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Famous Street Food in Hanoi
Hanoi, Vietnam, just like most of the cities in Vietnam, offers a wide variety of food to those who visit it. Overall, the food in Hanoi was sweeter than that in Ho Chi Minh city, and it also tended to be more fragrant as opposed to the more herbaceous flavours of the south. It was a trend that my wife and I noticed as we moved further north through Vietnam.
In Hanoi the food is plentiful, it’s everywhere that you look and is an integral part of the livelihoods of many locals. More often than not, the street is the stage where much of what is food related in Hanoi takes place.
Street food can be found on the main streets of Hanoi, and down many of the side streets and alleways. Most areas aren’t dedicated to food, and you’ll find places to eat sandwiched in between residences and all kinds of businesses. Several times my wife and I would walk down an alleway that looked interesting only to find ourselves in the courtyard of a residence. The looks we received on these occasions ranged from puzzled to nonchalance.
Bun Cha is a dish of grilled pork and noodle. It’s served with grilled pork patties (cha) and white vermicelli noodles (bun). Usually it’s served with some banh goi (a pork, onion and mushroom spring roll type item) and herbs, chilli, garlic and dipping sauce. Bun Cha is quite common in Hanoi. Some of the places that we saw didn’t look like they were selling the best Bun Cha, so my wife had a walk around until we found the place below. You could see the food being prepared and cooked right there, and there were locals coming in and out the whole time getting food so we knew it was the one to eat at.
Dill is uncommon in Vietnam, but in the north of the country, it is one of the key components of the dish Cha Ca. Cha Ca is small fish fillets marinated in turmeric and galangal, and sauteed with a very generous helping of dill. The best Cha Ca restaurants in Hanoi will only serve this one dish and on many occasions you’ll actually find the dish referred to by the name of the restaurant that invented it, Cha Ca La Vong.
Mien Xao Luon
This dish consists of glass noodles stir fried with crispy little eels, bean sprouts and egg. It’s topped with cucumber, purple perilla and fried shallots. All of the different soft and crispy textures really combine to produce a dish that’s both tasty and texturally great. White tiles, metal tables and plastic chairs – common aspects in many of the places you’ll find street food at in Hanoi.
Vietnamese coffee is plentiful and cheap. Highlands Coffee is the common chain in Hanoi.
Who doesn’t love noodles soup? In the Vietnamese repertoire, beef pho noodle soup is a classic. In fact, it’s practically the national dish of Vietnam. Below is my family’s recipe for the quintessential Vietnamese food — pho noodle soup.