Hanoi is a food heaven if you are a food lover. It provides you with the opportunity to spend at least 10 days eating your way through the city without having the same meal twice. Same with the number of great restaurants and street food stalls. You can eat the best food, more often than not, on the street.
Vietnamese street food differs per region. Food in each region carries its own distinctive and unique characteristics. For example fewer spices are used in northern Vietnam, as it is has a colder climate. This limits the production of certain spices. You also see more Chinese influences here and the food is milder and less spicy then the food in the South of Vietnam.
In the South the climate is more tropical which results in more fruits and vegetables. In the south people use more garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs to season their dishes. Besides the food being spicier it is also sweeter as they grow sugarcane in abundance.
When I travel I never want to miss out the best places to eat, as I just love food. If you are like me, what better way to explore a city like Hanoi than by its food? There are some great street food tours, but below I already have selected the best café’s, restaurants and Hanoi street food.
Most Outstanding Café’s Hanoi
Vietnam is famous for its excellent coffee so when in Vietnam a cup of this brown liquid should definitely be on your list. Hanoi offers a great bunch of coffee shops that even makes it difficult to choose from. We have selected some of the best café’s in Hanoi.
1. Experience your coffee in a new way
If you love coffee or even if you don’t you definitely should try Egg coffee when in Hanoi. The combination sounds quite weird right, but I can tell you even if you don’t love coffee this one you will love for sure. As you know coffee is a big thing in Vietnam and this takes it to a whole new level! Egg coffee is a combination of condensed milk, sugar, egg yolks and coffee (off course). Giang Café at No.106 Yen Phu Street (West Lake) or at No.39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street (near the Old Quarter) is one of the famous places to try this delicious treat.
2. Cong Caphe – great little coffee shop
Cong Caphe is a great little coffee shop with a real socialist feel as the menu is handwritten in a hardback Lenin book for example! This is place is fest for Nau Da (iced milk coffee), Den Nong (hot black), Sua Chua (coffee with yoghurt), Cot Dua (with frozen coconut) or the ‘traditional’ Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (hot or cold). Their Sinh To or Sua Chua (smoothies) are some of the best in Hanoi also.
3. The Note Coffee Shop
The Note Coffee shop is a cute little café at 64 Luong Van Can street. There are thousands of little love notes stuck on the wall. They serve some delicious coconut coffees and iced coffees. All the coffees are superb and they even have good Wi-Fi.
4. Cafe Pho Co
Café Pho Co is Hanoi’s oldest café and it is well hidden on 11, Hang Gai street. It offers a large variety of different coffee blends. Besides its excellent coffee it also provides you with a wonderful view on Hoan Kiem Lake. You need to do some effort to get to this hidden gem, as you have to enter through a silk shop and then take some steep staircases at the end of the ground floor.
Best Restaurants Hanoi
Hanoi boost with great restaurants, from simple street food stalls to high end restaurants and from local Vietnamese cuisine to any international cuisine imaginable. Here are some of my picks.
1. Mau Dich 37
Mau Dich is a great little restaurant in Truc Bach, with traditional Vietnamese food and service from during the war. When you arrive you receive food vouchers (like you did in the war). They serve things like over cooked rice- a dish that was created as a result of being resourceful with rice that was stuck to the bottom of the pan! Although this might not sound attractive the food is delicious and it is quite an experience.
2. Hung Snake Restaurant
Ok, you might think, this is not my cup of tea, but serious it is a truly one of a kind experience that even within Vietnam is difficult to find. Visit Hung Snake restaurant in Le Mat snake village just outside Hanoi. The hospitality is top notch and the food seriously tasty. The owner will tell you exactly how it is prepared.
Zenith is located at 16 Duong Thanh St, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. It is part of a yoga studio where they serve some delicious vegetarian, organic salads and sandwiches with fresh ingredients. It is a welcome change from Vietnamese!
4. Bahn Mi 25
You can’t visit Vietnam without trying its famous Bahn Mi. The little shack Bahn Mi 25 serves one of the best ones in town! It is just a simple place with some tables and chairs. The owners are super friendly and this in combination with the fresh ingredients they use and free iced-tea and bananas they serve makes it one of the best places to try. Their sandwiches are hard to beat.
5. Kem Trang Tien
Kem Tran Tien is not a restaurant, but one of the places in town that serve delicious ice cream. They are well known for their sticky rice and coconut ice cream served in a delicious crisp waffle cone. It is a very popular spot among locals. 35, Trang Ti_n Street.
Best Hanoi Street Food To Try
The great thing about Hanoi and Vietnam in general is that you don’t have to go to high-end restaurants to have a delicious meal. Often the most simplest shacks serve the most amazing food and then also for a very low price.
1. Some of the best chicken in town
If you like chicken then you have to visit BBQ Chicken Street. As the name suggest you can find delicious chicken wings, thighs & claws, all on one street! You can find it at Cát Linh Đống Đa, 10 Lý Văn Phúc, Cát Linh.
2. Bun Nem (spring rolls)
I know spring rolls aren’t the most exclusive food you can find in Vietnam, but you have to admit that they are delicious, right? Especially in Vietnam they are outstanding. Spring rolls in Hanoi are made with pork, prawns, vegetables, and vermicelli wrapped in thin rice paper, which crisps up really flakey and crunchy. Dip it in some fish sauce and enjoy!
3. Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
Banh Mi is one of the best results of the French occupation. There are many varieties of Banh Mi. In general it is a fluffy baguette stuffed with fried either egg, pork, pate, chicken and topped with cucumber slices, carrots, coriander and daikon. In Hanoi, this sandwich is finished with some hot sauce, slices chilies and mayonnaise. One of the best are served at Bahn Mi 25, 25 Hang Ca Street, Old quarter
4. Bun Cha (pork and vermicelli)
This local dish is a combination of pork and noodles. It is served with some pork, onion and mushroom. Dress it up with some red chilies, minced garlic, fresh herbs and dipping sauce. Yum! A great place for Bun Cha is Bun Cha Nem Cua Be, 29 Cau Go.
5. Cha Ca (fish fillet with turmeric and dill)
Cha Ca is one of the famous dishes of Hanoi. It consists of fresh fish fillets marinated in turmeric, fish sauce, shrimp paste, galangal, and topped of with dill. Especially the use of dill is quite exceptional in Asian cuisine, but the flavors work out really well.
6. Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon is an Hanoi street food dish that consists of steamed rice pancakes filled with pork mince mushrooms and topped with fried shallots, lime and fresh herbs. One of the best places to try this Vietnamese street food dish is a small street kitchen at 14 Hang Ga Street.
For more Vietnamese street food see our earlier post Top 5 Vietnamese Street Food Dishes You Must Try.
Another great way to explore Hanoi street food is either learning it to cook yourself by attaining a cooking class for example or exploring the best restaurants in Hanoi or its street food with a local during a street food tour.
As shown there are many great coffee shops, restaurant and street food places in Hanoi. There are so many that it is not possible to try all of them. With my list of best places to eat and what to eat I hope I have helped you to pick some places to try some amazing food in Hanoi.
I would love to hear if I missed out anything in the above article I should include. Leave me a comment, and let me know.