This is the very first time I’ve been to Vietnam and I had very minimal expectations about their cuisine as I am somewhat familiar with the taste of it. I’ve had my fair share of pho, lemongrass pork, banh mi and the likes, so I wasn’t all too nervous about dining there.
While I am familiar with the Vietnamese flavors, somehow those I had in Hanoi were different and lighter in flavor. Unlike any I’ve ever had and I think the Vietnamese flavors has been adopted and interpreted differently throughout the globe.
Here’s what I had and where I had them!
Pho at Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan
Just look at that glorious bowl of beef noodle soup. If you don’t already know, pho is usually served with beef, in some places they have chicken & vegetarian option. Over here there’s only 3 option on the menu. Beef, beef with innards or vegetarian.
While doing my research this place came highly recommended and apparently the best in the city. The broth was light but full of natural sweetness and the beef is freshly sliced on the spot.
The place has very minimal sitting area and has very short business hours, recommended to go in the morning instead. This place was also my first time experiencing the Vietnamese style of eating on low stools and tables.
Banh Mi at Banh My P
As I’m typing this, I’m missing the fresh banh mi sandwich which I loved so much I visited the place 3 times in one trip for the exact same order! If that doesn’t tell you how much I love this, I don’t know what will.
The baguette was so light, crispy and simply delicious. It’s a very basic sandwich but the baguette made all the difference in the world.
Cha Ca Thang Long at Cha Ca Thang Long
Yes how original, naming the shop after the dish. This shop only sells this and is a tourist hot spot. Which probably is why it is the most expensive meal I had in Hanoi.
This is an iconic dish in Hanoi which essentially is grilled Vietnamese fish served with vermicelli noodles, spring onion, dill and fish sauce. It can be quite fun / interesting as it is cooked in front of you and their staff will tell you how to enjoy this meal post cooking the fish.
I honestly enjoyed it but the price was just rather steep in my opinion. Worth one visit tho!
Bun Cha at Bun Cha Dac Kim
This is the infamous dish that Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama had in Hanoi, except at a different shop. Since their visit, I read that their food quality has dropped and it is only worth a visit if you’re a big fan of his food show. Otherwise, this place came highly recommended.
Very funny story, the shop right beside it also serves the same thing and is named the same, claiming to be the original one. Once you the queue side by side, you know which to go to.
This is a dish you should not miss, barbecued pork with rice vermicelli. Dip your noodles into the bowl of barbecued pork served with a sweet sauce and top it with fresh greens for the perfect spoonful.
Banh Cuon at Banh Cuon Gia Truyen Thanh Van
Banh Cuon, something wonderfully new for me but flavors is similar to rice noodles (chee cheong fun). In fact, it is exactly the same concept served with a different sauce and more greens.
Part of a typical Hong Kong dim sum menu would be the chee cheong fun served with pork / shrimp filling on a bed of sweet soy sauce. Banh Cuon is wrapped the same with pork / shrimp / beef and served with a side of sweet dipping sauce. I can’t be too sure if it is sweet sauce but it was paired nicely!
Bun Rieu at Bun Rieu Cua Hang Bac
The simplest way to explain this dish is, rice vermicelli served in a tomato broth. I’ve not had something like this before and was not used to it but rest assured, flavors are lights and broth easy on the palette. That’s one trend I have noticed in all Vietnamese cooking, light and natural flavors.
Egg Coffee at Cafe Giang
Egg coffee one the left. I honestly think is this an acquired taste. To begin, I don’t fancy coffee and the egg foam on top did not make it any better for me. A lot of people who sign up for food tours visit this cafe for their infamous coffee, must be a good sign.
Vietnamese desserts at Lutulata Desserts
I honestly don’t recall the name of the dessert I had :X I visited this cafe as it came highly recommended for those looking to try local desserts. Plus points for the coziness of the cafe and best for those looking to relax for a couple of hours after hours of walking throughout the city.
The dessert is very similar to other Southeast Asian desserts which are coconut milk based. There’s a variety of toppings you can have it with from grass jelly, red ruby, jack fruit and more.
I think I did a good job covering most Vietnamese food on my first trip to Hanoi and I loved all of it!