19 BEST local food in Hanoi that you MUST try once!

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Huan Phu

Last Updated: February 22, 2024

Vietnam has one of the most colorful and lively cuisines on the planet, and the best way of enjoying it is in the restaurants in Hanoi. A trip to Hanoi is visiting a foodie paradise. From rice noodles to egg coffee, everything is fantastic. Here’s all you need to know about Vietnamese street food in Hanoi and what you can expect from a traditional Hanoi restaurant.

What are 5 popular street dishes in Vietnam?  If you don’t feel like reading our extensive list of the best food in Hanoi, the 5 most popular dishes in Hanoi are rice noodles, bun cha, pho bo, spring rolls and rice rolls. The sixth must-eat food the great banh mi!

Is street food popular in Hanoi? Hanoi has the most vibrant street food scene in Vietnam. The sticky rice, the pho bo or the noodle soup, every Vietnamese dish is delicious! There’s lots of dipping sauce, bean sprouts, lime juice and shrimp paste in your future. To taste it all, you can take a food tour to experience Vietnamese street food.

Is it safe to eat street food in Hanoi? Eating street food in Hanoi is safe; everything is fresh and cooked to order. If uncertain, you can also have lunch and dinner at any restaurant in Hanoi or the city’s coffee shops — a perfect opportunity to try the egg coffee!

What should I not miss in Hanoi? The Local food in Hanoi

From spring rolls to Bun cha, here’s a definitive list. The food you just can’t miss in Hanoi, from the best bun cha to fluffy steamed rice. From the best street food in Hanoi to fine dining, this is the most delicious food in Hanoi Vietnam.

1. Bun Cha (Barbecued pork with rice vermicelli)

Bun Cha
Bun Cha

Bun Cha is a typical Vietnamese dish that any foodie visiting Vietnam should experience. Learn more!

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Cooked low and slow, bun cha’s secret is in the grilled pork. Deliciously meaty and fatty, this delicacy is served over rice flour noodles and flavored with fried shallots, fresh herbs, and a tasty dipping sauce. This is authentic Hanoi food. A specialty in Hanoi streets, unlike beef noodle soup, this soup is rich and palate coating thanks to Vietnam’s prime pork. This is a dish you want to eat as soon as you get to Hanoi, Vietnam.

2. Mien Xao Luon (Noodles and fried eel)

what to eat in hanoi
Mien Xao Luon

Glass noodles serve as a bed for an unctuous and sea-scented serving of deep fried eel and herbs. An unknown dish outside Vietnam, this tasty meal is immensely popular with the locals. Vietnamese people will enjoy the buttery deep fried eel with lime juice, chili, dipping sauce and pickled vegetables. Food as straightforward but sophisticated as this is unique to Vietnam, and you’ll find it easily at Hanoi’s Old Quarter. It’s a specialty in many Hanoi restaurants.

3. Nem Cua Be (Crab spring rolls)

what to eat in hanoi
Nem Cua Be (Crab spring rolls)

A specialty from the coastal town of Hai Phong, these fantastic rolls are also trendy in Hanoi, where they are a critical part of the city’s street food. Cooks often combine crab meat and lean pork and toss them with carrots, mushrooms and bean sprouts to create a hearty filling for these crowd-pleasing rolls. It’s not uncommon for Vietnamese people to eat these rolls with rice flour noodles, and it’s the type of food you order to share center table.

4. Banh Tom (Fried shrimp cake)

what to eat in hanoi
Banh Tom. Photo by Cooky TV

Talking about fried delights, the Banh Tom are deep fried shrimp cakes with a crackly crust and a creamy core. This is the type of street food Hanoi offers from Vietnam’s bountiful coasts — the country is renowned for its shrimp. Banh Tom is originally from Hanoi, so you probably won’t find them anywhere else in Vietnam, so visit the city’s Old Quarter to discover them. Hanoi food is unique in that way. A specialty amongst the street food in Hanoi, you’ll love to eat these with your hands!

5. Cha Ca (Grilled fish with turmeric and dill)

Cha Ca
Cha Ca

This meal is a must-try for visitors visiting Vietnam since it provides a special gastronomic experience unique to the country's northern area. Learn more!

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Cha Ca is a notorious street in Hanoi and one of the few places where you’ll find the dish of the same name. Think of crispy battered white fish flavored with dill and turmeric. The flavor and texture are extraordinarily balanced, making Cha Ca amongst the most memorable dishes created in the city. The Doan family created the dish 130 years ago, and they still serve this dish — it’s the only item on their menu. This is one of many food stories that take place on Hanoi streets.

6. Bun Ca (Fish soup with noodles)

what to eat in hanoi
Spicy Bun Ca (Fish soup with noodles), one of the best food for winter time in Vietnam.

This is not an ordinary fish soup. Bun Ca takes many shapes, but it’s always topped with either crispy fish cakes or freshly sliced fish. The most popular types of fish used in the recipe are catfish, amberjack, snakehead fish and mackerel. Each species gives a unique personality to the noodle soup. Together with fish sauce, bean sprouts and many other toppings available to add brightness to the dish, this is specialty that shows how versatile the food is in Hanoi.

7. Banh Cuon (Steamed rice rolls)

Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon, a typical dish prepared with steamed rice buns with a savory filling, is one food that Western travelers must try when visiting. Learn more!

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You might not know this, but there’s a big influence of French food in the streets of Hanoi. In this case, you can see it in the banh cuon — crepe-like dumplings made with fermented flour and tapioca starch. The delicacy is often stuffed with shallots, mushrooms and ground pork for good one-biters that are incredibly popular with Vietnamese people. Tourists love them too for their similarity to Western crepes. More than street food in Hanoi, you’ll find these served in small local eateries in the Old Quarter, which is where you’ll eat in Hanoi every day.

8. Pho Bo (Vietnam’s flagship noodle soup)

what to eat in hanoi
Pho Bo Vietnam

Pho bo or just pho is a Vietnamese national dish, and it is known globally. A bowl of pho is one of those dishes you eat and don’t forget easily — few broths are as flavorful as beef pho. The noodles give the soup substance, and the slow-cooked meat shines best with lots of leafy greens and herbs. Food in Vietnam makes good use of aromatic herbs, and it pays off, especially in dishes like pho. Eat the best versions of this remarkable dish in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Keep in mind there’s beef and chicken pho, so make sure you know what you’re getting! And although this is soup, it’s still a popular Hanoi street food. 

9. Lau (Hot pot)

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Pieces of crab paste and fried tofu rise to the surface in a perfect pot of lau rieu cua. Photo by VnExpress

There are many types of soups and broths offered as part of the extensive street food scene in Hanoi. One of the most traditional is the Vietnamese Lau. Think of a steamy hot pot with everything from seafood and mushrooms to all veggies imaginable. As with most soups in Hanoi, the lau has lots of noodles, and it’s flavored with fish sauce and a splash of sweet and tangy tamarind sauce. It’s incredible how the Vietnamese make the most out of their fresh produce!  

10. Banh Mi, the most famous street food in Hanoi

Banh Mi
Banh Mi /ˌbɑːn ˈmiː/

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has acquired popularity both in Vietnam and beyond. Learn more!

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This one you surely know. The single most popular Vietnamese food is a sandwich, but not just any sandwich, but an authentic feast you eat with your hands. Walk the Ha Noi Old Quarter, the Hoan Kiem District, or the Hai Ba Trung District and find street vendors specialized in this fast-food item. Although the Banh mi is famous across Vietnam, Hanoi merchants make some of the best. Banh mi’s common fillings are pâté, cucumbers, fresh herbs, pickles and condiments, including mayo and chili. If there’s one Vietnamese food you must eat in Hanoi, it’s the banh mi.

11. Nom Bo (Beef jerky salad)

Green papaya salad with Beef Jerky - 19 BEST local food in Hanoi that you MUST try once!
Green papaya salad with Beef Jerky. Photo by hafoodtours

If you think salads are dull, wait until you try this beef jerky salad. Beef jerky is the essential ingredient in this light but flavorful dish, and it’s tossed with a unique dressing made with vinegar, sugar, chili sauce, fish sauce and other seasonings. The combination makes the salad deliciously savory. You’ll also find some crunch in every bite thanks to the roasted peanuts topping this vibrant salad.

12. Banh Bot Loc (Shrimp and pork dumplings)

banh bot loc
Banh Bot Loc

Banh Bot Loc is a delightful Vietnamese delicacy that holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. Learn more!

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These chewy dumplings are a popular snack, especially at eateries in the Old Quarter. And it’s easy to see why — wrapped in banana leaves, the flavorful tapioca batter stuffed with shrimp and pork is nicely seasoned with shallots, mushrooms and spices. Sometimes known as Vietnamese ravioli, this delicacy goes back to the country’s imperial era. They’re certainly fit for an emperor, and you can enjoy them too! What’s not to love?

13. Banh Xeo (Stuffed shrimp crepe)

banh xeo
Banh Xeo – Vietnamese Rice Pancake

Banh Xeo or Vietnamese Rice Pancake is a traditional Vietnamese dish. It is distinguished by its crunchy texture and unique tastes. Learn more!

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This famous snack is popular all around the country and is also known as Vietnamese crepes. The thin rice batter is cooked to crispy perfection in a blistering hot skillet and then rolled and stuffed with various fillings, including shrimp, veggies and herbs. These treats are tasty already, but when dipped in a sweet and savory sauce, they’re glorious. Vietnamese cooking is all about sauces and dips. That’s what makes it so much fun to eat!

14. Banh Goi (Cake filled with noodles and mushrooms)

hanoi food
Banh Goi (Cake filled with noodles and mushrooms)

What started as a cheap item served on Hanoi streets has become a real delicacy loved by all. These dumplings are not dissimilar to other banana leaf-wrapped rice flour one-biters, but they are still unique. Ground pork and mushrooms are the most popular filling, but there are variations. These are best enjoyed when freshly made when the texture is incredibly soft. The good news is that Banh Goi is always made to order, and get yours as soon as you see them because they never last long.

15. Nem Chua Ran (Fried fermented pork)

hanoi food
Nem chua ran. Photo by lamsonfood

Popular with young Vietnamese, the Nem Chua Ran are sour fried spring rolls made with fermented pork sausage rolled in Tempura breadcrumbs and deep fried for a crispy fast-food snack. Fragrant and flavorful, these are obviously popular beer snacks and are ideal for sharing on the table. Expect a lovely crunch and an intense flavor. This might look like ordinary fried food snacks, but they’re pretty distinctive. You’ll have to try them to understand. You’ll love them!

16. Goi Cuon (Spring rolls)

vietnamese soft rolls with crab wide - 19 BEST local food in Hanoi that you MUST try once!
Goi Cuon (Spring rolls).

This one is easy — you’ve surely tried the famous Vietnamese spring rolls stuffed with veggies, herbs and, more often than not, fresh shrimp or seasoned pork. The rice paper or bánh tráng is thin and springy, giving these rolls a pleasantly chewy bite. Keep in mind, these are rarely fried. You don’t have to walk more than a few feet along Hanoi’s Old Quarter or the the Hoan Kiem District to discover these two-biters. They’re as traditional as other classics like the pho and the banh mi.

17. Ca Phe Trung (Egg coffee)

Egg coffee
Ca Phe Trung – Egg Coffee

Ca Phe Trung, often known as Vietnamese Egg Coffee, is a must-try for visitors to Vietnam. Learn more!

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Enjoying a warm cup of egg coffee while visiting the Old Quarter is a must. Vietnam is a leading coffee producer, and people here are authentic coffee lovers. People don’t serve their coffee normally, though, but with lots of creamy condensed milk and a beaten egg yolk for a full breakfast in a mug. Robusta coffee, which is dark and intensely flavorful, balances the condensed milk’s sweetness, so don’t expect this traditional drink to be overly sweet. In Vietnam, food and drinks are all about balance.

18. Che Thap Cam (Sweet cold dessert)

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Sweet mixed up soups. Photo by nofoodphobia

This dessert will make you think differently about sweet food and about street food in Hanoi; it’s literally a sweet soup! Made with varied ingredients including taro, sweet potatoes, red mung bean paste, coconut milk and crunchy roasted peanuts, this layered dessert offers a different flavor in every spoonful. As colorful and flashy as they are tasty, Hanoi’s sweet soups are unlike any other street food snack you’ll find anywhere on the planet.

19. Kem Xoi (Sticky rice ice cream)

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Ice scream with sticky rice, odd but delicious!

You’ll find sticky rice in sweet and savory foods in Vietnam. The glutinous rice goes well with sweet ingredients like mung bean paste and mango and savory foods like chicken and pork. Vietnamese cooks use it for anything! People use sticky rice to make ice cream, too. Actually, they mix the rice with ice cream to create a balanced combination of flavor and texture. When topped with freshly grated coconut flakes, this dessert is amongst the most exciting dishes you’ll try on your trip to Vietnam.

Wondering where to try all these mouth-watering delicacies? Why, in Hanoi’s best restaurants, of course!

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Huan Phu
Editor at Vietnam Is Awesome
Unearthing untold stories in the heart of Vietnam. Your eyes to the unseen, your voice to the unheard. Exploring the rich tapestry of this nation, one headline at a time. Join me on this journalistic journey!

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