Hanoi is one of the world’s greatest street food cities and there’s no better way to unlock the hidden secrets of the Old Quarter and its cuisine than through joining us to explore what it has. This is the list of most popular local foods that should not be missed in Old Quarter, let’s take a look and find out what they are!
1. Xoi xeo
You will encounter this dish in almost every outdoors market. There are even two restaurants dedicated fully to this dish in the Old Quarters. Xoi xeo is sticky rice topped with ground de-hulled mung bean and fried onion.
Sometimes it can be served with eggs or steamed chicken breast on request. The serving is really filling and it is good for any time of the day but most Vietnamese have it for breakfast or lunch.
Where to try: Xoi Yen is an all-time local favourite sitting just North of Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem lake) on Nguyen Huu Huan street, few steps from Meracus Hotel. Please do not mind to ask our front desk if you want a try. The price varies, without chicken a bowl of Xoi xeo costs you about 1 USD. Have it with a glass of soy milk and you have more energy boost than a box of granola bars!
2. Banh cuon
Banh cuon is a Northern Vietnamese dish that migrated to Hanoi. Thin steamed rice flour pancakes filled with minced pork and cloud ear mushrooms are served with nuoc cham, a fish-sauce-based dipping sauce, fried shallots and fresh herbs.
Slightly goopy in texture, banh cuon are often eaten for breakfast or as an evening pick-me-up.
Try it at: Thanh Van Banh Cuon, 14 Hang Ga, Old Quarter, Hanoi
3. Bun rieu cua
Freshwater crabs flavor this tangy tomato soup that’s made with round rice vermicelli and topped with pounded crabmeat, deep-fried tofu and, often, congealed blood. An odoriferous purple shrimp paste is offered on the side — it tastes delicious.
Chilies and fresh herbs are the finishing touches for a complete one-dish meal.
Try it at: 11 Hang Bac St, Old Quarter, Hanoi
4. Nem cua be
You can find many types of excellent spring rolls all over Vietnam, but nem cua be, made with fresh crab meat, are particularly good. Unlike regular spring rolls, they are wrapped into a square shape before being fried.
Nem cua be are a specialty of Hai Phong, a seaside town not far away, but are fantastic in Hanoi as well.
Try it at: Nem Vuong Pho Co, 58 Dao Duy Tu, Old Quarter, Hanoi
5. Muc Nuong
There’s no greater pleasure than drinking on a busy Hanoi sidewalk, and what better to nosh on at while you do than muc nuong? Dried squid is grilled over hot coals before being shredded and served with a spicy sauce. It’s a chewy treat that is best washed down with shots of rice wine.
Try it at: Muc Nuong, 36 Hang Bo, Old Quarter, Hanoi
6. Pho Gia Truyen
Locals form a long queue every morning at Pho Gia Truyen, the most famous place in the old quarter for a delicious bowl of Pho Bo. Pho Bo is arguably the most well-known of all Vietnamese soups. It was inspired by French settlers who commonly ate beef, where Vietnamese traditionally preferred pork, chicken and fish (whilst using cattle as work animals).
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of soup kitchens has risen significantly and Pho Bo has become the favorite dish for breakfast and dinner in Hanoi, and throughout Vietnam.
Try it at: 49 Bat Dan, Old Quarter, Hanoi,x
Cha Ca Thang Long
Cha Ca (Vietnamese Grilled Fish) is a rare yet iconic dish in Hanoi that has been listed as one of the 1,001 dishes to eat before you die. One of the unique thing about Cha Ca is that it is usually the only food on the menu of the restaurants that serve it. So it’s either you eat it, or you don’t.
A meal of Cha Ca is made of a few key ingredients: chunks of turmeric marinated white fish meat usually of snakehead fish, cold Vietnamese vermicelli noodles and a few condiments such as peanuts, chopped spring onion, parsley, fish sauce and red chillies. As you might have known by now, the idea is to mix everything into a small bowl and serve.
Try it at: Cha Ca Thang Long Restaurant, 21 – 31 Duong Thanh Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi
Of course there are still many excellent dishes waiting for you to come and taste. Let’s join us to find out what they are!
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