Vietnamese food is highly underrated, in my opinion. I feel like I just brushed the surface of what Vietnam cuisine offers. There are definitely some famous eats that I missed during my stay in Hanoi Bun Cha being one (which I did have later in my trio 10/10). I always find eating difficult when I travel, even though I mark out restaurants ahead of time. You often find restaurants that you marked may have odd hours or are a 30min walk from you, and you are hungry now. Overall I did pretty okay while in Hanoi regarding food, except for the one night I ate on Beer Street. Being over-hungry and drenched in rain and wet. I made the mistake of not negotiating the price first since the menu lacked prices. Which meant I overpaid for a roast duck that was too tough and meh flavor-wise. Lesson learned I did pretty well for the rest of my time in Hanoi, and here are my favorite spots.
Banh Me 25
The infamous Bah Mi 25 more than lived up to Anthony Bourdains’ review. This was definitely the best Banh Mi I had in Vietnam. From the seasoning of the meat to the mixture of greens and cucumber toppings, this place slaps really hard. It is impossible to eat there just once. While you are there, ensure you try their smoothies and fruit popsicles made with fresh ingredients. Their sweet and refreshing taste hit the spot on a hot summer day. The three dine in areas are across the street form the kitchen and you can order once your sitting down.
Hidden near the Water puppet theater, this restaurant is in an ally and serves this one dish. To most people, this simple dish may seem unsocial. Still, it’s really the broth’s simplicity and quality that makes this pho special. It’s kinda like chicken noodle soup. It’s nothing special to look at, nor is it a complex dish, but when you get a good cup of it, nothing compares to it. It filled me with warmth and joy, making me nostalgic for days home sick from school. When I would watch cartoons or a soap opera, my mom didn’t allow me to watch on the couch covered in blankets.
To me, what’s unique about this Pho is its quality, simplicity, and the emotions it evokes while filling your body with the nutrition it needs to work. Pho Thin is delicious as served but adds in the limes and chili sauce for more spice and a more complex flavor.
Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
The sauce and spice on the side that you can add to the Pho was the highlight of this Pho for me. Again this time, I chose the version made with a simple beef broth and rice noodles. The origins of Pho are not exactly agreed on. Some people say it was birthed out of necessity in the 19th and 20th centuries from French restrictions on food; others attribute a French cooking influence, while others Cantonese. It does seem likely that some version of this dish has been in Vietnam for centuries evolving from different cultural and economic influences to what we know and love today.
Pho Some Place Near Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm… I Believe ????
So I thought I marked it, but I guess I didn’t. This dish wasn’t precisely Pho, but it was still bomb with minty greens, beef, and spice. It just shows when you’re starving, walking around, and taking a chance on a place where you might discover the most delightful and delicious food. My philosophy must be good if you see lots of locals there.
Kem Tuoi Trang Tien
If you like desserts and sweets, you will be disappointed in Vietnam’s lack of dessert choices. You won’t be disappointed in the desserts you find; the banana pancakes are crepe-like pancakes with bananas drizzled with condensed milk, a coconut milk jelly soup, and Gelatto. Gelatto, specifically from Kem Trang Tien. A little trick if, like me, you have no choice but to go during the hottest and humid months of the year is to look for a nearby cafe with the gelato cart out front with the name of this place. These cafes, unlike Kem Trang Tien have plenty of seating, fans, and, if you’re lucky, air-conditioning. The strawberry gelato was the perfect sweet treat to cool me off after a long morning walking around Hanoi.
Hanoi Food Culture
If you’re looking to try elevate authentic Vietnamese feed with a modern twist then look no further than Hanoi Food Culture. I usually like to ensure my last night on vacation is spent semi-luxury, whether at a hotel, a more expensive place to drink, or a higher-end restaurant. What matters the most to me is finding someplace to relax and decompress before the long travel day home. Hanoi food culture was the perfect spot to spend my last night. The food was out of this world. I got a pork dish cooked in banana leaves with rice noodles and mixed greens to eat it with, and let me tell you, the pork melted in my mouth; it was tender and flavored to salty, juicy perfection. The rose pineapple cocktail was a mix of flavors I would have never guessed would go together. It made for a unique sweet drink that I paired with a simple braise band and cream for dessert that filled my belly perfectly for a restful night’s sleep. I really can’t praise this place enough for how good the food was. Hanoi Food Culture is well worth the expense if you are looking for a nice dinner out.
Special Mention; Bananas and other Fruit
OMG… the bananas here are off the hook. I’m not talking about the Chiquita banana variety you can get at your local market. I’m talking about the Royal Banana. These bananas are shorter and thicker than the Cavendish Chiquita banana, which is the banana most people eat. The Royal banana is sweeter and all-around more flavorful than the Cavendish. I wish I had better words to describe its flavor, but you will just have to try it for yourself.
Vietnam has such a variety of fruit and is relatively accessible. Some of the most popular fruits include; a varietal of Leeche with a brown outer skin, dragonfruit, and Mango. I recommend ordering fruit and fruit smoothies (especially avocado) every chance you get when you visit Hanoi because of how fresh and sweet they are.
My Semi-Regret is Not Doing a Food Tour.
Finding places to eat or stopping at food stalls can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially for the solo traveler. I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing a food tour until my final day in Hanoi when I spent the night before my flight. It was quite a mistake because I had already eaten almost everything on the itinerary after two weeks of travel. I could have still booked one. However, I was looking for more odd dishes and unique street food to try that would challenge my western pallet (bugs, snails, age, and fermented food; I love it all). Most of the tour itineraries seemed to cater to what everyone would like, and the most popular dishes like seism doughnuts, bunch, Pho, and spring rolls. I was looking for something a little more exciting than what was listed. I think next time I’m in Vietnam, this will be something I do on my first day, and hopefully, I can find one that goes off the beaten path.
All The Places
Banh Mi 25 – The Kitchen and carryout is across the street from their three spaces to sit-down and eat. Find a seat before you order – 25 P. Hàng Cá, P, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Pho Thin – 61 P. Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Pho some place near Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam I believe????
Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su – 10 P. Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Kem Trang Tien Gelatto – 35 Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Hanoi Food Culture – 60 Ng. Phất Lộc, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
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