egg Coffee Hanoi Video to find out more about this decadent Hanoi coffee dessert.
Cafe Giang is located at 39B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.
We thank Mai Nguyen from Tho Loves Food. Our visit to Hanoi would not have been the same without her friendship and guidance.