two must-eat foods in hanoi
Reisen,  Vietnam

Must-eat foods in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

The main reason I wanted to go to Vietnam in the first place was the food. So, of course, I did the most research on the food before I went. What to eat, where to eat it, how much money to plan for food. In the 10 days, I was there I tried something new every day. This my list of must-eat foods in Hanoi.

I included a map at the end to show you exactly where I got all the foods!

Xôi xéo

Upon arriving in Hanoi you’ll quickly realize that the best way to discover the ins and outs of this bustling city is on the back of a motorbike with a local. I had the pleasure of exploring the city with Vu, a student with a love for food and lots of in-depth knowledge of his hometown.

The first place we went to was a street food place -and I have never seen one more deserving of the description- that exclusively sold one dish:

What is it?

Sticky rice with shaved mung bean, chicken fat, crunchy fried onions and dried pork meat.

Why should you try it?

It’s delicious. Xoi Xeo takes the top spot of my must-eat foods in Hanoi.

It was my favourite breakfast I had in Hanoi by far… also the earliest breakfast I had in Hanoi.

It fills you up for the entire day without making you feel stuffed.

How much does one plate cost?

10.000 ₫ or around 0,40€

Bánh mì

When I landed in Hanoi I had been up for over 58 hours and only wanted three things: Food, a shower and sleep. The second I sat down on my bed I knew that if I didn’t get up again right that second I would only get one of those three things. So I got up to find some food.

Without any Vietnamese money, any knowledge of Vietnamese or any idea where to find something good to eat I typed into google maps the first thing that came to mind: Bánh mì. And lo and behold the Banh mi 25 stall I had heard of was only a few streets away.

I ordered without knowing what I would get. Later I realized that they had the menu in English, but I was tired, okay?

What is it?

Crispy Baguette with liver paté, fried pork, cucumber, carrots, coriander, chilli and soy sauce.

Why should you try it?

There are many different types and all of them are delicious. It’s the perfect quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner. And it’s great to take on day tours if you’re not sure how much food is included!

How much does one cost?

25.000 ₫ or around 1€


On top of my list of foods-to-try was Phở. I had an address I wanted to try it at from a youtube video. When I got there the place was closed so I took to just walking through the streets of the old quarter. In front of a place with a big orange sign saying “Phở 10” was a long line of people. Which, in the old quarter, can mean two things: either it’s really good, or hyped by tourists.

Once at the front of the line, I was shown a six-person table that only had one unoccupied seat, but that’s how it works in Vietnam. Nobody wastes space with personal space. I had no idea what to order (again…). Thankfully two Vietnamese students to my right saw my confusion and when the waitress came, pointed to a Phở on the menu and I just nodded and smiled.

When I had my Phở and was thinking about adding some of the things on the table one of them put his hand over the sliced chilli, just as I was about to pick some up. Instead, he pointed me to the homemade chilli-sauce, which turned out to be spicy enough for me.

What is it?

A delicious soup consisting of savoury broth, rice noodles, herbs, and beef strips.

Why should you try it?

Phở ist Vietnam’s de facto national dish. Of course, that is not the only reason to try it. It’s delicious, it fills you up, it hydrates and especially when it’s cold (or raining) outside it’s the perfect meal.

How much does it cost?

60.000 ₫ or around 2,40€

Bánh Rán Cao Lâu

Another food I tried while touring the city with Vu were Bánh Rán. After visiting the ancient house on the outskirts of the Old Quarter he took me to a place he frequents for this tasty treat. It belongs to an old couple who have been selling them for years and fry them in a big pot of oil right on the street.

What is it?

Vietnamese sticky rice doughnuts with different fillings. Bánh Rán Ngọt ist coated in sesame, Bánh Rán Đường is covered in sugar and Bánh Rán Mật is drenched in honey, all three are filled with mung bean paste. Bánh Rán Mặn is filled with pork meat and wood ear mushroom.

Why should you try them?

They are a delicious (albeit heavy) streetside snack. Buy them freshly fried for the best taste.

How much do they cost?

They costs between 2.000 ₫ or around 0,08€ and 3.000 ₫ or 0,12€ each.

Cream Puff

Sometimes walking through the streets of a strange city in a country you’ve never been to leads you to discover exclusively local cuisine. Other times you learn that what you just had has been imported from somewhere entirely different. Beard-Papas is a brand from Japan but to this date, they have stores in 15 countries worldwide. Since I had this in Hanoi, I still decided to include it on this list.

What is it?

A creampuff filled with Vanilla cream and half covered in chocolate and a creampuff filled with Matcha custard.

Why should you try it?

It’s tasty. And before I knew where the brand is from I thought it was a remnant of the French colonialisation of Vietnam.

How much does it cost?

30.000 ₫ – 50.000 ₫ or between 1,17€ and 2€

Bún đậu

One of my last days I spent with Thuy and she showed me a different side of the city I hadn’t seen yet, despite having been there for two weeks. Late in the evening, we went to find something for dinner and although the one she wanted to go to originally was closed she found one nearby that sold the same dish in a similar manner.

Since she ordered for us I didn’t know what it was at first. But the second it was brought to the table I could tell what I was about to try:

What is it?

Our plate of Bún đậu consisted of vermicelli rice noodles, fried tofu, boiled pork leg, rice pork cake, intestine/blood sausage, fermented shrimp paste, greens and herbs.
We also got gum on the side, because if you eat the fermented shrimp paste your breath will smell horrible.

Why should you try it?

Travelling is an adventure. Food should be too. The fermented shrimp paste is not for everyone, but you’ll never know until you try.
Also if you are with a Vietnamese person they will love to watch your face as you eat it.

How much does it cost per Person?

40.000 ₫ or around 1,60€

Map of my must-eat foods in Hanoi

Have you been to Hanoi? Which foods are on your “must-eat foods in Hanoi” List?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll Up