Best food in Hanoi: 5 essential local dishes

You can find Vietnam’s best food in Hanoi, in my opinion.

If your taste buds are anything like mine, you crave bold flavor explosions – fresh or crisp vegetables – perfectly grilled meats – carbs, carbs, and more carbs.

Vietnam has all of these, but each region and city has its own unique style. In the North specifically, while the flavors aren’t as bold or spicy as say the South, the cuisine is still very complex. And good food is everywhere. Even just staying in the Old Quarter, there are so many food places you can easily check out!

But, this was probably because we had a friend showing us the can’t miss spots and dishes. My friend’s friend grew up in Northern Vietnam, and we were lucky enough to have him show us the absolute best food in Hanoi and give us a little background on each dish’s history (so really, thank him for this post and the local food inside).

Are you traveling to Vietnam and curious what to eat in Hanoi? Here are the local dishes he showed us that helped us find the best food in Hanoi! These are all either from the north, unique to Hanoi, popular in Hanoi, or Hanoi just does them the best!

Bún chả

Best Noodle Dish in Hanoi

This can only be described as “explosion of delicious flavors”.

Bun can be any vermicelli rice noodles and is usually served with herbs and fresh or pickled veggies. Specifically, bun cha is vermicelli rice noodles with fatty pork, and then bun cha ha noi is bun cha from Hanoi. To go even further, you can get bun cha ha noi nem cua bể, which is basically the above but with crab egg rolls!

You can easily find this in the US, but this originated in Hanoi and is the dish that Obama (be president again please!) and Anthony Bourdain famously shared.

Picture of bun cha ha noi

Where to get it: Bún Chả Hương Liên

24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Cà Phê Trứng

Most unique coffee in Hanoi

Ca phe trung is egg coffee, which really sounds weird but tastes amazing. The legend is during a milk shortage, egg yolk was used as a substitute to go with your coffee in Hanoi (you can read more here).

What does an egg coffee even taste like? Imagine a creamy/frothy Vietnamese coffee and you’ll get this. It’s made with whipped egg yolks and condensed milk and some places even add cheese! It can be served either hot or iced, and though I prefer the iced, you have to try them both! While you could get this in Ho Chi Minh city or other parts of Vietnam and it’s still tasty, I personally haven’t found a place that does it as well as its homeland of Hanoi.

Where to get it: Giảng Cafe

39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam


Best food in Hanoi if you’re my tastebud twin

I absolutely love mung beans, pork, and sticky rice. Seriously – my friends make fun of me because I go weeks just eating this.

Then I found xoi, which is sticky rice and toppings– like chicken, Chinese sausage, mung beans or egg. Xoi ga is my absolute favorite, and they pack it full of flavor!

Not feeling savory? Savory xoi is what’s more popular in northern Vietnam, but there’s also sweet xoi with tons of different toppings (coconut, pandan). You can learn all about the types available all over Vietnam here.

Where to get it: Xôi Yến

35B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam


Best traditional food in Hanoi

Okay, okay, everyone knows what pho is.

But does everyone know that pho as we know it originated in Hanoi?

Their style of pho is very distinct and different than what we get in the States, since a lot of our Vietnamese population comes from Southern refugees fleeing the Vietnam war. I won’t list places to try this because a ton of sites already do list where to get the best pho in Hanoi, and I wasn’t jazzed about where we went, but I still highly recommend trying pho here!

ChẢ CÁ Lã Vọng

Best food in Hanoi for seafood lovers

This can only be best described as a BIG FLAVOR EXPLOSION!

Cha ca is a local fish, and this is a dish served with turmeric and dill. Some places offer just the fish, but in Hanoi we had it in hotpot and ate family style. You can read more about its history here. You can’t miss trying this because it’s so, so amazing. Like I can’t even put words in this section to describe it because it will not begin to describe the amazing-ness of this dish.


19 – 21 – 31 Đường Thành, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Cửa Đông Hoàn Kiếm Hà Nội, Vietnam

Have you been to Hanoi before? What’s your favorite food there? Let me know in the comments!


Traveler. Foodie. Student debt haver. I love finding the best things to do and eat when traveling, and sharing them with everyone else who likes experiencing local culture or exploring the outdoors too! You can read more about me in my about page.

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