#1: Phở bò (North Vietnamese Traditional Noodle Soup)
Pho Bo, a favorite breakfast dish of locals.
Phở is the iconic Vietnamese dish that is one of the main symbols of Vietnam. Often enjoyed by locals on breakfast to kickstart their day, this noodle soup is light and full of flavors. We say that it’s a must-try dish when you are visiting Hanoi!
This soup is served in a bowl with a spoon and chopsticks. You will need to use both of them to devour this delicious soup. The soup gets its flavor a broth made from beef bones that are cooked for several hours.
To further intensify the taste, most locals put green onions, bean sprouts, basil, and coriander leaves. In most cases, you will get chili peppers, chili paste to spice up your meal on the table. Also, to neutralize the spiciness of the soup, most vendors will also serve you lime wedges.
The soup is filled with thick dried rice noodles (bánh phở) and slices of beef meat and fat. To taste the best Phở in Hanoi, we recommend you to visit local restaurants or street food stalls.
The soup will be much tastier, and cheaper than in tourist-oriented restaurants. You can find the best Phở in the Old Quarter for sure, as it is a sort of a mecca for food in Hanoi.
Expect to pay anywhere between 20,000 VND to 40,000 VND for a bowl of a tasty Phở! (0,87 USD to 1,73 USD)
#2: Bánh cuốn (Pancakes from Rice Flour)
Banh Cuon - Vietnamese pancakes.
Bánh cuốn is a staple food from North Vietnam, hence you can find it throughout Hanoi. It is also one of the favorite breakfast dishes for Vietnamese locals. The dish is best when served fresh, right in front of your eyes.
So, what content does this delicious street food has? The first thing that the street food vendors get their hands on when making bánh cuốn is the wide sheet of steamed fermented rice batter. Then, it is filled with a mix of cooked, seasoned pork, minced mushrooms, and minced shallots.
Alongside this dish, you will get chả lụa (pork sausage), bean sprouts, and sliced cucumbers. Also, most vendors will serve a fish sauce, nước chấm. You will either love it or hate it.
Most folks in Hanoi will serve a fried egg on top of it too! To find this amazing street food in Hanoi, look for a steel steamer in front of the street food stall.
You can expect to pay anywhere between 20,000 VND to 40,000 VND (0,87 USD to 1,73 USD).
#3: Bánh mì (French Baguette Sandwich)
Banh Mi - our favorite snack!
What Subway sandwiches are in the western hemisphere, Bánh mì is in Vietnam. But, this seemingly simple sandwich is so much more. It has become an art here in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. Before, it was just an ordinary sandwich that consisted of a French baguette as the base, with butter, ham, or pate as fillings.
With the rise of its popularity though, only the imagination can limit the number of combinations people make with Bánh mì. What exactly goes into the filling of Bánh mì then? Most often, the one that you will get in the morning hours will have freshly fried eggs to kick off your day. Of course, some soy sauce or chili (either in sauce, jelly, or raw format) aren't out of the picture to heat you up a bit!
Other most common ingredients are steamed pork rolls (often seasoned with fish sauce), minced pork or chicken meat, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber, and fresh cilantro.
The combination of ingredients will greatly depend on your knowledge and the availability of the individual Bánh mì stall. Whatever you get, we invite you to enjoy every crunchy, heavenly bite of this amazing sandwich.
Bánh mì is probably the most prevalent food in Hanoi, along with Phở, so you will have no difficulties finding this crispy sandwich. Look for the stalls that have French baguettes, or Bánh mì headlines, it's that simple!
The prices for it range from 8,000 VND to 25,000 VND (0,34 USD to 1,08 USD).
#4: Bún Thang
Bun Thang is probably the most unique dish to try in Hanoi.
If you want to taste unique street food in Hanoi, that this noodle soup is an ideal one. Actually, this dish comes from the ancient Hanoi people, so that gives it that extra dash of mysticism, not to mention flavorness. The name of this noodle soup reflects its actual contents, as it is essentially a rice vermicelli soup with a rainbow of extra ingredients.
Actually, the second part of the name of this dish, Thang, comes from thang thuốc - Chinese herbal medicine; which is also full of many different herbs/ingredients. People usually eat this dish during the Tết holiday, but you can find it on the streets of Hanoi during the year too!
As you already can imagine, Bún Thang is a sophisticated meal, a perfect image of Hanoi's culinary scene. The traditional variant of this amazing noodle soup has almost 20+ ingredients.
Ones that are worth the mention are the small strings of rice vermicelli, thinly sliced scrambled eggs, tender and shredded chicken meat, ham, mushrooms, dried shrimps, laksa leaves, and spring onions.
When you combine the ingredients with its broth that is made of chicken bones, shrimps, and mushrooms, you will get an extremely fragrant broth with a sweet combination of tastes.
Also, most cooks put few drops of Belostomatidae and serve it with shrimp taste for an even more unique rainbow of tastes. You can find this ancient and traditional dish in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
It is priced from 50,000 VND to 60,000 VND (2,15 USD to 2,58 USD).
#5: Xôi (Steamed Sticky Rice)
Xoi - a great dish to kick off your day!
Another amazing breakfast meal in Hanoi, beloved by locals and foreigners alike is Xôi. Some would argue that this dish is a perfect hangover cure, and we can totally relate to this! It is steamed sticky rice and is one of the traditional staple dishes in Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam alike.
The fun part about this dish is that it comes in various formats, so you can enjoy this meal sweet, savory; or if you want to surprise your digestive glands - both sweet and savory! Xôi is usually prepared with local fruits and vegetables, hence the different colors such as red, yellow, and purple.
No, there are no artificial colors added, this is all-natural! In most variations of this dish, you will taste the shredded coconut, muôi mè - which is a combination of salt, sugar, roasted peanuts and sesame, mung bean paste, and of course, the sticky rice.
Most of the vendors will wrap this amazing breakfast combination in banana leaves.
Some of the most popular variants are:
- Xôi Vò - sticky rice with mung beans
- Xôi Mặn - sticky rice with a savory garnish
- Xôi Băp - sticky rice with corn
- Xôi Gâc - sticky rice with gâc fruit
- Xôi Nêp Than - black sticky rice
Xôi is very easy to find in the morning, especially in the more local parts of Hanoi. Also, it is very cheap, as you can mostly find this dish for 10,000 VND (0,43$).
#6: Bánh Đúc Nóng
Banh Duc Nong - one of the rare gooey treats in Vietnam.
When you come to Vietnam from the Western countries, you may notice a lack of cheesy and glutinous food around the whole country. Well, we were immensely satisfied when we discovered this dish, as it is one of the rare foods that tick that mark! Bánh Đúc Nóng is a unique dish that originates from Northern Vietnam, but you can also find it all over the other Vietnamese regions.
It is yet another soup, as Vietnam has a lot of amazing soup dishes, but this one is a different beast of its own! Of course, this dish is so much more than goo. It features balanced flavors that are quite distinct, like with every other Vietnamese soup.
The broth of the soup is always made from pork, and the texture is made from glutinous rice flour. From the terminology perspective, "bánh dúc" is the name for the glutinous texture, and "nong" is hot.
Do not mistake this dish for Bánh Đúc, as it is a similar dish, with the same base, but it's not a soup. So, if you see Bánh Đúc on the street food stall, try to ask for the Bánh Đúc Nóng to get this amazing soup served right on your table.
After the broth and the glutinous rice are in the bowl, there come the toppings that add the mentioned distinct flavors to this tasty soup. Usually, the toppings are fried onions, fresh tofu slices, fresh herbs, and minced pork meat cooked with black mushrooms.
The mushrooms balance out the sweetness of the glutinous rice and pork, while the crispy tofu slices and fried onions give that crunchy feel to balance it all out.
To top it all off, the fresh herbs give extra freshness, to sweet, salty, and savory zest. The great thing about this soup is even though different tastes are mixed, everything keeps its individuality, so every spoon may be a bit different!
You can discover this amazing street food all over Hanoi Old Quarter. Just look for the Bánh Đúc sign and you are good to go!
The price for this dish is usually 15,000 to 30,000 VND (0,64 USD to 1,29 USD).
#7: Bún ốc
Bun Oc with some added pork and beef.
You may absolutely love or hate them, but one is certain - snails are prevalent in Vietnamese cuisine. One such dish, if you are ready to devour it, is Bún ốc. Locals absolutely adore this dish, as it is probably the second most popular breakfast choice, just after Phở soup.
Bún ốc is as traditional as it gets with a broth of strong scent amplified by fried onions, with a soft and naturally sweet taste. Of course, we mustn't forget the rice vermicelli that is inside this soup, which is usually made in small parts and is not separated like your usual Bún.
Usually, both big and small snails can be found in this soup, that are fried to give them that crispy crunch.
Most locals will also put inside some fresh herbs, fried banana, and soy cheese; to give this soup the signature yellow color. You can find different varieties of Bún ốc all over Hanoi, both in fancier restaurants and on the street food stalls.
The price for a bowl of Bún ốc is between 25,000 VND to 45,000 VND (1 USD to 2 USD).
#8: Bún chả
Bun Cha is a treat to behold.
Bún chả is an immensely popular rice noodle dish that originates from Hanoi. Outside of Hanoi, there is a very similar dish with a different name - Bún thịt nướng. Like many other rice noodle dishes, Bún chả is a harmony of different flavors, and is immensely rewarding for your digestive glands!
Essentially, Bún chả consists of pork meatballs and rice vermicelli that are dunked in a broth made of slightly sweet pork belly slices. Along with the main dish a vibrant dipping sauce (a combination of fish sauce with sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and chili), vegetables (such as papaya salad, or carrots, onions, turnip), and fresh herbs are served alongside it.
The idea of this dish is to dunk the herbs into the broth and then take the meat slices and dunk them in the dipping sauce. What you will experience is a pure rainbow of different amazing aromas, that you absolutely have to try!
As this is one of the most popular dishes in Hanoi, expect to find it on every corner! Just look for the sign that says Bún chả, and you're good to go!
Bún chả usually costs between 35,000 VND to 45,000 VND (1,50 USD to 1,93 USD).
We know that the street food scene in Hanoi is absolutely nuts and that there are numerous other dishes to try out! These are just our 8 personal picks, but we are sure if you wander around that you will find something even more attractive.
That's why we want you to put your suggestions in the comment section below, and we will add this to this list! We want to improve this list to be your ultimate go-to guide to street food in Hanoi!