With so much to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Listed below are some of the best foods to try in Hanoi that you just can't miss out on during your adventures in the country.
1. Pho (Noodle Soup)
This dish is perhaps the most iconic on the list. When it comes to Northern Vietnamese cuisine, nothing gets more authentic than Pho and its many varieties.
Pho begins with a succulent, savoury broth and fresh rice noodles. The noodles are springy and possess a texture that’s a mix between soft and a little chewy. You can pair the noodles with different slow-cooked meats such as beef or chicken or you can simply enjoy the noodles as they are.
It's complemented with a variety of extras, from spicy red peppers, fresh spring onions, bean sprouts, and more.
It's a joy to watch this beloved dish being prepared, but it's even more of a joy to eat. This is what makes it one of the top foods to try in Hanoi.
2. Bun Cha (Seared Pork and Noodles)
Bun Cha is another one of those dishes that are well-loved by the locals in Hanoi. Grilled pork that's been seared to perfection side-by-side with fresh rice noodles makes for a perfect pairing.
It only gets better when you add in the extra condiments such as the sweet brightness of papaya, the pops of spice from red chilli peppers, and a variety of supporting herbs. These flavours meld together so nicely and practically melt in your mouth.
Bun Cha is a no-nonsense dish that will leave you wanting seconds. And thirds.
3. Cha Ca (Seared Fish with Turmeric)
Cha Ca is so loved by Hanoi locals that there is even an entire street named in its honour. That just goes to show you why it's definitely one of the top foods to try in Hanoi.
Anytime you have seafood in Vietnam, you're in for a treat. And with Cha Ca, that fresh brine flavour has been amplified a hundredfold.
The fish used for this dish is often a mudfish or even a snakehead fish. It's seared together with a bunch of different spices and herbs, including turmeric and dill. It's then paired together with a beautiful broth, some fresh noodles, and a side of roasted peanuts.
The buttery flavour of the grilled fish is a match made in heaven when combined with the broth and the noodles
4. Nem Cua Be (Crab In Spring Rolls)
These fried packets of crabby goodness are the perfect complement to many different dishes but can stand all on their own if you prefer to indulge in their crispy flavours. Most often they are served as an appetizer or a side, but we won't judge if you ask for another round.
The fried dough is stuffed full of juicy crab meat and vermicelli noodles. As soon as you take that first bite, you'll know you're in for something special. The texture of the crispy dough goes perfectly with the succulent crab meat.
The non-fried variety of these crab spring rolls is just as good, however, for travellers who prefer a healthier option.
5. Banh Mi (Vietnamese-Style Sandwich)
While reading this list, you may not think that a sandwich of all things would make the top five, and baguettes may not be the first thing that jumps to your mind when thinking about Vietnam.
However, this Vietnamese-style sandwich is such a beautiful mix of flavours and textures that it just has to be on the list. The best part is that you can easily find this special sandwich from street vendors all over Hanoi.
It starts with a freshly-baked baguette, crispy on the outside but soft and airy on the inside. The fillings can change depending on the particular recipe of the restaurant or vendor. Typical varieties include salty cured ham, pate, grilled pork, slices of fresh cucumber and crispy radish, as well as generous amounts of aromatic herbs.
Together, all of these fillings give you an experience of flavours and textures that you can't find anywhere else.
6. Xoi Xeo (Sticky Sweet Rice)
Despite the word 'sweet' being included in the translation, Xoi Xeo can be served as both a savoury dish and a dessert. It's classically served with a green bean paste, shallots, and soy sauce.
For an even more savoury and filling variety, you can have it topped with ham, chicken, pate, pork belly, or even boiled eggs. If you prefer to have it as a dessert, you can have the Xoi Xeo paired with crystallized sugar, sesame seeds, or coconut shavings.
The versatility of this dish is amazing and is why its one of the top foods to try in Hanoi. With such variety to choose from, you could have Xoi Xeo several times and never have quite the same experience twice.
7. Che (Dessert-Style Soup)
Another street vendor favourite, this is the perfect way to end your meal. It's a sweet soup that can include a large variety of different ingredients to match your preferences. It's often given to you in a beer mug, which is a fun way to be served soup.
You'll start with a sweet soup base, and then you'll be able to choose what you'd like to be added. Tapioca, corn, mung beans, jelly, black beans, and many other ingredients will be available to choose from. Each pair beautifully with the sweetness of the soup.
As an added luxury, Che is often warmed during cooler nights but is served with crushed ice during hot summer days, making it great comfort food both during cold or hot days.
With So Many Foods to Try in Hanoi, Your Adventure Never Ends
The ones listed above are some of the best foods to try in Hanoi, but there are hundreds of other things to try as well. From savoury to sweet, dinner to dessert. If something catches your interest, give it a go!
Don't let the opportunity pass you by. So much awaits you in Hanoi and it's all just waiting for you to experience it.
Before you go, make sure to check out the best way to have a great adventure while you're visiting in Asia!