Where to Eat in Hanoi
We spent 10 days in Hanoi eating our way around the crazy city. Hanoi was our first destination in Vietnam, so it took a little while to get used to the insane motorbike traffic. There are very few crosswalks in Hanoi, (much of Vietnam really) and even if you have a green walk light, don’t trust it, bikes will still fly towards you from all directions. I am starting to feel like an expert street crosser and sidewalk motorbike dodger!
My absolute favorite dish in all of Vietnam was bun cha in Hanoi. It doesn’t sound like much on paper, in fact grilled pork, fish sauce, cold noodles and herbs sounded kind of boring compared to pho, but the magic happens as you eat a bite of charred herb-infused pork patty with lemon basil, thinly sliced green papaya, and garlicky nuoc cham, followed by a bite of grilled pork with noodles and other herbs I don’t even know the names of, chased with a bite of crispy, crunchy, flaky fried spring roll dipped in said nuoc cham. I’m drooling now thinking about it. Bun cha is a lunch dish, so if you find it after about 1:30 pm, chances are it’s not a great place. (Times listed on the foodyvn site in links below are inaccurate.)
Where we ate bun cha:
1) Tuyết Bun Cha 34
For us Tuyết Bun Cha 34 was the number one spot, hands down, as well as the cheapest. It’s nice that the two often go hand in hand in Vietnam. The meat was the highest quality with the best charred flavor, the nuoc cham had the most zing, and the spring rolls were super flaky and fresh. We were also the only tourists, which is one of my eating goals.
Don’t be put off by the dirty floor here! All of the best places have a million napkins on the ground that they clean up after the lunch rush. The dirtier, the better!
2) Bún Chả Bát Sứ
This place, Bún Chả Bát Sứ, was right across the street from our hotel, so we went a few times. We were charged 100k for two orders of bun cha and 4 spring rolls.
It was really good, in fact the spring rolls may have been even better than my number one pick, but the meat wasn’t nearly as tasty and the sauce didn’t have quite as much flavor.
3) Bún Chả Hàng Mành
Bún Chả Hàng Mành was the most expensive and the worst of the three places we tried. Apparently this place, along with their other location, is the most famous place to eat bun cha in Hanoi. Don’t go here! The meat quality is so much lower than my other two picks, the spring rolls were fishy, and it costs nearly double.
There was one place that looked and smelled awesome, but we had just eaten and were about to go to the airport, so I never got to try it.
Pho: Vietnam’s most famous export
Hanoi is known to have the best pho in all of Vietnam, and we definitely ate our share of it. Pho is a breakfast or dinner dish in Vietnam. The best shops sell out before lunch, close, and re-open for dinner.
Where we ate pho
1) Pho Bat Dan
Pho Bat Dan is an exception to the rule. It is the most famous place to eat pho in Hanoi, it’s the best according to many people, and it’s not (much) more expensive than other bowls around the city. Come before 10am for the lunch shift or before 6pm for the dinner shift to make sure you get a bowl.
If you want a plate of fried dough/churros to dip in your broth, (trust me, you do!) ask for “quay.”
2. Phu My: 45 Bat Dan street
We stumbled upon this place one night when Pho Bat Dan was sold out, and we were really happy we did. It was packed with locals eating big bowls of noodles, but we liked the soup version better. It was more filling and packed more flavor than most bowls of pho.
3. Pho Ga Dac Biet: So 1 Hang Dieu
This place specializes in pho ga (chicken pho) and they know what they’re doing. The stock tastes like it’s been going for days, has tender chicken, and best of all, they have finely chopped kaffir lime leaves (my favorite herb/flavor) on the tables to add to your bowls. Their quay was also my favorite of anywhere I tried in Vietnam.
Banh Mi: The Vietnamese-French crossover
Banh mi or banh my is the merging of crispy, yet light baguette (due to rice flour being added in the mix) and yummy fillings consisting of things like grilled pork, pate, chicken, pickled veggies, eggs, and chili. Hanoi is not particularly know for its banh mi, but we did manage to find a few stand-outs. For the best banh mi in Vietnam, you should head to Hoi An and check out my post Best Bahn Mi in Hoi An.
Where we ate banh mi:
1. Bami Bread: 102C Trần Hưng Đạo, Quận Hoàn Kiem
2. Bahn Mi 25 : 25 Hang Ca Street
When we were in Hanoi, this was actually the number one rated place to eat in all of Hanoi. It did not live up to expectations for me. Nothing bad, but nothing remarkable. A tourist trap compared to #1 and #3 on this list.
3. Banh My Lan Ong: 20 Cha Ca
I saved the best for last on the banh mi list! They only do pate on the banh mi here, but apparently they have been making Hanoi’s best pate for over 100 years. It was so hard to find that I gave up one day, and then the next day I got lucky and found it. The food blog that had recommended it had the wrong address, or they had possibly moved.
Other amazing Hanoi specialties we loved:
-Ca Phe Trung: Vietnamese Egg coffee. Egg coffee? It sounded weird to me, but I dream about this coffee all the time. The best version we tried was at the oldest, most well known Giang Cafe. It tastes like tiramisu in a glass.
-Xoi: Sticky rice
We fell in love with sticky rice in Thailand, and were really glad to see that it was popular in Northern Vietnam. We tried Xoi Yen which was extremely busy and popular with the college-age-crowd. There are many places selling sticky rice in a row, but the address is 35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân. Look for several floors of people.
Hanoi, for me, is one of the greatest food cities in the world. It’s also a very cute city with beautiful French-inspired architecture, friendly people, and a lake right in the middle of the city.
We’d love to hear what your favorite meal in Hanoi was! Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to check it out when we go back!