Gastronomy in Hanoi

The food scene in Hanoi
Updated 2023-11-19 10:13

A foodie's utopia, Hanoi is not only the capital of Vietnam but also a fierce contender for the best cuisine in the country. Decorated with food vendors, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and upmarket dining choices, Hanoi will make you feel like food royalty. While your tastebuds are singing, your wallet doesn't need to worry. These dishes are perfect for the backpacker's budget, but the concoction of unique flavors will leave you craving for more.


Do as the locals do and give your cutlery and any plates or communal cups a quick wipe with the napkins on the table before tucking into your meal.

Eating out in Hanoi

Fine dining is bounteous in the city center, but for the real taste of Hanoi, look for establishments with small plastic stools and tables outside. Hanoi's specialty goes back to its roots with simple street food. This is the beating heart of Hanoi's culinary magnificence and is your green card into life with the locals.

These family-run enterprises will concoct you a bowl of joy within a minute of sitting down, and such a treat will set you back about 30,000 VND (USD 1.22). While in some countries noisy diners may be impolite, in Vietnam, you will hear a slurping orchestra to pay compliments to the chef. Have a look at some of the local specialties below to figure out where you should start!

Bun Rieu

Masterfully tossing together rice noodles, shrimp paste, and freshwater paddy crab with a spellbinding tomato broth, Bun Rieu is a breakfast favorite. As with many dishes in Hanoi, a side serving of vegetables can often be expected, too. A quick Google search or walk down the road will connect you with local vendors, and you can discover your local spot.

Bun Cha

One of Hanoi's most treasured gems, the pork and vermicelli noodle dish is also available with a fish alternative (bun cha ca). The shallow fried fish pieces maintain their crispy texture while you consume this aromatic medley of ingredients, so don't waste a mouthful. A big difference between north and south is the amount of bowls you're given. In the north, you will receive two bowls; in the south, they give you an additional third bowl. You'll also be given fresh herbs to wrap a piece of pork or fish to eat in one tasty bite! Check out bún chả hương liên or Bun Cha Obama.

Pho Bo

A firm favorite with locals, Pho is a combination of rice noodles, thin beef slices, and onions in a flavorful broth. Many of the streets in the Old Quarter are named after this dish due to its popularity, so finding a charming eatery that serves it won't be a struggle. It's no surprise when Vietnam entered the Michelin guide, several Pho places made the cut! The differences between a northern or southern bowl can depend on the cut of meat and also the sweetness of the broth, as Ho Chi Minh City and the south are known for adding sugar to everything.

Banh Mi

From the outside, these don't look much different from any other sandwich. However, if you find a good food hawker, the additional ingredients will make a huge difference. Banh Mi vendors can be found at the corner of almost every street in the city, especially in the tourist areas. But the best ones will also have a grilling machine with them, giving your sandwich a sultry, toasted texture. Additional ingredients include pate, cucumber slices, cilantro, pickled carrots, and white radishes in shredded form, finished with spicy chili sauce.

The Michelin Guide Experience: Vietnam Edition

2023 was an exciting year as Vietnam joined the international platform to be recognized for the culinary art that exists within its borders. A total of 48 restaurants were honored to join the Michelin Guide, plus four restaurants received their first Michelin star.

  • Anan (Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Gia (Hanoi)
  • Hibana by Koki (Hanoi)
  • Tam Vi (Hanoi)

With a spectrum of cuisine featuring European fusion, traditional Pho, and steakhouses, Vietnam is definitely a place for foodies to unite.

Useful links:

Take a taste roller coaster with The MICHELIN Guide Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City 2023 Full

Selection - Vietnam Tourism

Restaurants - Hanoi

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