Hanoi Food Guide: Must Eat Food and Cafes in Hanoi
In most of my food travels – all the non stop food hunt tends to result in a significant weight gain but when I visited Vietnam for 2 weeks, I was surprised that there wasn’t any weight gain despite all the delicious Vietnamese food I’ve eaten. Vietnamese food in my opinion is pretty healthy and is packed with loads of nutrition. I’ve written a guide on where to find the best Pho in Vietnam but it’s about time I introduce the best food you can eat in the city of Hanoi as well as where to find the best cafes in Hanoi!
Where to stay?
If you are more into the Hanoi street food scene ~ the best places to stay would be somewhere around the Old Quarters area where most of the food in the post is within walking distance (between 5 to 30 minutes walk). Anywhere near the famous Hoan Kiem lake is fine as that is very central. I stayed at Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel when I was in Hanoi and the service was really good for the price I’ve paid. The safe bet is to book through reputable hotel booking sites and not direct through hotels unless you are sure these aren’t scam websites or hotels.
Hoan Kiem Lake (taken without tripod lol)
Be sure to print out your hotel’s address (in Vietnamese if possible) and whatever you do – do not take any other taxi other than Mai Linh or Vinasun at the airport. Flat out refuse to board any taxi no matter what they say to you or how tired you are. There are enough horror stories in travel forums and blogs to deter you. Even if there is a queue, let someone behind you take the taxi instead of getting into the taxi.
Image from http://cafef.vn/
I could not stress this enough – there are tons of taxi scams in Vietnam and no matter how desperate you are – do not get into any taxis UNLESS they are Vinasun and Mai Linh taxis. Be sure to also verify that they are not FAKE Vinasun or Mai Linh Taxis ~~ to only way to be sure is to check the spelling as well as the phone numbers written on every taxi. Vinasun 38 27 27 27 for example. There are so many horror stories of tourists who can’t find Vinasun or Mai Linh then end up in another taxi which have special meters that move at the speed of lightning and will try to scam as much money out of you so beware! Another alternative if you cannot find Vinasun or Mai Linh is to use Uber, which I used efficiently as I could pinpoint the location of the places I wish to go. I personally prefer Vinasun during my trip in Vietnam but Mai Linh is fine – I did not get scammed by taxi even once when I was in Vietnam because I follow these rules – so you don’t really need to worry.
In Vietnam, the 3g is generally cheap and should not cost you over $5 USD for a week with unlimited 3g data but mind you, the speed is not very fast when I visited. Generally you can get them at Hanoi airport and you can use these all around Vietnam, except for some rural areas. I personally recommend Viettel and Vinaphone for prepaid cards.
The famous bridge of Hoan Kiem Lake
Most of the older hotels use TYPE A sockets but the 4-5 star hotels should have the common Type G 3 pin socket. It’s encouraged to bring a universal socket adaptor whenever you travel in case you need to charge your equipment.
Where to eat? Now we’re talking!
Hanoi gets my vote for my favourite food city in Vietnam, ranging from street food to classy restaurants for wine and dine. Are you ready to explore the best places to eat in Hanoi with me? Let’s go!
Bun Bo Nam Bo (Grilled Beef Noodle Salad)
I was seriously surprised at how such a simple looking dish can be so delicious. In Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, we might be proud of our Kolok Mee or Wonton Mee, but this Bun Bo Nam Bo is refreshingly down to earth delicious!
It’s kinda like a salad or kolomee but not oily ~~ marinated beef, with herbs, peanuts and pickled radish/carrots tossed with rice vermicelli – I cannot stress how refreshing it taste! Be sure to give it a good mix before slurping up the rice vermicelli ~~
You can add more spicy chili sauce to suit your palate and have some Hanoi beer while enjoying this dish!
Look for this sign ~~ they are usually packed and you definitely will need to share tables with others.
Bun Bo Nam Bo
67 Hang Dieu
Old Quarters, Hanoi
Mien Luon (Eel served many ways)
Mien Luon is a restaurant that specializes in Eel dishes ~~ ranging from noodles to soups to porridge. If you love eel ~ this is a must eat place in Hanoi! This dish is called Mien Xao which is crispy fried eel with stir fried rice vermicelli ~~
If you want something more soupy ~~ this starchy eel soup called Sup Luon will entice you especially during winter
mmmm slices of eel with salad ~~ hubba hubba ~~
For my wife ~ her favourite is the porridge – so heartwarmingly good especially during winter!
87 Hàng Điếu, Old Quarter, Hanoi
Pho: Vietnam’s Iconic Dish
The Hanoi style of Pho is very different from Ho Chi Minh’s version. You will notice that they do not provide a lot of herbs and condiments on the side. It has a cleaner taste and is less sweeter than the Ho Chi Minh’s version. I personally prefer the Pho in Hanoi but it’s all a personal preference. What about you?
Pho Vui is an interesting place as it looks more like a butchery rather than a pho store. You can see lots of raw meat hanging there – and the boss slicing the beef while you are slurping your bowl of pho.
I sat right next to the action – watching the boss slicing the beef with his knife skills
Would you look at the size of that hunk of meat! *drools*
It’s quite a hearty portion of beef slices in this bowl of Pho and I quite enjoyed it.
There was an article online that rated Pho Vui quite low and criticized the consistency of the cuts of meats as well as hygiene but my personal experience is a positive one and I really enjoyed this bowl of pho. Enjoy at night with a nice glass of Hanoi Beer!
Pho Vui, 25 Hang Giay. Open at night
Pho Thin by the Hoan Kiem Lake
On my research – there’s two Pho Thin’s – one at Lo Duc which is quite far and another one jus by the Hoan Kiem Lake. Despite having the same name, they both serve different types of Pho – the one in Lo Duc street stir fries the beef first before adding to the rice noodles, then laden with broth, which gives it a very different taste to traditional Hanoi Pho. I prefer the one by Hoan Kiem lake which opens very early in the morning.
A very down to earth bowl of goodness. You can never fault Pho Thin’s gorgeous flavours and texture of the meat. This is my 2nd favourite Pho in the whole of Vietnam.
Pho Thin, 61 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem only opens in the morning.
Pho Gia Truyen
Imagine at 6am in the cold Hanoi winter morning, you walked towards the restaurant, hungry for pho and then you realize there’s about 20 more local Vietnamese having the same idea as you. It’s amazing to see such a long queue so early in the morning and its no surprise that many hailed this place as having the best pho in Vietnam.
Pots of delicious broth kept piping hot for the pho ~~ *drools*
The beef is freshly sliced and then added to your delicious pho!
This is in my opinion – the best Pho I’ve tasted in Vietnam. The soup has just the right amount of sweetness and the beef slices tender and delicious. If you visit Hanoi and failed to have a bowl of this pho – you’ve failed your trip in Hanoi and committed a serious #foodcrime! Die die also must wake up early just to eat this bowl of heaven! You hear me?!
Pho Gia Truyen, 49 Bat Dan, Hanoi – go there around 6am. They should close around 9am or earlier if they finished.
Bun Rieu (seafood tomato broth noodles)
Bun rieu is actually a soup noodle dish that is an alternative to Pho. The broth is usually made from seafood (crab or squid) and tomatoes – and served with rice vermicelli and fish cakes. More towards seafood flavour and has a slight sour tangy broth. Be sure to put more herbs into the soup to enhance your Bun Rieu
Bun Rieu Nam Bo Hang Bong 67
This version is the one that is cooked using squid, tomatoes, fish cakes and pork balls called Bun Rieu Nam Bo ~ when we arrived at Hang Bong 67 – the shop wasn’t there – but we managed to ask around for the new address and found it finally.
Naturally this is enjoyed with various herbs on the side ~~
Look out for this sign ~ took us some time to find it!
Bun Rieu Nam Bo previously 67 Hang Bong – They have a Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/so7phudoan/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE
7 Phu Doan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Bun Rieu Cua Hang Bac 11
This place is another famous place for Bun Rieu Cua which uses crab paste to make their crab broth ~~ recommended by many websites ~~ easy to find as well but make sure you go in the morning
It’s lovely to watch the lady scoop up the fragrant crab broth ~~ ahhh ~~
Enjoy with the given herbs ~~~
Bun Rieu, 11 Hangbac, Hanoi
Alternative Bun Rieu Cua Place
This Bun Rieu place was packed with locals when we walked past on the way to get to Gia Truyen Pho so we decided to hop in ~~
The soup for this Bun Rieu was quite good! It can rival the previous one. This one is also easier to find as well as it’s just next to Gia Truyen Pho so you get to eat two types of soup noodles in one street! How convenient!
Bun Rieu Stall, 48 Bat Dan next to Gia Truyen Pho
Banh Cuon Gia Truyen (Soft Rice Crepes with filling)
Banh Cuon is basically like our cheong fun or steamed rice crepes with fillings but the Vietnamese version is cut into smaller chunks and the dipping sauce is on the side ~~ and naturally more herbs for you to enjoy them with!
Regarded as a breakfast staple, banh cuon can be ordered with different fillings ranging from pork, chicken, shrimp or if you want to add egg or not ~~
This is the version with egg ~~
You can also order condiments on the side ~~ pretty yummy too ~~
To enjoy ~~ dip the banh cuon on the dipping sauce ~~ which seriously makes this super delicious! *note: picture from another banh cuon stall that I visited*
Banh Cuon Gia Truyen
14 Hang Ga, Old Quarters Hanoi ~ very near Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel
Cha Cha Thang Long (Turmeric and Dill Fish)
You know a dish is good when a foodie who has eaten a lot of other food decides to come back three times! Cha Cha Va Long is a grilled fish that is famous in Hanoi that a street is named after the dish!
Despite being invented originally by Cha Cha Va Long restaurant, I prefer to eat at Cha Cha Thang Long, which is 1/3 of the price and actually more delicious than the original!! Pan seared to perfection, moist fatty fish natural oils blend in together with the fresh herbs to create a wonderful fragrant aroma, then you enjoy them with rice vermicelli, peanuts, scallions and their special in house savoury sweet dressing! Ahhhhh delicious! FOODGASM!!
Cha Cha Thang Long
31 Duong Thanh Street, Old Quarter | Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam *note: their business is so good they actually have a few other branches on the same street!*
Banh Mi: The Baguette Sandwich of Vietnam
Hanoi Banh Mi is unique and not the same as Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh ~~ I personally tried quite a few and these 3 are the ones I would recommend. There’s also a popular type called Banh Mi Beef Steak which uses beef cooked with red wine but I haven’t gotten the chance to try them ~ maybe my next trip! For now, here are my 3 fav Banh My stalls.
Banh Mi 25
I was very surprised to see a simple banh mi stall earning rave reviews and was top in tripadvisor when I was doing my research. I gotta admit – their banh mi is pretty good – ranging from their specially sized baguette to their well balanced fillings – bahn my 25 is the usual barbecued pork, pate, pickled vegetables banh mi ~~ delicious!
Located at the streets along Old Quarters, the best part about this Banh Mi is that it’s only 20 000 VND ~~ OMG so cheap yet so delicious ~~
I like how they cut it into half for you if you are sharing! Bon Appetit!
Banh Mi 25
25 Hàng Cá, Hàng Đào
Banh Mi Lan Ong
Banh Mi Lan Ong is one of those type of food that looks so plain and dull to the point that you might be disappointed when you saw it ~~ and it doesn’t look instagrammable at all ~~ but once you sink your teeth on it ~~ OMG ~~~ SOOOOO SOOOO DELICIOUS ~~~~
Banh Mi Lan Ong’s secret is their home made pate ~~ made fresh every morning ~~ and the cool thing is that they don’t add any other meat ~~ just plain old fashioned pate with cucumbers and shallots or chili ~~ and you have one of the most foodgasmic banh mi ~~~ don’t let the look fool you ~~ it’s my favourite Banh Mi in Hanoi!
The best part is that this stall is located very near Banh Mi 25 – so you can try two of the best Hanoi Banh Mi’s in one go ~~ Spend less than $3 dollars and enjoy both ~~ truly deserving of the hashtag #cheapeats
Banh My Lan Ong
20 Chả Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm
Banh My Doner Kebab Anh Nguyen
This came as a surprise inclusion in my food list as something new in the Banh Mi Scene ~~~ I wasn’t planning to try this but I happened to walk past the stall and figured ~~ why not?
Doner Kebabs are pretty famous in Brunei and Malaysia so I’m curious to how this would taste ~
The flat bread and sliced meat combo is pretty good ~~ this might not be your conventional Vietnamese food but this is something delicious enough to try ~
Banh My Doner Kebab Anh Nguyen
2 Hang Bac Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim (Grilled Pork and Fried Crab Spring Rolls)
This restaurant serves two of the must try dishes in Hanoi ~~ Bun Cha (Vietnamese grilled pork) ~ and Nem Cua Be (Crab Spring Rolls)
While some have complained that the place is expensive and they rip off tourists ~~ I have to say the food is good and worth my money ~~ I enjoyed the meal very much.
You basically enjoyed the delicious grilled marinated pork with rice vermicelli. herbs and dipping sauce ~~ yum!
oooo the crab spring rolls ~~ ooooo yes ~~~ fry fry ~~
Crispy on the outside with pieces of crab inside ~~~ ooooh yeshhhh ~~
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim
67 Duong Thanh, Old Quarter, Hanoi (near Mien Luon)
Xoi Yen (Glutinous Sticky Rice with various toppings)
Xoi Yen is basically glutinous sticky rice served with various toppings. Apparently this is a very popular favourite of many tourists and locals when they visit Hanoi.
You can choose from different types of sticky rice ~ some with corn and some with fried shallots ~~ and then choose your topping ~
Then choose your side dish ranging from barbecued pork to beef ham ~~~ as well as my fav Pate ~~ the pickled cucumbers on the side adds crunch and acid to balance the meal ~~
It can be a pretty filling meal so if you plan to food hunt ~~ you might find that you will be full for a long time after eating this dish~~
35b Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Che Ngon 93 (Che means sweet dessert soup)
Che is basically a bowl of dessert – which is a similar to our tong sui and shaved ice desserts – often when you walk past a Che place ~~ you will find loads of people sitting on stools, hands holding a bowl of delicious che, slurping gleefully as the world passes by ~~
Oooh would you look at that ~ *drools*
I went for some basil seeds and jelly ~~ while my wife enjoys some black glutinous rice che ~~
There’s quite a few Che places if you are walking around Hanoi so you don’t necessarily need to visit this one ~~
Che Ngon Huong Hai 93
93 Hang Bac Road, Hoam Kiem, Hanoi
Banh Goi (Chicken Pastry)
Along the streets of Ly Quoc Su, you might come across carts like these selling fried fritters ~~ you must give some of these a try especially Banh Gio ~~
It’s a pastry filled with chicken and glass noodles ~~ piping hot and delicious ~~
Oooo sooo good ~~
Banh Gio stall
52 Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi
Quan An Ngon: An easy one stop place for Vietnamese Cuisine
Quan An Ngon might not be street food but it is the most convenient one stop place to have Vietnamese food from around the region and in a comfortable setting.
They have a few braches but we went to the one at Royal City (a shopping mall) ~
They show you the most famous dishes to try in Vietnam ~~
While the food quality from Quan An Ngon might not be as fantastic as the one’s you find in the streets, they say if you are pushed for time and you want to try as many Vietnamese cuisine as possible ~ Quan An Ngon is your best bet!
Quan An Ngon (You can go to any of the 3 branches listed below)
18 Phan Bội Châu, Cửa Nam
B2, Thượng Đình, Hạ Đình, Thanh Xuân, Hà Nội, Vietnam (Royal City Branch)
34 Phan Đình Phùng, Quán Thánh, Ba Dinh District, Hà Nội,
Mid Range Wine and Dine Comfortable Restaurants
Here are some restaurants that are more comfortable and you can actually dress up, have wine and dine. I’ve dined in a few but they are pretty disappointing. Here aree my favourite and highly recommended.
Madame Hien is a French Vietnamese restaurant, set in a 19th-century villa, and us a tribute to their French chef Didier Corlu’s Vietnamese grandmother. This is a great place to wine and dine indulging in good Vietnamese food with a hint of French influence. A great place for you to dress up, have wine and enjoy a good dinner with someone special. Now would you look at that lovely duck!
The dishes are beautifully presented and of course delicious ~~
One interesting must try is their version of Foie Gras Pho, which is pretty unique and delicious. It’s around 178,000 vnd ++ so one bowl can easily get you five bowls of pho elsewhere but that is around 10-12 sgd for a gourmet style of Pho you probably won’t get anywhere else!
Coupled with gorgeous ambience throughout the restaurant ~~ you should visit Madame Hien one night for a more classy wine and dine session ~~
They say wine keeps the women happy ~~
Madame Hien Restaurant
15 Cham Cam, Hanoi
Green Tangerine is another fancy place – a French colonial house turned into a restaurant – serving French Fusion food.
Food here is beautifully presented and more towards a Western cuisine ~~
Gorgeous presentation and the food is pretty good ~~ a break from all the Vietnamese food ~~
Pop by here if you want to a place for Western Fusion cuisine with great ambience ~~
48 Hang Be, Hanoi
Must Visit Cafes in Hanoi
Another fun part of food travel is cafe hopping ~ while Hanoi has plenty of cafes and coffee shops ~ we have a limited time to try them ~~ so here are some of the must visit cafes if you are in Hanoi!
Pho Co Cafe / Ca Phe Pho Co
Cafe Pho Co is one of the most difficult cafe for me to find in Vietnam as it is quite hidden. To go in ~ you need to pass through a souvenir shop ~~ thankfully I managed to track it using the street number and narrow it down ~~ When you see this yellow sign ~ you have found Pho Co ~~ Pho Co gives you a good view of Hoan Kiem Lake as well as the Hanoi traffic! The coffee here is decent but I guess the hipster factor of this place is the main attraction.
You will walk into alleyways to get to the cafe ~~
Seriously confused as we walked in ~~ this looks more like someone’s house rather than a cafe ~~
You can’t help but admire these cultural trinkets all over the place ~~ ahhh such an instagrammable place ~~
You need to place your order first before going up the stairs – there are many different places to sit but most who want the view will go upstairs and sit on the aluminium chairs ~~ with lots of trash on the floor~~ lol but that’s how it is~
The staircase is very rustic indeed ~~~ go up up up ~~
One of the floors ~ but this is not the top ~~
Finally at the top ~~~ and you notice it’s pretty hazy winter night ~~
Without a proper tripod I wasn’t able to capture the night view of Hoan Kiem Lake ~~ this is the best I could do with my hands ~
A top view of the stairs ~~
Quite a few of these narrow walkways ~~ which might be good for OOTD shots ~
Remember to say hi to their family pet ~~ hee hee ~~
Ca Phe Pho Co
11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm
Giang Cafe is a legendary cafe for introducing the famous Trung Coffee (Egg Coffee) which actually tastes like liquid tiramisu ~~
The seats are very cool as well ~~~ you basically squat on the chairs and the short tables ~~
Copied all over the world but I have to say Giang’s original Coffee Trung is simply delicious ~~~
Remember to do the famous Egg Stache from the Egg Coffee ~~~
39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm
Duy Tri Cafe
Duy Tri has been around since 1936 and is famous for Yoghurt Coffee ~~ but stopping by here is a trip to the past with it’s very antique feel to the cafe.
The nostalgic hipster factor of this cafe is off the charts and the yoghurt coffee simply delicious ~~ this place is a little bit out of the way and you need to take a taxi to get here.
Cafe Duy Tri
43 Yen Phu | Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Sipping traditional Vietnamese Coffee with the locals? Pop by Cafe Lam where it has a long history and you can admire the paintings said to be from past customers.
Cafe Lam is one of those old school cafes you should check out ~
60 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi
A visit to Cong Caphe is a must when visiting Hanoi. Their militaristic theme cafe is really cool especially if you see the decor and their cute waitresses in army coloured overalls.
The Coconut Ice Cream coffee is to die for! Thanks fellow food writer @chertiu for the intro to this place!
101 Hoang Cau Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
The Hanoi Social Club
A great place for breakfast and coffee ~~ Hanoi Social Club brings the Melbourne style coffee culture to Vietnam ~~the coffee is spot on here!
Cosy with plenty of hipster wall art ~~ with 2 floors ~~ there’s quite a lot to soak in ~
My wife Mary enjoying the ambience ~~
Wall art ~ books ~~ ahhh ~~~ so hipster ~~~
Sit upstairs if you prefer outdoor setting ~~
Love their entrance and logo ~~~ note that they have events here often and they serve quite a progressive food menu here ~~
The Hanoi Social Club
6 Ngõ Hội Vũ, Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm
Puku Cafe and Sports Bar
With just 5 minutes walk from Hanoi train station and being open for 24 hours ~ PUKU is a great place to chill, have coffee or eat ~~ with good Wifi around the clocks. It is especially strategic place to go before or after your SAPA trips which depart and arrive through Hanoi train station.
We came in the morning and it was pretty empty ~~ perhaps the busiest time is usually at night where there are live matches shown on the big screen tv
PUKU is very spacious and I have to say I like the ambience here too ~~
Coffee and drinks are decent here ~ so it’s quite a great place to check out if you’re in Hanoi.
Puku Cafe and Sports Bar
16 Tống Duy Tân, Cửa Nam, Hoàn Kiếm
Lutu Lata is a che place but set it a more hipster cafe like setting ~~ it’s based on a three floor place in Old Quarter and has a pretty oriental retro feel to it.
Che, Coffee or Me~~~? Hee hee ~~
Mmmm Soy Tao Fu Fa and Grass Jelly ~~~
Lutu Lata Special Che ~~~~ There’s quite a lot happening in this bowl of che goodness and it’s pretty~~ INSTAGRAM TIME!
I seriously loved the ambiance of Lutu Lata ~~
The top floor is pretty popular with young locals ~~
This is the view from where we were sitting ~~ ahhh ~~~
This has been one of the revelation dessert for me ~~ it’s called Banh Bông Lan trung muoi ~ a soft cake with salted yolk and chicken floss ~~ genius and sooo delicious ~~ now can anyone teach me how to make this?!
39 Hang Cot Street, Hoan Kiem District
Experience Hanoi Street Culture at the Bia Hoi Corner ~~
The Hanoi culture is pretty interesting. They like to sit by the sidewalk to drink coffee, beer or tea with snacks. It is indeed fun to mix in with people from all walks of life sitting on very short chairs by the sidewalk to enjoy a glass of ca phe or bia hoi, which is home brewed beer. Ahhh such is life.
It can be pretty packed especially at night ~~ a good place to sit down and chill with some Larue beer and watch as people of all ages walk by ~~ or scoot by ~~
Sit back, relax and enjoy the beer ~~
An easy landmark to find this street is to google map Green Pepper Beer Corner and you will find this area ~~ any restaurant will do ~~ order some snacks, beer or coffee and you are all set to squeeze in with locals and tourists to chillax ~~
Green Pepper Beer Corner
27 Tạ Hiện (Lương Ngọc Quyến) Hoàn Kiếm
We’ve come to the end of this food guide and I will leave you with a picture of the puppeteers of the famous water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi which entertained us greatly. I hope this guide is useful for you and I am sure there will be some great places to eat and cafes I’ve missed! Please do share this article if you find it very useful for your Hanoi trip!
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