It’s often daunting visiting a new country and looking for recommendations for good street food–especially if most business is conducted in a foreign language and with foreign signage. We had the pleasure over the last two weeks to visit Hanoi, and to eat our way through the city, and have curated a number of recommendations for our beloved readers.
Without further ado, here we go!
Best Meal - DO NOT MISS:
It's called xôi thập cẩm. It's a bowl of sticky rice, covered with shaved mung beans, with fried onions, and chicken fat drizzled over it. (Yes, get the rice with the onions and the fat.)
Then you order small dishes, like stewed pork, sauteed paté, fried eggs, braised eggs, Chinese sausage, etc.
We ordered practically one of every small dish. The crunchy vinegar pickles are the perfect balance to the rich flavour of the rice / meat combination.
So, so delicious. We've never had anything like this....and we worry that we won't again unless we return to Vietnam. It was so good that our group decided to return for a second meal during our three-day stay. No one speaks English here though, so there's a lot of pointing and gesturing. There are two of them next to each other but one is clearly busier than the other. Go to the busier one. For six people, eating our faces silly, we spent around 250,000 VND (90 HKD).
Warning: You will feel very full afterwards. Very full. #riceexpands
Bánh Mì 25
We tried a bunch of different places, but this was hands down the best. We ordered both the chicken and the pork special. Both sandwiches come with paté, cucumbers, carrots, and a touch of chilli. The chicken special was a honey grilled thigh that was all chopped up and the pork special was three different kinds of pork, all on a delicious fresh baguette. YUM. (25,000-30,000 VND)
Bia Hoi Corner
Bia hoi is fresh beer that's made daily, and sold right out of the keg. It's cheap, and more flavourful than the stuff in the bottles. Sit outside on small chairs and watch the world go by. The snacks are quite delicious here as well. They've got these small deep-fried fermented pork sausage balls that are amazing. There are three places on this corner that serve bia hoi / snacks. We chose the one on the southeast corner as bia hoi was only 5,000 VND/glass.
Coconut Ice Cream:
Kem Tràng Tiền
We were introduced to this place by a local friend, and this may be the best ice cream (dairy or non-dairy) we've ever eaten. Set in a weird parking garage, go to the line with the ice cream scoops. There's also a line for soft serve and for popsicles. The vanilla is AMAZING, and the accompanying cone is even better. Try them all, but at a minimum, get the vanilla cone. (~10,000 VND)
Chicken Pho (Pho Ga):
Lady sitting in front of Banh Mi Hanoi
There's a lady sitting on the side of the street selling chicken pho. We didn't try the others, but this was a winner. The fried doughnuts you can use to dip up the delicious broth were the icing on the cake for this dish. We had already eaten a first dinner and were stuffed, but still killed a whole bowl of it. (30,000 VND)
Fried Food Extravaganza:
Quán Góc Đà
The shop's name is translated to 'restaurant under the banyan tree'. You can't miss it with the red and white sign. It's a hole, with an upstairs seating area, and they fry things. We sampled their spring rolls (nem chua), pillow cakes (banh goi), shrimp cakes (banh tom), and donuts (banh ran ngot). Just point to something and they'll fry it for you. (Ranges from 8,000 VND to 30,000 VND)
Cà Phê Giang
It's Vietnamese coffee, with an egg stirred inside for this creamy, eggy, sweet treat. You will love it if you like coffee and custard, or both. This is that, together, in one cup. (20,000 VND)
We hope you enjoy eating in Hanoi as much as we did. After a tough experience eating in Ho Chi Minh City, this city in the north really went above our expectations. Now, if we could only get more of that sticky rice here in Hong Kong...