The history of Hanoi dates back more than 1,000 years. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi has taken great pains to retain traditional Vietnamese culture. This extends to all corners of the city from its authentic spaces to its delicious cuisine.
Hanoi represents an important crossroads of Vietnam; all roads lead to and from it. Including rail, air, and roadways.
But Hanoi is more than just a transportation hub. It also represents an important center of Vietnamese cuisine.
Not sure what to eat in Hanoi?
The city’s food proves different than that of the southern and central portions of the nation. Rich in flavor, Hanoi’s cuisine rarely descends into exaggerated or easily definable categories like sweet and sour or spicy.
A true reflection of Vietnam, the food here is filled with complex yet subtle flavorings. Read on to learn more about where to eat in Hanoi.
Where to Eat Phở
When you think of Vietnamese food, what comes to mind? We’ll wager that phở, one of Vietnam’s top exports, ranks somewhere near the top of the list.
Nothing hits the spot like a classic preparation of this glorious dish such as phở bo. Phở bo relies on beef broth, rice noodles, onions, scallions, and plenty of great herbs and seasonings for its signature flavor. Topped with cuts of beef, it satisfies.
More than likely, you’ll be eating a lot of phở during your trip. So, why not make it something worth savoring by knowing which restaurants to visit?
At the top of our list is Phở 10 Lý Quốc Sư (10 Lý Quốc Sư), which proves easy to find because of the long lines snaking outside of this establishment. A real Hanoi hotspot, it serves up a consistently delicious pho that locals love.
Another restaurant that delivers is Phở Gia Truyền Bát Đàn (49 Bát Đàn). One of the best phở restaurants in Hanoi, this is attested by the massive lines outside. It’s open from 6 am to 10 am and 6 pm to 8:30 pm daily.
There’s also Phở Thìn (13 Lò Đúc) where you’ll always dine with locals. Before adding their beef to finished dishes, it gets stir-fried with garlic.
The result? A one-of-a-kind smoky flavor.
Where to Eat Chả Cá
When it comes to must-try dishes in Hanoi, make sure you add chả cá to the top of your list. This gorgeous dish consists of grilled fish (traditionally a member of the Hemibagrus genus) seasoned with dill and turmeric.
That said, Hemibagrus catfish proves rarer these days. As a result, you’re far more likely to see the dish prepared with grilled mudfish or snakehead fish.
The fish is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over a charcoal fire. Then, at your table, it gets cooked a second time with the addition of green onions and dill.
Accompanied by vermicelli rice noodles and a garnish of chili peppers, cilantro, peanuts, and fish sauce, chả cá proves a tasty treat.
When it comes to the best restaurants in Hanoi for chả cá, check out Chả Cá Thăng Long (19 – 21 – 31 Đường Thành). You’ll enjoy the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere, and they cook right at your table.
If you’re more interested in rubbing elbows with locals, head over to Chả Cá Anh Vũ (120 K1 Giảng Võ). There, you’ll enjoy generous portions while experiencing a more authentic side of Hanoi.
Where to Eat Bún Chả
The most iconic dish, however, isn’t phở or chả cá. That honor goes to bún chả, a dish of pork meatballs, grilled fatty pork, and fish sauce mixed with lime juice, sugar, and garlic.
Served with vermicelli noodles, chili peppers, lettuce leaves, and fresh herbs, different regional ways to eat it exists. Fortunately, you’re in the north, which means simply throwing everything together in the bowl and diving in.
When it comes to this Hanoi food, two establishments top our list of favorites. Bún Chả Ta (21 Nguyễn Hữu Huân) offers an upscale experience. While you’ll pay more for your meal, it comes with air conditioning, which is a real treat!
And who can forget about Bún Chả Hương Liên (24 Lê Văn Hưu)? In 2016, Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama dined there on an iconic episode of No Reservations.
This has since been commemorated with the “Obama Combo.” Featuring bún chả and nem hải sản (fried seafood roll), the combo proves delightful with a chilled Hanoi beer.
Other Must-Try Vietnamese Dishes
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, give these menu items a try.
Bún bò nam bộ is a dish of vermicelli noodles piled high with bean sprouts, lettuce, pickled vegetables, fried onions, chopped peanuts, and marinated beef.
Hands down, the best place to savor this is Nha Hang Bach Phuong Bún Bò Nam Bộ (67 Hàng Điếu).
There’s also phở chiên phồng. Comprised of deep-fried noodle squares that puff up when cooked, this tasty treat is best eaten at any of the numerous restaurants lining the Trúc Bạch neighborhood.
And don’t forget about Hanoi street food! Few countries take street food as seriously as Vietnam. In Hanoi, you’ll see it just about everywhere.
One of our favorite street food treats? Barbecued chicken on a stick.
Order your choice of tasty chicken meats, from breasts to wings and even feet, and then get a side of barbecued sweet potatoes and “honey bread” to accompany it. As the name suggests, honey bread consists of grilled baguettes brushed with honey.
Head over to Lý Văn Phức (literally “Chicken Street”) and start exploring the wonders of Vietnamese street food. You can’t go wrong with Viet Ha Ga Nuong (18 Lý Văn Phức) or Thinh Vuong Ga Nuong (9 Lý Văn Phức). So, dive in.
What to Eat in Hanoi
As you can see, tasty options abound when it comes to what to eat in Hanoi. Bookmark this article so that you can come back to it later. We guarantee you’re going to want to give the restaurants and dishes above a try.
Interested in learning more about travel to Vietnam? Let’s chat! Contact us today to learn more about this exotic location and why now’s the perfect time to visit.