EAT LIKE A LOCAL IN NORTH VIETNAM


Hanoi
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There’s really no other way to discover the heart of a country than to embrace its culture by eating like a local. I mean how else are you really going to experience ‘different’ if you don’t try to ‘blend in’. No matter how many times I’ve been to North Vietnam, my taste buds are reawakened each time I visit. I also love watching the preparation of different dishes as they are being served so my food adventures in the streets of North Vietnam are never-ending.

1. Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Fatty Pork
(Bún Chả)

If you visit Hanoi & don’t eat bún chả then did you really visit Hanoi, did you? Bún chả is a classic Hanoi dish served with grilled fatty pork (thịt nướng) & or spring rolls (chả giò) over a plate of rice vermicelli noodles (bún) with fish sauce dipping & a side of herbs. We had this dish at 3 different locations & found that all 3 were similar in terms of flavour & portion however, address #3 was by far the most costly.

Address #1: Bún Chả Nem, 41 Cửa Đông, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Address #2: Bún Chả Đắc Kim, 1 Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Address #3: Bún Chả Bát Sứ, 23 Bát Sứ, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

2. Fish Noodle Soup
(Bún Cá)

The crispiness of the fried fish is just making me hungry for it all over again. We visited this restaurant twice during our recent trip because we simply could not get enough of it. They’re very generous with the fish too which is a thumbs up.

Address: Mai Nga – Bún Cá Hà Thành, 61A Lê Văn Hưu, Quận Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội

3. Vermicelli Soup with Chicken, Egg, Pork
(Bún Thang)


Rice vermicelli noodles with thinly sliced egg, pork, Vietnamese ham, laksa leaves, herbs & fried eel in chicken broth. This is one of my favourite type of rice vermicelli noodle dishes ever & you can only experience the authentic taste of it at Thế Kỷ in Hưng Yên as the ones available in Hanoi are just not as good.

Address: 17 Nguyễn Công Hoan, Lê Lợi, Hưng Yên

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4. Spicy Beef Noodle Soup
(Bún Bò Huế)

Let’s be honest.. this dish tastes much better from where it originates, Huế. That being said, still very good in all other cities of Vietnam including here in Hanoi. A bit of a travel tip on consuming greens, don’t eat them unless cooked. You might get lucky or you might end up in hospital, who knows.

Address: Bún Bò Huế Hàng Cá, 36 Hàng Cá, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

5. Bamboo Shoots Noodle Soup with Pork Balls
(Bún Mọc Thuỷ)

Not more to add here as already stated in the name of this dish. We stumbled past this restaurant after our massage at Huong Sen Sauna & Spa & glad that we popped in for a taste. You’ll find that the majority of the foods along this street to be far more cheap in terms of price, but don’t worry because they’re still great in flavour.

Address: Not far from/on the same street side as Huong Sen Sauna & Spa.

6. Southern Beef Vermicelli
(Bún Bò Nam Bộ)

Despite it’s name, this is not a Southern Vietnamese dish. Bún bò nam bộ (rice vermicelli & grilled lemongrass beef topped with bean sprouts, herbs, fried shallots, peanuts, pickled kohlrabi with a fish sauce dressing) is such a great summer; dry, fresh & tasty.

Address: Bún Bò Nam Bộ, 67 Hàng Điếu, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

7. Chicken Noodle Soup 
(Phở Gà)

Another traditional breakfast dish that you should try is phở gà. I find the chicken quite dry, but I was informed that this is how the locals like it. Apparently, tender chicken is very cheap & not very popular among locals at all.

Address: 156 Quán Thánh, Quận Ba Đình, Hà Nội

8. Rice Vermicelli Noodles, Fried Tofu & Fermented Shrimp Paste
(Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm)

Lunchtime at Bún Đậu! This might not be everyone’s type of dish as it was certainly not mine when I initially tried it. A platter of rice vermicelli, fried tofu, pork leg meat, sausage & boiled tongue served with fermented shrimp paste/fish sauce large enough to share between 4-5 people. If you’re not already used to the flavours of shrimp paste then you will find it incredibly strong in taste & smell. Also, there were a few things on this platter that I was not a fan of; (1) sausage & (2) boiled (some animal’s) tongue as I thought it both had a weird texture & unpleasant taste.

Address: Ngõ 31 Hàng Khay, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

9. Eel Glass Noodle Soup
(Miến Lươn)

An interesting dish to try is Miến Lươn – Đông Thịnh. You can have this dish; (1) soup or (2) dry, but all 6 of us went for the soup option. I quite liked the texture of the fried eel, but didn’t find this dish filling at all & the thought of having seconds was too much.

Address: 87 Hàng Điếu, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội


10. 
Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls
(Bánh Cuốn)

This is a pancake made from rice powder & water, & cooked over steam. Bánh cuốn is traditionally known as a breakfast dish however, there are restaurants that do serve this dish throughout the day such as Bánh Cuốn Gia Truyền. It comes in (1) plain & (2) ground pork with dried wood ear mushroom filling served with a light fish sauce & optional Vietnamese ham (chả lụa).

Address: 12-14 Hàng Gà, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

11. Sea Snails & Shellfish (Boiled/Stir-Fried)
(Ốc Luộc/Xào)


Your eyes might disapprove, but your taste buds may just say otherwise so give it a try! Click here for my list of locations where you can find/taste this dish.

12. Grilled Beef
(Bò Nướng)


Bò Nướng is my #1 place to go to for when I am craving meat. My friends & I have been to this place countless times & it never gets old. You basically cook your own food; veggies & meat (servings from 200g – 500g of beef/pork/combo). I find the texture of the pork rather chewy for my liking so I often order the beef alone. Keep in mind that wet paper towels are never free so don’t open them unless you intend to pay. At some places they even open it for you, that’s an instant charge right there Lol

Address: 5 Hàng Đậu, Đồng Xuân, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Bò Nướng (CIY grilled beefpork)

13. MYO Sticky Rice
(Xôi)

Xôi Yến is well known for creating your own sticky rice dish & is available throughout the day. Highly crowded in the morning, but if you visit during lunchtime then you’ll find plenty of seats.
Fun Fact: Vietnam has a custom where many will take a nap after lunch time so it’s dead quiet on the streets.
I usually order 
sticky rice & hominy (xôi báp) with mung beans (đậu), dried shredded pork (ruốc/chà bông) & egg (trng).

Address: 35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hà Nội

14. Sticky Rice with Mung Bean
(Xôi Xéo)

Unlike Xôi Yến, this sticky rice is far more light; less oily, softer in texture & is less costly too. I love the idea of it being served on a banana leaf as it makes me feel like the maker put a little more love into preparing it. Though, there’s not a lot of choices available; (1) sticky rice with mung bean, shredded pork & fried shallots or (2) sticky rice with dried shredded pork. This is a breakfast dish hence it is only available roughly from 7am – 9am at this location. 

Address: At a small home a few meters away/opposite street side to Huong Sen Sauna & Spa

15. Deep Fried Pillow Cake
(Bánh Gối)


Bánh Rán Gốc Đa is the place to visit for all things deep fried. You got to try the deep fried pillow cake which has glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, kohlrabi & ground pork wrapped/deep fried in a pillow shaped pastry served with a light fish sauce & salad/herbs.

Address: 52 Ly Quoc Su, Hoàn KiếmHà Nội

16. Savoury Crepes
(Bánh Xèo)

Bánh xèo is a Vietnamese savoury shrimp & pork crepe that is served with herbs & a fish sauce dipping. The traditional way to eat this is to wrap the crepe in herbs then dip into the fish sauce, it’s a hands on thing. Unfortunately, our group didn’t touch the greens due to hygiene reasons which makes a huge difference to the overall taste as the herbs add that freshness to the dish. Didn’t want to risk it for the biscuit.They also have lemongrass pork skewers here which was so good.

Address: Bánh Xèo Sáu Phước, 74 Cầu Đất, Hà Nội

17. Traditional Vietnamese Dessert 
(Chè)

Chè Bà Thơm serves a variety of traditional Vietnamese desserts, but I only come specifically for the lotus dessert (chè sen). The lotus seeds are boiled & tastes similar to chickpeas, but more fragrant. A little tip on consuming ice in Vietnam, probably best to avoid it really. However, I was told by a local that they do boil the water to make the ice here so I always revisit because never did I experience anything health-concerning.

Address: 146 Quán Thánh, Quận Ba Đình, Hà Nội

Chè sen (lotus seeds, grass jelly, chewy coconut jelly, shaved coconut & shaved ice in syrup)

(1) Chè trôi nước (sticky rice balls in ginger syrup with crushed peanuts)
(2) Chè hoa cau (mung bean pudding with coconut cream)
(3) Chè đậu đen (black bean sweet soup)


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18. Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Chop
(Cơm Tấm)

I believe this is a Southern Vietnamese dish, but what the hec. Found this on Instagram, it looked so good we had to give it a try. The rice, grilled pork, shredded pork, pickled kohlrabi, greens, meatloaf, & the sweet & sour soup on the side did not disappoint at all.

Address: 17 Ngõ Gạch, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội


19. Rice
(Cơm)

Every now & then I will crave for that home cooked rice kind of feeling & when I do, I’d visit Quán Cơm Phố. They offer a variety of affordable local northern dishes that are ideal for sharing. If you’re going to try the Thai green eggplants (cà pháo) then you must have it with rice + any green soup dish; it’s a must combo. This place is different vs the usual street food as seating arrangements are more comfortable & have a quieter atmosphere.

19. Pan-Fried Turmeric Fish & Dill
(Chả Cá )

This is CIY turmeric fish & dill served with vermicelli noodle, spice vegetables, peanuts & shrimp paste or fish sauce. I find this dish a little oily, but other than that everything tastes great together. This dish isn’t so new to me anymore now that it is available locally in Australia, but if you have not tried this in Hanoi then Chả Cá Thăng Long is the place to go. 

20. Rice Paper Rolls & Rice Flour Cakes

Nét Huế, this 3 story restaurant is slightly different in the sense that it tries to re-create the authentic experience of eating traditional foods from Huế with Zashiki style seating. Considering that I have never been to this part of Vietnam before, I find the food quite interesting. I loved the rice paper roll dishes; the rice paper instantly dissolves in your mouth without the need of you soaking it in water prior to rolling.

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