The 10 must-try restaurants in Hanoi
Wondering what to eat in Hanoi? Read on our tips of favorite restaurants you must try, at least one, when on the tour visiting this charming city and looking for something special for your story.
Though Vietnamese cuisine varies by region, as each city, even each village, may have its own list of unique local specialties. But Hanoi, as discovered, is world-famous for its finest foods and gastronomy. Compared to other cities in Vietnam, Hanoi food tends to be on the moreish side and reflects the fastidiousness of the cookers when picking the ingredients. Thankfully, you can also understand Hanoi history and culture by tasting some unmistakable foods at these restaurants, as they show the true color of Vietnamese tradition.
1.Cha Ca King – the Cha Ca restaurant chain, the fame of Hanoi
Address: 48 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
If there was a book of UNESCO for foods, Cha Ca (grilled/ fried chopped fish) ought to be listed at the first pages.
Favored by veteran gourmets, has been lasting for over decades, Cha Ca King leave its mark over Hanoians and tourists as the must-try (beside a couple of interesting things to do, while you still can – from prestigious Lonely Planet’s guide).
Traditional cuisine. Modern facilities. Cha Ca King commits to the highest quality of dish, as well as the best of catering.
Being accompanied by Hanoi for years, that period proves that most gourmets send their love to Cha Ca King and it becomes the well-known brand in the Capital. With a modern hood system standardized by Korea, you will not be worried about the unpleasant smell of grease around you when enjoying Kinh Ky fish loaf – one of the best foods in Hanoi.
2.Sen Tay Ho Food Court – the essence of Vietnamese culture
Address: 614 Lac Long Quan Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
Although there is the existence of allure western space in the very modern Hanoi, it still possesses high-class restaurants that preserve and transmit Vietnamese culture. Therefore, The Sen Tay Ho – where you are comfortable enjoying Hanoi gastronomy. The humble title originated from the flower but it contains many unexpected and interesting aspects of architecture and culinary culture.
The Sen restaurant offers diners with Eurasian dishes- extremely diverse with over 150 dishes in the menu. Especially, people can enjoy the food originated from the North-Central- and the South as well as taste the popular food of many countries on the globe. It is fantastic for diners to commence with a bowl of soup, a plate of German salad, or salmon salad or simply with a dish of pork ears accompanied by long and crunchy lotus.
If you can be on holiday in Hanoi, remember to experience the culinary and style at the renowned Hanoi restaurants having been shortlisted above. Please try hard to try the best dishes of Hanoi with luxurious style to be a great self-reward after hard-working days.
3.Bun Cha Huong Lien
Address: 24 Le Van Huu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
Already popular, this restaurant gained worldwide acclaim when President Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate Bun Cha together.
The pork balls are slightly fatty, incredibly juicy and tasty. Fresh herbs, noodles dipped into the special sauce, makes for an incredible harmony of flavors. A definite must eat in Hanoi dish!
Although the walls are now covered with Obama’s pictures, the cuisine remains the same – local, authentic and delicious. The look, however, may not be as luxury as high graded restaurant, but this is still one of the best places to have Bun Cha in Hanoi.
Address: 13 Lo Duc, Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
Pho is arguably Vietnam’s most iconic dish. It’s a Vietnamese noodle soup made with four ingredients – clear stock, rice, meat (beef or chicken), and a few herbs. From humble sidewalk stalls to upscale restaurants, you can find it everywhere in Hanoi, though many people believe that the city’s best pho is served here at Pho Thin.
Opened in 1979, the restaurant’s owner Nguyen Trong Thin found a novel way to add flavor to classic Pho bo (pho with beef). Instead of simply boiling the beef, he decided to stir-fry it with garlic before adding it to the soup. This minute innovation added new flavor components to the dish, turning a traditionally gentle stock into a more richly layered broth.
(For your reference, in the south, they use bean sprouts and a wider variety of fresh herbs. The broth in southern Pho is typically sweeter and with narrower noodles as well.)
5.Banh cuon Thanh Van
Address: 12 Hang Ga, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
This restaurant is known for a dish called Banh cuon. When we were there, it was obvious how popular this place is by all the tourists looking for it. There were even a couple of tour groups that stopped here for a bite to eat.
Banh cuon is made from a thin sheet of steamed fermented rice batter filled with seasoned ground pork and wood ear mushrooms. In fact, Banh cuon is typically made with pork but this restaurant offers other varieties as well, including rolls made with shrimp, as they’re topped with herbs and fried shallots and served with a bowl of fish sauce. The rice sheets were soft, slippery, and a little gummy. Both varieties of Banh cuon were delicious. They may remind you of those rice noodle rolls called Chee cheong fun served at Chinese dim sum restaurants.
6.Mien luon Dong Thinh
Address: 87 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
This restaurant is known for being one of the best places in Hanoi to have Luon (eel). Unlike Japanese unagi where the eel is grilled, most eel in Vietnam is dried then deep-fried so it’s crispy like dried anchovies. They were very crunchy but still had that signature sweetness. The Luon was served with glass noodles (Mien), fried garlic and shallots, cucumber slices, chopped peanuts, and fresh herbs and greens with just a shallow layer of broth made from eel bones and ginger. Delicious!
Tip: If you’d like to try something other than deep-fried eel, you can have this sup luon which is soup made with fresh eel.
7.Banh duc Thuy Khue
Address: 1 Alley 29, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Banh duc is a series of steamed cake made of rice flour and molded into different shapes, usually a circle, rectangle, or triangle. You will eat this delicious type of rice cake with dipping sauces and it often has peanuts inside. Banh duc has two common varieties in Hanoi: savory banh duc and plain banh duc with peanut.
The savory banh duc is placed in a bowl and meat sauce is poured directly on top. The plain cake with peanut is cut into small pieces and it will be dipped into an accompanying sauce. Each dish brings different tastes; while the plain banh duc with peanut has a simple taste of rich rice flour, a bit brittle and slightly sweet of peanut, the savory one brings much more sophisticated flavors and appearance.
They say eating Banh duc is tasting the favor of the authentic “rural” Vietnam.
8.Bun thang Ba Duc
Address: 48 Cau Go, Dong Da, Hanoi
Bun thang is a special dish both in its name and in how it’s made. In the past, the Hanoian women cleverly used the remaining food from Tet (Vietnamese New Year) and combined the leftovers to make a new dish which was tasty and economical. The dish’s name is derived from this phrase: “Thang thuoc bo,” which means a package of rejuvenation.
Bun thang consists of many nutritious ingredients mixed together, just like the method used in Eastern medicine to mix herbs. This dish is made primarily of noodles and chicken soup; in addition, people can eat it with duck eggs, shrimp, squid, onions, garlic, or shiitake mushrooms. This combination makes bun thang not only a delicious food but also a very nutritious one.
9.Banh mi Lan Ong
Address: 18 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Like pho, banh mi is ubiquitous in Vietnam. It’s one of Vietnamese cuisine’s most iconic dishes so everyone has their personal favorite. It’s the one dish we had everywhere we went in Vietnam.
Strictly speaking, banh mi is the Vietnamese word for bread, or more specifically the personal-sized French baguette. But when most tourists say “banh mi”, they’re referring to this sandwich made with different types of meat, vegetables, and condiments. We ordered this banh mi pa-te which consisted of liver pate, Vietnamese cold cuts, cucumber, and coriander. Among all the banh mi we enjoyed on this trip, this one was the simplest with the fewest ingredients but it was still really good. The bread is the true star of this dish. It’s incredibly crusty and crunchy on the outside but pillow-like on the inside.
10.Xoi xeo Yen
Address: 35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Xoi xeo is a typical fast food of Hanoians. It’s made of steamed glutinous rice and other delicious ingredients. During the steaming process, the rice is mixed with chicken fat. This steamed rice is then paired with mung bean, which is steamed and ground, and topped with crispy fried shallot. This fresh yellow xoi xeo is packaged in lotus leaf. The smells of chicken fat, crispy fried shallot, and lotus leaf combine to make a nondescript yet delectable scent of xoi xeo.
Though Xoi xeo is seem to be typical for breakfast, but you still can have it anytime of the day. It delivers the true taste of a street food that being along with Hanoians for generations.
As with all our food guides of what to eat, and which restaurant to go in Hanoi, this is by no means a definitive list but let’s hope it points you in the right direction. There is so much interesting food to be discovered in Northern Vietnam, particularly in the country’s capital.
Coming to Hanoi, try its traditional food with the peaceful beauty of an old city, and your trip will be more poetic and colorful. Keep on going, you’ll never run out of options!