Top 20 Best Food in Hanoi Old Quarter: A Culinary Journey

Hanoi Old Quarter is a vibrant and bustling district known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and, of course, its delicious food. This charming neighborhood is a must-visit for any food lover, as it offers a wide variety of dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. From street food stalls to upscale restaurants, Hanoi Old Quarter has something for everyone. In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey through the top 20 best food in Hanoi Old Quarter that you must try.

Best food in Hanoi Old Quarter
Best food in Hanoi Old Quarter

Introduction

Hanoi Old Quarter, also known as “36 Streets,” is the oldest part of Hanoi and has been a trading hub since the 11th century. The streets are named after the goods that were sold there, such as silk, silver, and herbs. Today, these streets are lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, offering a glimpse into the city’s past. But the real charm of Hanoi Old Quarter lies in its food. The neighborhood is a foodie’s paradise, with an endless array of dishes to choose from. So let’s dive into the top 20 best food in Hanoi Old Quarter.

Top 20 Best Food in Hanoi Old Quarter

  1. Pho Bo: Hanoi’s Soul Food

Pho Bo
Pho Bo

Discover Hanoi’s iconic dish, Pho Bo, a steaming bowl of beef noodle soup that exemplifies the city’s culinary heritage. Savor the rich broth, simmered for hours with beef bones, creating a symphony of flavors that dances on your palate. Tender slices of beef, chewy rice noodles, and a garnish of aromatic herbs elevate this dish to a level of pure culinary bliss. Explore the many variations of Pho Bo, including Pho Tai (rare beef), Pho Chin (well-done beef) Read details Top 10 best pho Hanoi Old Quarter

  1. Pho Ga: A Lighter Delight

Pho Ga
Pho Ga

Indulge in the delicate flavors of Pho Ga, a chicken noodle soup that offers a lighter yet equally satisfying alternative to Pho Bo. Sip on the golden broth, infused with the natural sweetness of chicken and enhanced by fragrant spices. Tender chicken pieces, silky rice noodles, and a sprinkle of scallions create a harmonious balance of flavors. Experience the comforting warmth of Pho Ga, perfect for a chilly evening or a soothing pick-me-up.

  1. Pho Cuon: Rice Paper Rolls

Pho Cuon
Pho Cuon

Discover Pho Cuon, a refreshing take on traditional Pho, where rice paper rolls replace noodles as the star of the dish. Translucent rice paper wrappers encase a symphony of flavors, including tender beef slices, crisp vegetables, and aromatic herbs. Dip each roll into a flavorful dipping sauce, a harmonious blend of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili, for an explosion of taste. Enjoy Pho Cuon as a light snack or as a delightful starter to your culinary adventure in the Old Quarter.

  1. Bun Cha Hanoi: A Grilled Pork Symphony

Bun Cha Hanoi
Bun Cha Hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi, a dish that gained international fame after being featured on the late Anthony Bourdain’s show, is a charcoal-grilled masterpiece that embodies the essence of Hanoi cuisine. The dish consists of succulent grilled pork patties, marinated in a special blend of spices and herbs, served alongside a bowl of vermicelli rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce. To experience Bun Cha like a local, head to one of the many street stalls or small restaurants in the Old Quarter. Be prepared to wait in line, as these establishments are often packed with locals and tourists alike.

  1. Cha Ca: A Delicacy from the Red River

Cha Ca
Cha Ca

Chả Cá, a unique fish dish originating in the Red River Delta region, holds a special place in Hanoi’s culinary heritage. The dish features delicate pieces of snakehead fish, carefully selected for their freshness and quality, marinated in a flavorful blend of turmeric and dill, and grilled over hot coals. Accompanying the fish are rice vermicelli noodles, peanuts, fried tofu, and a special dipping sauce made with fish sauce, chili, and scallions. Chả Cá requires culinary expertise to achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Master chefs pass down their skills from generation to generation, ensuring the authenticity of this beloved dish.

  1. Cha Ca La Vong: Hanoi’s Signature Fish Dish

Cha Ca La Vong
Cha Ca La Vong

Experience the unique flavors of Cha ca La Vong, Hanoi’s signature fish dish, where grilled turmeric fish takes center stage. Savor the tender, flaky flesh of the fish, infused with the vibrant flavors of turmeric and grilled to perfection. Accompany the fish with a flavorful dipping sauce, a blend of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, chili, and dill, that enhances the natural sweetness of the fish.      Enjoy Cha ca La Vong with a side of fresh rice noodles, crispy fried onions, and a variety of aromatic herbs, creating a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Bun Thang: A Refreshing Summer Delight

Bun Thang
Bun Thang

Quench your thirst and satisfy your taste buds with Bun Thang, a refreshing summer dish that combines rice vermicelli noodles with a flavorful broth. Sip on the delicate broth, infused with the subtle flavors of chicken, pork, and shrimp, creating a harmonious balance of tastes. Enjoy the chewy texture of the rice vermicelli noodles, accompanied by tender slices of chicken, pork, and shrimp, and a garnish of fresh herbs. Experience the lightness and freshness of Bun Thang, a perfect dish for a hot summer day in Hanoi.

  1. Bun Rieu Cua: Crab Noodles

Bun Rieu Cua
Bun Rieu Cua

Bun Rieu Cua, a tangy and flavorful soup, is considered a Hanoi specialty, adored by locals and visitors alike. The soup’s rich broth is made from tomatoes, crab stock, and a secret blend of spices, resulting in a tantalizing harmony of flavors. It is topped with generous portions of crab meat, fried tofu, and rice vermicelli noodles, creating a symphony of textures and flavors.

Accompany your Bun Rieu Cua with a variety of fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and basil, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience. Bun Rieu Cua is a quintessential street food in Hanoi, with vendors setting up their stalls in various corners of the city, serving up steaming bowls of this delicious soup.

  1. Bun Ca: Noodle Soup with Fish

Bun Ca
Bun Ca

Embark on a culinary journey with Bun Ca, a traditional noodle soup that showcases the delicate flavors of freshwater fish. Savor the sweet and savory broth, infused with the natural flavors of fish and enhanced by fragrant spices. Enjoy the tender, flaky fish, perfectly cooked and paired with chewy rice noodles, creating a harmonious balance of textures. Accompany your Bun Ca with a variety of fresh herbs, such as dill, cilantro, and basil, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Bun Oc: Snail Noodle Soup

Bun Oc
Bun Oc

Discover the unique flavors of Bun Oc, a snail noodle soup that offers a taste of Hanoi’s street food culture. Savor the rich, flavorful broth, infused with the essence of snails and enhanced by fragrant spices. Enjoy the tender, chewy texture of the snails, perfectly cooked and paired with chewy rice noodles, creating a harmonious balance of textures. Accompany your Bun Oc with a variety of fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and basil, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Nem Cua Be: Fried Crab Spring Rolls

Nem Cua Be
Nem Cua Be

Nem Cua Be, a specialty from the coastal regions of Vietnam, has become a beloved dish in Hanoi, offering a taste of the sea in the heart of the city. These crispy spring rolls are filled with a generous portion of fresh crab meat, seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic filling.  Nem Cua Be is traditionally served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, and chili, adding an extra layer of flavor and tanginess. Nem Cua Be is a popular street food in Hanoi, with vendors frying these golden-brown spring rolls to perfection, creating a tantalizing aroma that draws in hungry crowds.

  1. Mien Xao Luon: Glass Noodles With Eel

Mien Xao Luon
Mien Xao Luon

Experience the unique flavors of Mien Xao Luon, a dish that combines glass noodles with eel, creating a harmonious balance of flavors and textures. Savor the rich, flavorful sauce, infused with the essence of eel and enhanced by fragrant spices. Enjoy the tender, chewy texture of the eel, perfectly cooked and paired with glass noodles, creating a harmonious balance of textures. Accompany your Mien Xao Luon with a variety of fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and basil, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Banh Xeo: Crispy Rice Pancakes

Banh Xeo
Banh Xeo

Indulge in the crispy delight of Banh Xeo, a traditional Vietnamese crepe that offers a satisfying crunch and a burst of flavor. Savor the crispy exterior, made with a batter of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk, that encases a flavorful filling of pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Accompany your Banh Xeo with a variety of dipping sauces, such as fish sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or hoisin sauce, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Banh Cuon: Steamed Rice Paper Rolls

Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon

Discover the delicate flavors of Banh Cuon, a traditional Vietnamese dish that showcases the artistry of steamed rice paper rolls. Savor the soft, chewy texture of the rice paper wrappers, filled with a savory mixture of pork, mushrooms, and wood ear mushrooms. Accompany your Banh Cuon with a variety of dipping sauces, such as fish sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or hoisin sauce, to enhance the flavors and create a truly immersive culinary experience.

  1. Xoi (Sticky Rice)

Xoi
Xoi

Xoi is a type of sticky rice that is often served with sweet or savory toppings. It is a popular breakfast dish in Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam. The rice is soaked, steamed, and then mixed with different ingredients such as mung beans, peanuts, or coconut milk. It can be eaten on its own or paired with other dishes such as grilled pork or fried eggs. Xoi is a simple yet delicious dish that will keep you full and satisfied.

  1. Banh Mi (Bread)

Banh Mi
Banh Mi

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has gained popularity all over the world. It is made with a crispy baguette filled with various ingredients such as pâté, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, and herbs. The combination of flavors and textures in this sandwich is what makes it so special. You can find Banh Mi Hanoi at many street food stalls in Hanoi Old Quarter, and it is a perfect snack to grab on the go.

  1. Com Lang Vong

Com Lang Vong
Com Lang Vong

Com Lang Vong is a well-known culinary specialty of Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi. It originated from Vong village, also known as Hau village, which is now located in Dich Vong Hau ward, Cau Giay district, Hanoi.

According to legend, Com Vong village was first made during a difficult time when the rice fields were flooded and the villagers had to roast young rice flowers to survive. This accidental creation turned out to be delicious and became a tradition in Vong village during autumn.

The process of making Com Vong village has been refined over time, resulting in thinner, greener, and more fragrant rice kernels. It has become a popular gift and delicacy, even being praised by King Ly dynasty in the 11th century.

Although Com is produced in many places, only Com Vong village is considered the most delicious and elegant. The villagers have their own secret method of making it, using Sua flower and the autumn breeze to create a unique flavor. Com Lang Vong has become a symbol of Hanoi’s romantic autumn and is deeply ingrained in the culture of its people.

  1. Banh Tom Ho Tay (West Lake shrimp cakes)

Banh Tom Ho Tay
Banh Tom Ho Tay

Banh Tom Ho Tay, also known as shrimp cakes, are a popular dish in Hanoi Old Quarter. They are made with minced shrimp, pork, and spices, formed into patties and deep-fried until crispy. The cakes are then served with fresh herbs, lettuce, and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Banh Tom Ho Tay is a perfect snack to share with friends while sipping on a cold beer.

  1. Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee)

Ca Phe Trung
Ca Phe Trung

For those who have a fondness for egg coffee, the name Giang coffee shop is sure to ring a bell. Located in Hanoi’s old town, this famous coffee shop is renowned for its unique and delicious egg coffee. It was here that Mr. Giang, the founder of the coffee shop, first created this drink that has become synonymous with the flavors of Hanoi cuisine. As a former barista at Metropole Hanoi Hotel, he used his expertise to transform a cappuccino recipe into the now beloved egg coffee.

Although egg coffee can now be found in many cafes, Giang coffee shop remains a top choice for visitors. In fact, CNN recently included egg coffee on their list of must-try dishes in Hanoi. So, if you’re looking to experience the true taste of Hanoi, be sure to stop by Giang coffee shop and indulge in their famous egg coffee.

  1. Trang Tien Ice Cream: A Hanoi Classic

Trang Tien Ice Cream
Trang Tien Ice Cream

Trang Tien Ice Cream, a legendary establishment in Hanoi, has been serving up delicious ice cream and desserts since the 1950s, becoming a beloved institution among locals and tourists alike. Their ice cream is made with fresh milk and natural ingredients, resulting in a creamy and flavorful treat that has stood the test of time.

Trang Tien Ice Cream offers a variety of signature flavors such as green bean, coconut, and coffee, each offering a unique and refreshing taste of Vietnam. Visiting Trang Tien Ice Cream is not just about enjoying delicious desserts but also immersing yourself in a nostalgic atmosphere that transports you back in time.

FAQs

  1. What is the best time to visit Hanoi Old Quarter?

The best time to visit Hanoi Old Quarter is from September to November or from March to April when the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists.

  1. Is it safe to eat street food in Hanoi Old Quarter?

Yes, it is safe to eat street food in Hanoi Old Quarter. Just make sure to choose a busy stall with a high turnover of food and follow your instincts.

  1. What is the currency used in Hanoi?

The currency used in Hanoi is Vietnamese Dong (VND). However, US dollars are also widely accepted in tourist areas.

  1. What is the best way to get around Hanoi Old Quarter?

The best way to get around Hanoi Old Quarter is on foot or by using a bicycle or motorbike. Taxis and ride-hailing services are also available.

  1. Is it customary to tip in Hanoi?

Tipping is not expected in Hanoi, but it is appreciated for exceptional service. A small amount of 10-15% is usually sufficient.

  1.  What are the must-try street food dishes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter? 

Pho Bo, Pho Ga, Pho Cuon, Bun Cha, and Cha ca La Vong are among the must-try street food dishes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

  1.  What is the best time to visit the Old Quarter for street food?

The best time to visit the Old Quarter for street food is in the evening, around 6-9 p.m., when most vendors set up their stalls.

  1. How can I ensure the safety of the street food I eat in the Old Quarter? 

Choose vendors that have a lot of customers, as this indicates that their food is fresh and popular. Also, be cautious about eating raw or undercooked foods.

  1. Where can I find the best Pho Bo in the Old Quarter?

Some highly-recommended places for Pho Bo in the Old Quarter include Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su, Pho Bat Dan, and Pho Ha.

  1. Can I find vegetarian or vegan street food options in the Old Quarter? 

Yes, there are several vegetarian and vegan street food options available in the Old Quarter. Look for dishes such as Banh Xeo chay (vegetarian crispy rice pancakes) or Bun Chay (vegetarian grilled pork with rice vermicelli).

Conclusion

Hanoi Old Quarter is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of dishes that will satisfy any craving. From traditional street food to upscale restaurants, this charming neighborhood has something for everyone. So if you’re planning a trip to Hanoi, make sure to add these top 20 best food in Hanoi Old Quarter to your must-try list. Trust us; your taste buds will thank you.