Hanoi cuisine is considered as the representative of cuisine in the north of Vietnam. The sophistication of Hanoi culinary is in how to prepare and enjoy. Each of Hanoi’s dishes has its own taste, beauty and especially, has the traditional way to enjoy. Hanoi’s dishes did please the Hanoian expatriates and tourists those who first came to Hanoi.
There are many cuisines that visitors should not miss to taste when visiting Hanoi:
1. Pho (Phở – Vietnamese noodle)
No matter what time day or night, a steaming bowl of pho noodle soup is never hard to find in Vietnam. Pho is Vietnam’s unofficial national dish exported with pride all over the world. If any visitor, especially international visitors, is asked that what cuisines of Hanoi that they remember the most, the answer would be “Pho”. Pho is also listed in “the world’s 50 most delicious foods” according to CNN.
Pho consists of flat rice noodles in a light, meat-based broth. The dish is usually accompanied by basil, lime, chili, and other extras on the side so that eaters can season the soup to their own taste. The balanced tastes of sweet, salty, spicy, and citrus are highly contagious; pho usually becomes an instant favorite for anyone visiting Vietnam.
There are many famous Pho restaurants in Hanoi, such as:
– Suonng Restaurant in Trung Yen alley, Dinh Liet Street
– Ly Quoc Su Restaurant – Nha Chung Street
– Thin Restaurant – Lo Duc Street
– Bat Dan Restaurant – Bat Dan Street (customers have to queue up, wait for their turn to eat)
2. Bun Cha (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat)
Like pho, bun cha is one of the typical dishes of Hanoi. Bun cha presents throughout all streets, markets, even in the deep lane. Hanoi’s bun cha is now available in many provinces and cities in Vietnam. Among Hanoi’s juice cuisines, bun cha fits the taste of visitors from everywhere.
Slices of pork are soaked with spices and grilled on live coals, then put in sweet and sour sauce and be tasted with vermicelli and raw vegetables. It is completely delicious. However, Hanoi’s bun cha is more special because it has hung lang, a speciality herb of Lang village, Hanoi.
You can eat Bun Cha at some following restaurants:
– Bun Cha Hang Manh – Hang Manh Street
– Bun Cha Sinh Tu – Nguyen Khuyen Street
– 34 Hang Than Street
Or at every bun cha street restaurants
3. Cha ca La Vong (La Vong fried fish)
The north of Vietnam is well known for its use of pungent herbs, so much so that a dish of the ever-popular noodles can be served plain, dressed only with coriander and basil. There are many herbs that are indigenous to this northern region and virtually impossible to find outside Vietnam, but one herb that is easily available and used in many northern-style fish dishes is dill. In this classic dish from Hanoi, cha ca Hanoi, the dill is just as important as the fish and they complement each other beautifully. A simple accompaniment of plain rice or noodles is all that is needed to make an impressive meal.
Cha Ca Street – There is a street in Hanoi called Cha Ca Street, where all the restaurants specialize in this dish. The most famous is Cha Ca La Vong, a tiny restaurant that has been owned by the same family for generations and which claims to have first popularized cha ca. Cha ca is made from mud-fish, snake-headed fish, but the best one is Hemibagrus (Ca lang). Fish bone is left away to keep fish meat only, then seasoning, clipping by pieces of bamboo, and frying by coal heat. An oven of coal heat is needed when serving to keep Cha ca always hot. Cha ca is served with roasted peanuts, dry pancakes, soft noodle soup, spice vegetables and shrimp paste (mam tom) with lemon and chilly.
The Cha ca La Vong Restaurant on No.14 Cha Ca Street is the “ancestor restaurant” of the dish.
4. Bun Oc (noodles and snails)
This is a special cuisine of Hanoi. Anyone who used to live in Hanoi cannot forget this cuisine, which has sourish flavor of thickened vinegar, moreish and brittle snails, dried tofu, raw vegetables… It is quite easy to process this cuisine but it needs secrets to have a delicious bowl of bun oc.
You can enjoy this cuisine at Ms. Sau’ bun oc restaurant at 73A Mai Hac De, Ms Luong’s bun oc restaurant in Khuong Thuong Street, Co Beo restaurant at No. 1 Hoe Nhai, Nguyen Cao market, No. 5 Dong Mac, Hai Ba Trung district or many small street restaurants.
5. Nom bo kho (Sweet and sour grated salad with dried beef)
The main materials to process this cuisine include green papaya, dried beef, raw vegetables and sweet and sour fish sauce.
Nom bo kho is sold everywhere, but to enjoy the best Nom bo kho, you should visit the Ham Long Street and restaurants Ho Hoan Kiem Street.
6. Trang Tien Ice-cream
The ice cream shop that was established in the subsidized period has become a symbol of Hanoi. Located on Trang Tien Street, Hanoi’s center, the shop is crowded all time, even in winter days.
The Trang Tien ice-cream shop is at No. 35 Trang Tien Street.
7. West Lake Shrimp Pancake (Banh Tom Ho Tay)
Visitors who used to go to Hanoi will eagerly seek a chance to enjoy West Lake shrimp fried pancake, a speciality of this place, which can make a great impression. The reason is not only in shrimp pancake itself, but also in the beautiful scene at West Lake. It is great to enjoy shrimp pancake at West Lake at sunset in summer. The pink shrimp from the West Lake fresh water on light brown crackers seems to be very crispy.
The sweetness, aroma of shrimp, the delicious taste of crackers and sour, spicy sauce with the belostomatid essence all remind of the bland flavour at the tip of the tongue. The dinner could take a bite of the cake together with cold beer, and enjoy the nice smell coming from the stove and the breeze blowing from the lake. Then people may seek somewhere in their memory the fairy tale about the Golden Buffalo on the way looking for his lost mother, which created the West Lake.
Life has changed. The ways of selling and enjoying shrimp fried pancakes are also different from the previous ones. However, the shrimp fried pancake of West Lake still keeps its traditional flavor and taste so that whoever wanting to enjoy is surprised at the hot, cracker cake dipped in salty, sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
Location: Thanh Nien Street