Local Guide: 20 Famous Food In Hanoi That Every Visitor Should Try


Hanoi, a city where every alleyway and street corner boasts a symphony of flavors, offers a culinary landscape as vibrant as its culture. From steaming bowls of Phở to the intricate layers of Bánh mì, the food here tells a story of tradition, innovation, and the sheer joy of taste. Each dish is a testament to the city’s rich gastronomic heritage, inviting visitors to indulge in an unforgettable journey of the senses.

In this article, we will uncover the 20 dishes of famous food in Hanoi, showcasing the heart of the city’s culinary landscape. So ready for your appetite!

What Is So Special About the Food In Hanoi?

The flavors of Hanoi’s food are as rich and storied as the city itself, with a history that stretches back over a millennium. In Hanoi, what to eat is often decided by the season and time of day, weaving the city’s food closely with the daily lives of its people. This gives each meal a sense of time and place, making dining here a truly local experience.


Hanoi food specifically attracts foreigners with its unique flavors

Flavors of Elegance

Hanoi’s culinary identity sets itself apart from other regions in Vietnam with its subtle sophistication and emphasis on balance. Unlike the bold, fiery flavors of the South or the bold zest of Central Vietnam, Hanoi’s dishes are characterized by a delicate complexity that honors the natural taste of the ingredients. Here, the broth of a Phở is not merely a soup but a clear, aromatic essence that has been perfected over hours of simmering. The use of spices is less about heat and more about creating a gentle depth of flavor that is almost poetic in its restraint.

Northern Climate’s Influence

Moreover, the northern climate, with its cooler temperatures, has given rise to a cuisine that favors warming and comfort without the heavy use of oils or overwhelming richness. This is evident in the preference for broths over purely coconut milk-based dishes, which are more common in the warmer south. Additionally, the abundance of freshwater resources around the Red River Delta contributes to the prominence of fish and other aquatic ingredients in Hanoi’s food, differentiating it from the coastal seafood or the mountainous fare of other regions.

Hanoi’s Taste of Tradition

In Hanoi, eating is also an act of cultural immersion, where the quiet refinement of the north’s heritage is savored in each carefully crafted dish. It is this distinctive blend of subtlety, seasonality, and sophistication that not only defines Hanoi’s food scene but also invites travelers to a taste experience unlike anywhere else in the country.

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20 Famous Food In Hanoi That Definitely Win Your Heart


Phở, the quintessential Vietnamese dish, has not only captured the hearts of locals but has also gained international acclaim, earning the 34th spot on TasteAtlas’s list of global favorites in 2022. This deceptively simple noodle soup is all about its broth, a labor of love that involves simmering beef or chicken for hours to coax a profoundly flavorful, aromatic liquid.


Pho bo, a traditional dish in Vietnam

Served over flat rice noodles, Phở bò (beef noodle soup) is particularly beloved. It’s interesting to note that, unlike its southern counterpart, Hanoi’s Phở does not typically include meatballs. Phở gà (chicken noodle soup), though less internationally renowned, is no less cherished in Hanoi. Crafted with the choicest cuts of chicken, such as the succulent wing or thigh, and often accompanied by a soft poached egg or even chicken ovaries for the early risers, this variation of Phở offers a lighter yet equally indulgent flavor profile.

Bánh mì

A testament to Hanoi’s French colonial past, Bánh mì is a delightful fusion of Vietnamese flavors and French culinary tradition. The Hanoi version holds true to simplicity, typically filled with roasted chicken or pork, homemade pork-liver pâté, headcheese, and a vibrant mix of fresh vegetables, including carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and a touch of chili sauce. Each bite of this Hanoi baguette is a rapturous blend of spicy, salty, sour, savory, and aromatic notes that dance on the palate.

While Bánh mì has seen variations across Vietnam, Hanoi’s rendition is particularly celebrated for its balance and the quality of its ingredients. Available from the humblest street food stands to the most upscale restaurants, this beloved baguette sandwich offers a quick, delicious meal for breakfast or lunch and stands as a proud symbol of the city’s vibrant street food scene long before it became a global culinary sensation.

Bún chả

As a lunchtime favorite, Bún chả is a harmonious blend of chargrilled pork belly and patties, served with a side of rice noodles and a bowl of diluted vinegar fish sauce for dipping. The magic of Bún chả lies in the interplay of flavors and textures. To fully enjoy this dish, one must combine the noodles, herbs, and a mixture of pork in one bite, adding a bit of fish sauce to each spoonful. For those looking for an extra indulgence, pairing the dish with nem (fried spring rolls) elevates the experience to a new level of satisfaction.


Savor the vibrant flavors of grilled pork, fresh herbs, and rice noodles

Each establishment adds its personal touch to the marinade and sauce, guaranteeing a unique taste adventure at every stop. The pork, marinated for hours and grilled over red charcoal, infuses Bún chả with a smoky, savory depth that is simply irresistible.

Bún ốc

Bún ốc is a noodle soup that brings the waterways of Vietnam to your bowl with its key ingredient: freshwater snails. Nestled among the snails are slices of ripe tomatoes, tender tofu, and a sprinkle of chopped scallions. Some vendors might also offer a more lavish bowl with added beef shank, Chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage), or even a fertilized duck egg for the more daring palate.

The broth, distinguished by its light and sour taste, owes its tanginess to wine vinegar. A side of sliced banana stems and an array of herbs accompany this dish, making it a medley of textures and flavors that are both refreshing and satisfying.

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Chả cá Lã Vọng

Chả cá, often known by its full name Chả cá Lã Vọng, is more than just a dish; it’s a culinary tradition that has been passed down through generations. Traditionally made with snakehead fish, this dish is a spectacle to behold as it is cooked right at your table amidst a fragrant cloud of fresh dill and scallions.


Exquisite dishes in Hanoi (Source: Collected)

The Doan family, originally serving this dish to revolutionaries at 14 Hang Son Street, eventually opened their home as a restaurant specializing in this single dish. The restaurant and the dish itself took their name from the statue of Lã Vọng, the wise old man, that adorned their entrance.

As you sit down, the aromatic dill and scallions signal the start of a memorable meal. Served with vermicelli, peanuts, and a variety of spices, Chả cá Lã Vọng is traditionally enjoyed with Mắm tôm, a strong, fermented shrimp paste. While mắm tôm is an acquired taste, a small sample may be all you need to appreciate its unique contribution to the dish.

Nộm bò khô

For those looking for an energizing snack to break up the afternoon, Nộm bò khô is a tantalizing option. This beef jerky salad is a vibrant mix of textures and flavors, featuring the crunch of green papaya and carrots, all mellowed by a seasoned fish sauce. The chewy, savory beef jerky brings a rich contrast to the crisp vegetables. For the culinary adventurers, there’s even a version with beef spleen and tripe, offering a different layer of texture and taste that’s sure to intrigue.

Nộm bò khô is a dish that demonstrates the Hanoian love for balancing flavors and is a must-try for those wanting to experience the full spectrum of the city’s street food delights.

Bún đậu Mắm tôm

Bún đậu Mắm tôm is a rustic yet remarkably flavorful dish that has transitioned from the rural kitchens of Vietnam to the bustling streets of Hanoi. The foundation of this meal is simple: soft vermicelli rice noodles and golden-brown fried tofu. However, diners now have the luxury of tailoring their dish with a variety of tantalizing toppings such as Chả cốm (a patty made from young green rice and pork), boiled pork, and even pork tripe.


Explore this iconic street food with bold flavors

The soul of Bún đậu, however, lies in the Mắm tôm sauce—a pungent shrimp paste that’s both the star and the acquired taste for many. While its robust aroma can be challenging for foreign palates, the dish can be enjoyed with a milder fish sauce alternative. The combination of the tofu’s subtle sweetness and nuttiness with the aromatic herbs creates a beautifully balanced dish that’s become a beloved staple among locals and a must-try for visitors seeking an authentic Hanoian culinary experience.

Mì vằn thắn

Mì vằn thắn is Hanoi’s unique take on noodles with dumplings, setting itself apart from its southern counterparts with a distinct Hanoian twist. Each bowl is a thoughtfully crafted symphony of flavors, featuring a generous garnish of fresh chives, earthy shiitake mushrooms, and crispy pork rind. The pièce de résistance is the large, fried dumpling that sits atop the bowl, offering an unexpected and delightful crunch that complements the soft, savory dumplings hidden within the broth.

This dish exemplifies the Hanoian dedication to creating depth and complexity in their noodle dishes, ensuring each bite is a new discovery in texture and taste.

Bún cá

When the summer heat of Hanoi sets in, Bún cá becomes the go-to dish to refresh and rejuvenate. This fish noodle soup is a wonderful blend of sweet and sour, achieved by incorporating juicy pineapples and ripe tomatoes into the broth. The soup is brimming with rice noodles, Vietnamese celery, and crispy pieces of fried tilapia, creating a delightful interplay of textures.

Served with fresh herbs and pickled bamboo shoots, Bún cá is a light yet satisfying meal that captures the essence of summer in Hanoi. Available in street stalls throughout the city, it’s a favorite among those seeking a nourishing and vibrant dish to beat the heat.

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Bún thang

Bún thang is a culinary mosaic of Hanoi, often crafted from the leftovers of the Tet holiday. Its soulful broth is simmered from chicken bones, pork, and shiitake mushrooms, a testament to the resourcefulness of Vietnamese cuisine. While the original recipe featured luxurious sa sung (sea worms) and ca cuong for added depth, these days, the dish is adorned with more accessible yet equally complex condiments.


Bún thang offers you refined simplicity and subtle flavors

A bowl of Bún thang is a tapestry of flavors: delicate strands of omelet, savory Chả giò (pork rolls), minced pork, shrimp floss, salted egg, and dried radish come together in harmony. The result is a dish with a unique savory character that lingers on the palate, leaving you with a sense of complete gastronomic contentment.

Miến xào lươn

Miến xào lươn offers a delightful escape for seafood aficionados. This dish features stir-fried glass noodles bathed in a rich eel-based broth, creating a canvas for the main attraction: crispy eel. The dish is enhanced with crunchy bean sprouts, a delicate egg, fresh cucumber slices, golden fried shallots, and aromatic purple perilla. Accompanying this dish, as is customary in Hanoi, is a plate of fresh herbs, thinly sliced banana blossoms, and more bean sprouts, allowing diners to tailor the texture and freshness to their taste.

Miến xào lươn is a perfect symphony of taste and texture, marrying the sea’s bounty with the earth’s gifts.

Bánh cuốn

Bánh cuốn, a dish so esteemed that it has been named one of the top 10 dishes in the world by the Australian magazine Traveller, is a hallmark of Hanoi’s culinary landscape. The steamed rice rolls from Thanh Tri Ward are hailed as the most authentic expression of this dish in the capital. These delicate parcels are filled with a savory blend of ground meat (chicken, shrimp, pork), ear mushrooms, and onions. They are accompanied by Chả lụa (Vietnamese ham), steamed beansprouts, and crisp cucumbers, all encased in a translucent rice flour sheet.

Despite the rich fillings, the flavor of Bánh cuốn is surprisingly mild, inviting you to dunk them into the accompanying dipping sauce for an extra kick. Whether for a light breakfast or a midday snack, Bánh cuốn is a staple that can be savored from the myriad of roadside vendors dotting the streets of Hanoi, each offering their own version of this beloved dish.

Bánh gối

Bánh gối, or Pillow cake, is a delightful indulgence that captivates the senses with its unique shape and enticing crunch. This Vietnamese dumpling is a treasure trove of textures and flavors, tightly encased in a rice-flour pastry. The filling, a savory combination of finely chopped glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, minced pork, and a whole quail egg, promises a burst of flavor with every bite. Deep-fried to golden perfection, Bánh gối is typically enjoyed with a tangy dipping sauce crafted from garlic, chili, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce, which cuts through the richness of the pastry.

For a refreshing contrast, it is often accompanied by crisp lettuce and fragrant coriander leaves, offering a reprieve from the indulgent greasiness. Found at any market or street corner in Hanoi, Bánh gối beckons as a quintessential treat for breakfast or a late afternoon snack.

Xôi xéo

Xôi xéo is a vibrant staple that brightens the morning streets of Hanoi with its sunshine-yellow hue. A simple yet satisfying street food, its foundation is sticky rice imbued with turmeric powder, which, after being soaked and steamed, radiates a warm, golden color. Paired with this are mung beans, transformed into a creamy paste through meticulous steaming and mashing. The dish is crowned with crispy fried shallots and a splash of savory soy sauce, creating a harmony of soft and crunchy textures.


Enjoy the sticky yellow rice with unique tastes

While the basic preparation is a delight in itself, Xôi xéo can be elevated with an assortment of toppings such as pâté, boiled chicken, chả lụa (Vietnamese ham), marinated pork belly, or preserved eggs, allowing for a heartier meal that can carry you through the day.

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Bún riêu

Bún riêu is a noodle soup that warms the soul, with its vibrant red broth signifying a feast for the taste buds. Despite its striking color, derived from annatto seed oil, the dish is inviting and not as intense as it may appear. The soup is a medley of rice noodles, ripe tomatoes, soft tofu, and various meats, each lending its own distinct texture and flavor. The magic of Bún riêu lies in how the broth infuses the tofu, ensuring that each mouthful bursts with the rich, savory essence of the soup.

A labor of love, the depth of the dish is a reflection of the care put into its preparation, making it a comforting and satisfying meal that resonates with the culinary spirit of Hanoi.

Chả cốm

Chả cốm, or green rice patties, is a dish that weaves a tale of resilience and ingenuity straight from the heart of Vietnam’s history. Born from the storms that once threatened the rice harvest, Cốm represents the transformation of adversity into a cherished culinary tradition. These tender green rice flakes offer a gentle sweetness and a soft texture that embody the essence of autumn in Hanoi, yet are adored all year round.

Chả cốm, crafted from a mixture of lean pork, pork paste, and Cốm, forms delicate patties fried to golden perfection. The result is a captivating crunch on the outside with a moist, fragrant interior that harmoniously blends the savory notes of pork with the fresh, grassy undertones of the new rice. This dish is not merely food; it is a bite of Hanoi’s soul, a savory slice of history that continues to enchant with each mouthful.

Kem Tràng Tiền

After the symphony of savory indulgences Hanoi has offered, the melody of kem Tràng Tiền, or Tràng Tiền ice cream, plays like a sweet coda. This traditional dessert has captured the hearts of Hanoians for generations, not only for its delectable range of flavors but also for its pure, natural taste.

Amidst a sea of both local and international ice cream brands, this sweet treat (the creamy scoops, the playful popsicles, the classic cones, or the chewy mochi) stands out with its distinctive flair. Flavors such as vanilla, strawberry, taro, green tea, and durian dance on the palate, inviting locals and travelers alike to the iconic No. 35, Tràng Tiền Street in Hoan Kiem District for a taste of nostalgia.

Cà phê trứng

Cà phê trứng, or egg coffee, is a Hanoi delight that stands as a testament to the city’s ability to marry traditional robusta beans with the surprising richness of egg yolk. This creamy concoction is a dreamy departure from your average coffee, offering a luscious layer of sweet egg foam that floats atop the intense coffee like a morning mist. Nestled under the soothing shade of khaya trees, one can immerse in the quintessential Hanoi experience: a cup of hot, fluffy Cà phê trứng in hand, the world buzzing by on a river of motorbikes.


The irresistible creamy layer of egg yolk atop a brewed cup of Vietnamese coffee 

Though this unique beverage can be found throughout Hanoi’s cafes, connoisseurs often flock to the legendary Giang Cafe or Dinh Cafe for the most authentic sip of this velvety treat.

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Ô mai

Ô mai is Hanoi’s quintessential snack, a testament to the art of preserving and flavoring that has been perfected over generations. This snack, typically enjoyed by locals and sought after by curious travelers, consists of a variety of fruits that have been meticulously dried and sweetened or salted, often with a hint of spice or a whisper of ginger. The result is a delightful mélange of flavors and textures, ranging from the chewiness of dried apricots to the tender bite of kumquats. Ô mai can be both tart and sweet, savory and spicy, capturing the complex palate of Vietnamese cuisine in every bite.

It’s not only a treat for the taste buds but also a cultural experience, often shared among friends or brought home as a souvenir to savor the taste of Hanoi.

Chè and Tào phớ

Chè is not just a dessert; it is a Vietnamese tradition served in a bowl, a culinary poem composed of varying textures and flavors that sing of the land’s bounty. In Hanoi, Chè is an umbrella term for a variety of sweet soups, puddings, and beverages that can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on the season or one’s mood. Each variation of Chè is a unique blend of ingredients such as mung beans, black-eyed peas, tapioca pearls, jelly, and fruit, all swimming in a sweet coconut milk or syrup base. The joy of Chè is in its versatility; it can be simple or complex, tailored to the individual’s preference.

Tào phớ, or tofu pudding, is a symphony of simplicity and refreshment that soothes the soul on Hanoi’s balmy summer days. This humble dessert has etched its place in the city’s culinary canon, offering a gentle reprieve from the sweltering heat with its smooth, silken texture and cooling essence. At its core, Tào phớ is a harmonious blend of pureed soybeans settled into a delicate pudding, lightly bathed in a jasmine-infused sugar syrup, and crowned with a refreshing layer of ice.

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Try All The Famous Food In Hanoi With Asia Pioneer Travel

Hanoi’s vibrant food scene is an epicurean labyrinth of flavors that are as enthralling as they are delicious. From the bustling street vendors offering local meals to the tranquil cafés where one can savor the unique taste, each dish is a testament to the city’s rich cultural tapestry. These famous food in Hanoi are culinary milestones that define the very essence of this historic city.

So do not hesitate to Craft Your Culinary Trip in Vietnam with APT to ensure that every palate is delighted and every craving is satisfied. Let’s dive into a world where every meal is a celebration, every bite a new discovery in Vietnam’s storied capital!

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