It’s easy to order pho by default when you’re traveling around Vietnam, but each region is home to its own specialties beyond the ubiquitous noodle soup. When in Hanoi, don’t overlook what else is native to the Northern region.
It’s not hard to figure out each joint’s signature dish. You’ll either see nearly everyone there order it, or it’ll be the only option you can order. Here are four things you can’t leave Hanoi without trying:
Bún Chả at Bún Chả Đắc Kim
While the masses in Hanoi slurp down pho for breakfast, bún chả is quite possibly the most popular food on the street when it comes to dinner. Throughout the city, you can spot (and smell) bún chả stands from the smoke wafting from the charcoal grills. This dish of grilled pork is placed atop a bowl of rice noodles, and you add your minced garlic, chili, limes and fresh herbs. The fish sauce for dipping is essential. The beauty of bún chả lies in the power of fresh herbs and strong flavorings; it’s light yet intensely aromatic.
Address: 1 Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hà Nội
Bánh Cuốn at Thanh Trì Bà Hoành
Paper-thin steamed rice rolls pick up the nuances of fishy dipping sauce alongside spongy pork patties. Crispy fried shallots and a drizzle of scallion oil add extra flavor, and – depending on the place – fresh herbs, cucumbers and lettuce make this dish extra refreshing.
Address: 66 Tô Hiến Thành, Bùi Thị Xuân, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội
Bun Bo Nam Bo at Bún Bò Nam Bộ Hàng Điếu
Bun no nam bo is found throughout Hanoi, and Bò Nam Bộ Hàng Điếu makes a stellar version. Bowls are piled with a mix of vermicelli rice noodles, beef, lettuce, bean sprouts, and roasted peanuts, then covered in fried shallots; it’s a textural wonderland. While this noodle dish has some broth, it’s not exactly soup. The mix of fish sauce, sugar, lemon and chilies supplying all the flavor is at the bottom, so be sure to mix everything well.
Address: 67 Hàng Điếu, Cửa Đông, Hà Nội
Cà Phê Trứng (Egg Coffee) at Giảng Cafe
Yes, egg coffee sounds strange. But it’s delicious. Made with egg yolk, coffee, condensed milk and sugar, cà phê trứng is a lot more decadent than your average latte. The beaten egg yolk and condensed milk blend are poured over a strongly brewed coffee, making your first sip rich and creamy.
Address: 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hà Nội