Local Cuisine in Hanoi
Some of my friends said that after visiting Hanoi once, they never want to go back. I used to think of Hanoi as a boring city before I visited there…but I was wrong! After being there, I saw many differences that I couldn’t have understood before actually visiting the city. Now I realize that Hanoi is more traditional and graceful than Saigon. It is a city with old, classic places and interesting food, and it made me – a tourist who just visited Hanoi for the first time – want to come back again.
I totally love the food here (except for some weird dishes I can’t eat and don’t want to try). If you have an opportunity to visit Hanoi, don’t miss Hanoi’s local cuisine. Below are descriptions of some dishes that can be found only in Hanoi, or dishes of which the flavor is further enhanced if eaten in Hanoi:
- Bún chả:
Pork ground are cut into small pieces, grilled and eaten along with noodles, fish sauce, garlic, chili and green papaya salad. Bun cha sellers are found in any street, but Bún chả Hàng Mành is the best! A large bowl is just 60.000 VND – and I think it’s too much for one girl. With 2 people, I recommend you order one Bún chả and two rolls of nem rán whichcosts 30.000VND/roll. Nem rán is a dish of ground meat mixed with bean sprouts, egg, mushroom, vermicelli, rolled in rice paper, and fried until it is light brown and crispy.
“A big bowl with grilled meat pork and ribs”
- Lẩu ếch:
Frog hot pot is one of the top dishes on my ‘must-have’ list in Hanoi, and it is a terrific choice too warm up the body on a cold night! Along TrúcBạch Street, there are a series of restaurants serving frog hot pots, but I recommend the restaurant at 43 or 49 TrúcBạch Street – famous and delicious! A typical hot pot for 2-3 people costs around 400.000 – 500.000VND – quite expensive compared to other hot pots.
Frog skin and meat, pineapple, spring onion, green pepper and coriander are cooked together. A good frog hotpot has a rich, deep and spicy flavor, especially suitable for people who like spicy food. This hot pot is more complicated to cook than other types of hot pot, as the frog needs to be well marinated, deep fried and stir fried again with bamboo shoots before being added to the broth.
- Bún bò trộn:
Another kind of noodle, in this dish, beef is fried with beansprouts and vinegar fish sauce, served with salad and fried onion. All are mixed together before you eat. A very delicious dish which is quite similar to “bùnthịtxào” in Saigon!
Phở is associated with the city of Hanoi, where the first restaurant opened in the 1920s, and is a popular street food that has been named one of “the world’s 50 most delicious foods”, according to CNN. Phở Hanoi is often served with noodle, beef, onion and finger-shaped soufflé batte (cháoquẩy), and without raw vegetable. A local friend told me “once you try this dish, you will never forget it” – and that must be true, as many Hanoians living away from Hanoi really want to try Hanoi phở to recall their past memories about the city – but honestly, I don’t like Hanoi Phở! Saigon Phở has a better flavor!
There are many famous Phở restaurants in Hanoi, such as Phở Lý Quốc Sư, Phở Thìn,etc.
“Phở with beef”
- Bò nầm nướng (baked beef)
A mixed of raw meat/ bowel/ breast/ cartilage of beef, and mushroom/ okra/ pineapple/cucumber…grilled by yourself…at the table. Eat with bread. Delicious!
- Bún đậu mắm tôm:
Shrimp paste (mắm tôm) is popular in VietNam. I know some of you don’t like it because of the smell but come on… When u travel, travel as a local! You want to see the world, you have to see, hear, smell, touch, taste and feel. Except dog/cat meat and some terrible dishes, this one is worth to try! First time, maybe you don’t like it (like me), but trust me, if you try it in second or third time, you will feel sorry for people who refuse to try this.
Bún đậu mắm tôm includes “bún” noodles, fried “đậu” (tofu cake) and “mắm tôm” shrimp paste. Hanoians love it! That’s why it is easy to find a street vendor offering you this delicious dish. Add a few drops of fresh lemon or Satsuma, some slide peppers in shrimp paste (it’s more delicious if spicy, in my opinion), and mix all till the bowl is full of soft tiny bubbles (the smell will be less strong). When you eat it, dip a piece of tofu-cake, plus some noodle into the shrimp paste sauce, and eat it all together. Eating it with boiled pork and fried meat rolls is also delicious, but in restaurants, I think vendors just have tofu.
And a tip for you, you should bring a chewing-gum after eating this dish (lol)
- Kem Tràng Tiền:
Although the weather is pretty cold at night, lots of people eat ice cream in Hanoi. A local friend said that Hanoians love eating Tràng Tiền ice cream specially when it’s cold! When I travel, I want to be a local, so i tried and I realized why this place is so crowded and why people have to queue a long time in order to be served, even summer or winter. By the way, this is a take away shop!
Apart from these delicious dishes, there are a few weird famous dishes in Hanoi which I refuse to try. I get the creeps when I just think of these dishes:
- Thịt chó (dog meat):I don’t know how delicious this can be, to make so many Vietnamese people (especial Hanoians) love it, but there you have it. However, they eat for various reasons aside from culinary pleasure, such as to increase male virility or bring about good luck (?!?!!!). By some estimates, Hanoi accounts for up to half of all the dogs eaten in Vietnam K I saw lots of dog meat restaurants provides seven ways to cook dog, known as “cầy tơ bảy món”:
– Steamed dog meat with shrimp paste, rice flour, and lemongrass
– Steamed dog in shrimp paste, galangal, and rice vinegar
– Steamed dog meat
– Grilled dog meat
– Dog sausage
– Fried dog in lemongrass and chili
– Bamboo and dog meat soup
I find it unacceptable to eat dog – it is inhumane and cruel. I will never try it for sure! How can u eat it if you see this.. lots of shops like this sell dog meat on street. Terrible!
- Blood pudding (Tiết canh): Blood pudding sounds like a dish for vampires. But Hanoians love it. When I first met my coworkers in Hanoi, they took me to have lunch…and I got shocked when I see all of them (men and women) ordering this blood pudding and eating it as a delicacy. This dish is made from raw duck blood and mince of duck meat or cooked duck innards. When you eat, you can put lemon, peanuts and chopped herbs (corianders, mints,houttuynia..)