Hanoi is both the political capital and the culinary capital of Vietnam. Compared to other cities in Vietnam, Hanoi food tends to be sweeter and uses freshwater ingredients like shrimp, squid, shrimp, crab, clam, and mussels. You can also find familiar Vietnamese street foods like pho, spring rolls, rolls, and meat skewers. Read on this post to explore must-try dishes in Hanoi during your trip to this beautiful city.
- 1 Must-Try Dishes in Hanoi
- 1.1 Cha Ca (Turmeric Fish with Dill)
- 1.2 Mien Xao Luon (Glass Noodles with Deep-Fried Eel)
- 1.3 Bun Thang (Rice Vermicelli with Chicken, Egg, Pork)
- 1.4 Banh cuon (Rolled Cake)
- 1.5 Banh Goi (Fried Dumplings)
- 1.6 Xoi Xeo (Sweet Sticky Rice)
- 1.7 Nem Chua Be (Crab Rolls)
- 1.8 Bun Rieu (Rice Noodles in Tomato Broth)
Must-Try Dishes in Hanoi
Cha Ca (Turmeric Fish with Dill)
A distinctive Hanoi delicacy, cha ca is white fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric, and dill served on a sizzling pan. Diners also get a bowl of rice noodles, peanuts, chopped spring onions, parsley, nuoc cham sauce, and red chili slices, all of which are meant to be mixed along with the turmeric fish. Cha ca is so popular amongst locals that there’s a street in Hanoi Old Quarter named after it, though the simplest and affordable places to enjoy this seafood delicacy is at Cha Ca Thang Long in Duong Thanh Street.
Mien Xao Luon (Glass Noodles with Deep-Fried Eel)
Mien xao luon is another tasty option for seafood lovers, comprising stir-fried glass noodles in an eel-based broth with generous toppings of crunchy eels, bean sprouts, egg, cucumber slices, fried shallots, and purple perilla. Like many dishes in Hanoi, a side of fresh herbs, shaved banana blossoms, and bean sprouts are served on the side.
Bun Thang (Rice Vermicelli with Chicken, Egg, Pork)
This is one of the must-try dishes in Hanoi. Bun thang or rice vermicelli with chicken, egg, and pork are often enjoyed at any time of the day. The clear yet flavourful broth is formed with 20 ingredients, including dried shrimp, squid, shrimp paste, onion, coriander, ginger, mushroom, beet, fish sauce, candy, and vinegar. it’s also a very attractive Hanoi dish because the noodles, chicken, eggs, pork slices, and a dollop of shrimp paste are carefully arranged to resemble a flower.
Banh cuon (Rolled Cake)
Great as a lightweight breakfast or midday snack, banh cuon could be a combination of ground meat (chicken, shrimp, or pork), minced wood ear mushroom, onions, Vietnamese ham (cha lua), steamed beansprouts, and cucumbers that’s wrapped in a very steamed rice flour sheet. Its overall taste is extremely mild despite the savory ingredients, and you’ll be able to also dip the banh cuon into nuoc cham sauce for added flavor. You’ll easily spot roadside vendors selling banh cuon everywhere Hanoi, but Banh Cuon Gia Truyen in Old Quarter may be a good alternative because the restaurant provides menus with English translations.
Banh Goi (Fried Dumplings)
Shaped like miniature pillows (hence the name), banh goi contains finely-chopped glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, minced pork, steamed quail eggs, and seasoning within a rice-flour pastry. It’s then deep-fried for a crispy texture and served with a sweet-sour dipping sauce made with garlic, chili, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. You’ll be able to also pair your banh goi with fresh lettuce and coriander leaves if you discover it too greasy to enjoy it on its own.
Xoi Xeo (Sweet Sticky Rice)
Xoi xeo or sweet sticky rice usually comes with staple toppings of green Vigna radiata paste, soy sauce, and dried shallots, but you’ll choose a spread of add-ins like pate, boiled chicken, cha lua (Vietnamese ham), marinated side of pork, or preserved eggs for a more substantial meal. Some restaurants also serve xoi xeo as dessert, topped with dried coconut shavings, roasted sesame seeds, and crystallized sugar.
Nem Chua Be (Crab Rolls)
A popular Vietnamese street food, nem chua be (crabmeat rolls) are sold in street markets and native restaurants within Hanoi – a decent choice is Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim in Hanoi Old Quarter. This crispy snack is formed sort of a square and remove bite-sized pieces, containing generous fillings of minced crab, pork, mushrooms, and various spices. Eat just like the locals treat pairing nem chua with fresh herbs and lettuce, similarly as dipping it in nuoc cham sauce.
Bun Rieu (Rice Noodles in Tomato Broth)
Bun rieu comprises thin rice noodles with freshwater paddy crab and shrimp paste that’s served in a tomato broth. A breakfast staple amongst locals, the dish is additionally garnished with bean sprouts, prawn paste, herb leaves, tamarind/lime, tofu, water spinach, and tomato chunks. Like most Vietnamese noodle soups, local restaurants offer a basket of greens and herbs on each table, like leaf lettuce, perilla leaves, cilantro, shredded vine stem, and also deep-fried crullers for dunking directly into the soup.
These are must-try dishes in Hanoi that you should eat to know more about its cuisine.