Just like other Asian cites, Hanoi, Vietnam offers a wide variety of food for those who visit it. There are a lot of street stalls where you dine on these flimsy plastic stools and tables. It seems that each stall/restaurant specialises in one thing.
Hanoi is the food capital of Vietnam, where food is plentiful where it can be found on the side streets and alleyways. You will see local people selling food just about anywhere and everywhere. If its not busy, they would pack up and head to another spot. we were regularly flagged down where the vendor told us to ‘come’ trying to convenience us to buy their food. (half of the time I was disinterested, as I know they sell them at extortionate prices to tourists.
Below are a few establishments which we went to and quite enjoyed.
Recommendation from Plus 1 work colleague who originated from Hanoi. I would never have thought to visit this place, as it is located in this small alley which you would not notice if you walked past. This is not the flashest of places and perhaps not a place for the faint hearted who are seeking somewhere with a set hygiene rating.
Large pots of broth are cooked on coal/wood ad the meat sitting in bowls on the counter.
There was no English menu, but managed to order by pointing, as it seems that they serve one thing. Pho.
Pho Bo – The Pho was delicious. the broth was clear, salty and peppery with both cooked and rare meat which eventually cooked itself in the piping hot broth . We were the only ones dining as we arrived quite late in the evening in search for something light and cheap for dinner. Lots of meat which Plus 1 enjoyed. We shared a bowl between two of us. Serving size was quite large. Came with a selection of different cuts and style of beef.
Location: 61 Dinh Tien Hoang (in an alley),
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim
Specialising in bun cha which are Charcoal Grilled Pork Patties with Vermicelli Noodles and Herbs. Totally delicious.
We ordered a combo which came with soup, grilled pork patties drink, rice noodles and some salad leaves/herbs
Cha Gio – roughly means ‘minced pork rolls’, which are deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls where rice paper used as the wrappers, containing a selection of pork, shrimp, crab meat, with shredded carrots, mung bean noodles etc. These were delightful. Hot and crispy on the outside. The filling is succulent and full of flavour, which actually goes really well with the accompanying sweet dipping sauce.
Location: 1 Hang Manh, Hanoi
Café Pho Co
Egg Coffee – interesting to say the least. The coffee itself was nice, and with this whipped egg white like meringue substance was interesting to say the least.
I quite enjoyed it, however its not something you would drink on a daily basis.
The views overlooking the lake was beautiful and quite. I think this is quite a touristy spot. When we arrived there were only tourists here. This place was recommended to us by Plus 1’s colleague who is a local Hanoian. I just wonder how these tourists know about this place, as this is not the easiest place to find as you have to walk in to a art type shop, down a long corridor and up several flights of stairs.
Coffee was introduced into Vietnam by French colonists in the late 19th century. Vietnam quickly became a strong exporter of coffee with many plantations in the central highlands. The beverage was adopted with regional variations. Because of limitations on the availability of fresh milk, the French and Vietnamese began to use sweetened condensed milk with a dark roast coffee. Today, Hanoians like to drink coffee in the morning time. In fact, sitting on small chair in pavement with a glass of coffee become the popular image of Hanoian. Travelers who visit Hanoi also like trying this delicious favours like Hanoians and tenderly recognize that no thing better than a cup of coffee at a modern and luxury or pavement cafes to soak up the rhythms of the street and embrace Hanoi from all of its sides, from old to new ones, and from traditional to modern & quirky ones. Beside a cum of coffee with sweet milk and/or a spoonful of sugar, Hanoians create new ways to enjoy coffee in Hanoi ca phe trung (egg coffee) and ca phe sua chua (yogurt coffee) which you coffee lovers may want to try
Location: 11 Hang Gai
Banh Cuon Gia Truyn
Steamed roll rice pancake with pork was ok, its good to know that these are made fresh. as you can see an old lady at the front of the store making them on demand.
The first impression which Bánh Cuốn gave us was its similarity to cheong fun (Rice rolls that you find at many Chinese Dim Sum restaurants Bánh Cuốn Gia Truyền had 3 different variants up for offer – pork fillings, chicken fillings and shrimp fillings. these are generally eaten for breakfast, but it does not stop people like myself from eating them any time during the day.
Bánh Cuốn Nhân Thịt Lợn – steamed roll rice pancake with pork was ok, but I much prefer the rice rolls you get at a Chinese dim sum restaurant, but it was good to try it out and how it tasted.
Location: 14 Pho Hang Ga, Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong restaurant
Cha Ca La Vong consists of river fish, turmeric, dill, peanut, ginger, spring onion, rice vermicelli and a fair load of oil.
Accompanied ingredients: Roasted peanut, mint, coriander, spring onion, dill, fish sauce and shrimp paste
A portable gas stove and a small frying pan were brought to our table and the art of preparation was done by a waiter. The grilled fish was seasoned with turmeric before hitting the frying pan. Heaps of dill, green onion, cilantro and mint were chucked into the sizzling pan. After 3-5 minutes of cooking, the dish was ready to be served. The seasoned grilled fish was adorned by a tangy combination of onion, ginger, green onion and dill. It was further fortified by the peanut and shrimp paste, which exploded into a heady flavor.
Location: 14 Cha Ca street, Hanoi
Ba Dan Banh Mi 0
Even though Banh Mi comes from the south, you can still find some places that offer banh mi in Hanoi and one of these place is Ba Dan Banh mi which specialises in Banh Mi.
Banh mi is filled with a selection of meats from pate to bbq pork to luncheon meats and pickles. On my way to meet plus 1 with my banh mi I brought some grilled pork chops from a lady who was heavily cooking them on the street ready for the lunch time rush.
I added these delicious pork chops into my banh mi to beef up slightly.
The bun itself was crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. the filling was well seasoned and the pickles giving off a good refreshing crunch that balanced the fattiness of the meats.
Location: 34 Lo Su, Hanoi
Quan An Ngon
Quan An Ngon is a huge hawker centre which generally caters towards tourists, with a cleaner environment, English menus and English wait staff.
There are a number of stalls selling different items. When you arrive you are seated and Menus are provided, however you can also wander past each store to see what they have on order. The wait staff will take your orders and bring the foods to you.
We ordered a selection of foods from various stall holders. Each were as expected. Made to order, fresh, well seasoned.
Prices are slightly more expensive than if you want to the local restaurants.
This is partly due to this place being more clean, English menus and English speaking wait staff.
Location: 18 Phan Boi Chau Str
Kem Xoi – ice cream with toasted coconut was different but not so satisfying that I had to order another desert item which I could not remember the name of but it had jack fruit, grass jelly, yoghurt. The yoghurt is not as creamy as the yoghurt you get back home, but had this slightly sour taste to it. The jack fruit was fresh and sweet. Perhaps the dessert that I was really after was more of an Asian dessert with sweet jellies and exotic fruits as oppose to ice cream.
Sua Chua Mit – Jackfruit yoghurt. I needed something else as the Kem Xoi did not satisfy me as I wanted something more sweet, more fruity. The Sua Chua Mit was delicious. The fresh sweet jackfruit that you can get back home in New Zealand was delightful.
Creme Caramel – was exactly as expected. creamy, sweet with a nice caramel sauce
Location: 8 Hai Bà Trưng
Pho Gia Truyn
The fixtures of the restaurant was rather old and tired, with tiny wooden stools and communal tables filling up the empty space. This may not be the most hygienic stall in Hanoi, but it sure does live up to its culinary standard.
Diners are required to order, pay and collect their Pho at the counter – It is 100% self service.
There are 3 different varieties of Pho to choose from:
Tai Nam (45,000 VND) – Rare steak and flank
Tai (40,000 VND) – Rare steak
Chin (35,000 VND) – Well done steak
Tai – The broth was clean and simple with a subtle undertones of complex flavors. The rice noodles was silky soft, unlike any other noodles I have tried before. The thinly sliced beef was accompanied by a generous amount of green onions and coriander leaves. The broth was fragrant and sweet, derived from the richness of the beef bones. Be sure to add some vinegar, red chili and hot sauce for extra flavoring!
Tai Nam – Rare steak and flank, similar to the tai, but with rare steak and flank that is usually cooked from the heat of the broth.
Ban Quay – fried bread sticks also known as You Tiao in Taiwan. You usually find these where Pho is served and are eat as is or dipping it into the broth of the pho. These are good belly fillers if the pho is not substantial enough to fill you up.
Location: 49 Bat Dan, Hanoi
Lion City Exclusive
We were roaming around this shopping mall trying to find a toilet when we walked past Lion City restaurant where one of the staff members was outside who lured us in with 50% off crabs today only. knowing Plus 1, who is a fan of Singaporean food and crab he decided to make a reservation for dinner. Apparently Lion City is the biggest Singapore restaurant chain.
We ordered Singapore chilli crab and some bread, as I was not feeling hungry in the slightest as I just had some Pho. Singaporean food was last on my list of foods to eat while we were in Vietnam. The crab was pretty good. large, and tasted very similar to the chilli crabs you get back in Singapore.
We ordered some breads, to be used to soak up the gravy. They initially gave us some roti, but we were after the fried breads. with the lack of understanding they came back with some slices of baguette. Plus 1 and I both looked at each rolling our eyes.
Location: Tràng Tiền Plaza, Hàng Bài, Hà Nội, Ha Tay, Vietnam
Nam Bit Tet
Specialising in Chim Quay – roast pigeon. Since I have never had pigeon before, I thought I would give this place a try, as this dish is not very common in New Zealand, and since this was Vietnam it was going to be really cheap too.
The pigeon had been expertly seasoned and cooked perfectly – especially important given that badly cooked pigeon can be very dry.
The roasted pigeon arrived, including the head and its feet. I was slightly taken aback and had to get Plus 1 to get rid of the head and feet, as I found it off putting. The pigeon tasted quite a lot like a less fatty, drier version of the roast duck you can get at Chinese barbecue restaurants.
A less exotic but no less delicious was the beef stir fried noodles, which was basically beef hor fun. Again, this was fantastic cooking with the noodles having that ‘breath of the wok’ char flavour and a good, balanced ratio of sauce, noodles, vegies and meat.
Location: 20 Hang Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam
On my way back to the hotel after picking up a banh mi, I saw this lady grilling pork outside the Loc Quan resturant
Grilled pork which I put into my banh mi was very tasty and succulent.
Location: 6 Tông Đản Lý Thái Tổ, Hoan
Che Ngon 93 –
Desserts I love Asian desserts. Very hard to get back home. I ordered the Suong Sa Hat Luu – which was coconut milk with a selection of jellies and lychee. Simple delicious and just want i needed to give my blood sugar levels a kick start.
Tiny chairs which you sit on and they would be delivered to you.
Location: 93 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi
Paris Baguette is an international brand, originally from Korea, serving quality and delicious breads, sandwiches, cakes, desserts and beverages
Royal Pudding – which is basically a milk pudding with a wobbly melty panna cotta texture. dessert is just right in terms of sugar level and I don’t find it too sweet for me. I gulped down the pudding rather quickly since it comes in such a tiny glass bottle. The glass bottle’s really cute too.
Location: Tràng Tiền Plaza, Hàng Bài, Hà Nội, Ha Tay, Vietnam