Rather than just finding your way through the bustling streets of Hanoi, allow yourself to get lost in the flavours and aromas of its street foods. Hanoi is not a place for fine dining, but a place to explore its culinary beauty in its rawest form. You can now authentically try the popular dishes of Vietnam, like pho and vermicelli. And as you get ready to go through with this exploration, here is a guide to the most popular street foods in Hanoi you need to try.
Bún chả is a Vietnamese dish of barbecued pork and noodle or rice vermicelli. It is served with herbs (cabbage, Láng basil, rice paddy herb, bean sprout, Vietnamese balm) and a side dish of dipping sauce and crushed garlic, crushed chilli, vinegar, ground pepper or sliced limes. It is also served with pickled vegetables (green papaya, carrots, onion, kohlrabi).
Pho is the most popular Vietnamese dish that is there. It is a soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). Pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of flat rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef. Chicken pho is made using the same spices as beef, but the broth is made using chicken bones and meat, as well as some internal organs of the chicken. When eating at phở stalls in Vietnam, customers are generally asked which parts of the beef they would like and how they want it done.
Bánh cuốn is made from a thin, wide sheet of steamed fermented rice batter filled with a mixture of cooked seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and minced shallots. The rice rolls are glazed with scallion oil and are served on top of fresh sliced cucumbers, chopped lettuce, herbs, blanched bean sprouts, and Vietnamese sausage. All of this is served along with a side of Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Bánh canh is a thick traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. It is usually made from tapioca flour or a mixture of rice and tapioca flour. The term Bánh canh literally translates to “cake soup”. The “cake” is identified to be the thick sheet of raw dough from which the noodles are cut out.
Gỏi cuốn is a Vietnamese spring roll or cold roll. It is a Vietnamese dish that traditionally consists of pork, vegetables, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng. Over the years, the roll has been modified to suit and be relevant to modern tastes.
Bánh tôm is basically a shrimp and sweet potato fritter. These savory fritters have originated in Hanoi. Usually, they’re made with batons of sweet potato and with shrimp with the shell on. But many make it without the shell because the crunchy texture of the shell is a taste that you need to acquire.
Thap cam is a Vietnamese mixed sweet soup. A favourite of all ages, this soup is a perfect mix of various ingredients like peanuts, mung beans, sweet potato, agar agar, meat, coconut milk, and so on. Most of the times, these soups are served cold.
Bún riêu cua
Bún riêu cua is a traditional Vietnamese meat soup served with rice vermicelli. It served with tomato broth and topped with freshwater crab. Various freshwater paddy crabs are used, including the brown paddy crab which is found in rice paddies in Vietnam. The crabs in this dish are pounded with the shell into a paste.
Xoi (Sweet Sticky Rice)
It would be a tragedy to not have tried xoi during your stay in Vietnam. Xôi is basically a sweet or savoury glutinous rice dish that comes with various toppings of your choice. It is a popular breakfast item in Hanoi. It can be had with various toppings, from chicken and fried onions to coconut and sugar.
Chao suon sun
It means pork ribs & cartilage porridge. This porridge doesn’t have much in it, yet we can taste the sweet flavour of the pork broth that the porridge has been cooked in. And it is paired with the tastiest youtiao (fried dough fritters) and meat floss on top.
Vietnamese banh trang are edible rice paper wrappers. They are made from steamed rice batter, then sun-dried. The wrappers come in various textures, shapes and types. Textures can vary from thin, soft to thick. A variation of this is Bánh Tráng Trộn. It is a Vietnamese salad and is prepared with local ingredients, including dried beef jerky strips, julienned green mango, and the rice paper strips.
Bánh rán is a sweet deep-fried glutinous rice ball. Its outer shell is made from glutinous rice flour and covered with white sesame seeds. The filling is made using sweetened mung bean paste and it is scented with jasmine flower essence. Traditionally, the filling should be separated from the shell so that if one shakes the bánh rán, one can feel the filling rattle against the inside of the shell.
Cơm tấm, or broken rice, is a dish made from rice with broken rice grains. It is usually served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. The rice and meat are served with greens and pickled vegetables, along with a prawn cake, steamed egg, and grilled prawns.
Cha ca is crispy turmeric-marinated fish that’s fried at the table with heaps of dill and spring onion and served over rice noodles with peanuts and a dipping sauce. Usually made with snakehead, a freshwater fish found across Vietnam, cha ca is considered one of Hanoi’s signature dishes. The marinade, which is a mix of turmeric, garlic, shallots, galangal (similar to ginger root), salt, sugar and fish sauce, is the most important step.
Crispy Dumplings are a favourite Vietnamese dish during cold days. Its pretty baby pillow shape and its colorful sauce are quite intriguing. Like most cakes in Vietnam, Bánh Gối is not baked but deep-fried to create a charming yellow pastry skin, crispy and fragrant. This sweet-salty cake is also served with fresh herbs like coriander to reduce its oily taste and increase appetite.
Café Trung (Vietnamese Egg Coffee)
Egg coffee is a traditional Vietnamese drink which is usually made with egg yolk, condensed milk, sugar, and coffee. Hot or iced coffee is poured into the beaten eggs, which will form beautiful and aromatic foam. A teaspoon is given along with it so that one can eat the foam before drinking the coffee at the bottom. The cup is served inside a bowl of hot water to maintain its temperature.