Where To Eat The Best Street Food In Hanoi: The IDEAL 22 Spots



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The Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. At once chaotic and cerebral, sophisticated and elemental, ribald and refined, urbane and innocent, has got to be one of the most beguiling cities on the planet, whichever adjectives and dichotomies you wish to throw at it. 

Eating here often presents a similar sense of contrast. Sure, there are fancy, five star (and now Michelin-starred) restaurants, refining and reimagining dishes that have remained resolutely the same for generations. And yes, some of these restaurants are interesting, thought-provoking places to dine.

But the truly elite level food in the Vietnamese capital is of course found at street level, hunched on a plastic blue stool over some steaming noodles, or leaning against a precariously parked xe om, manipulating a spoon and chopsticks with grace, your bowl teetering precariously on the saddle. 

This is where the magic happens, where family recipes have seen their own kind of refinement throughout the years, where outside influences and external forces have made their mark on the food before being resoundingly, resolutely defeated, with only the best bits left over and assimilated. 

We’re here today in search of that magic. So, hop on the back of our Honda Dream as we traverse the Vietnamese capital in search of its best dishes. Here are our IDEAL 22 places to eat the best street food in Hanoi.

Pricing Guide

Please note that prices for street food in Hanoi fluctuate, owing to supply and demand, availability of ingredients and the whim of the owner. That said, you’ll eat very well here for very little. Even the more ‘premium’ meals on our list – a full spread of dishes plus beers – won’t cost more than £10 each.

Here’s a brief rundown of our pricing key…

đ – under 33’000đ (£1) a portion

đđ – under 66’000đ (£2) a portion

đđđ – under 99’000đ (£3) a portion

đđđđ – over 100’000đ (£3) a portion

Opening & Closing Times

The vast majority of the places on our list open early for breakfast and close once they’ve sold out, usually sometime in the mid-afternoon, but often with a meandering presence throughout the day. 

Several places on the IDEAL 22 are more popular for dinner or for late night eats – we’ll say explicitly when that’s the case – otherwise, assume that the opening hours are from around 7am to 4pm. All that said, you’ll still sometimes find a stall or shophouse sporadically shut for no broadcast reason. Fortunately, plenty of these restaurants are within walking distance of one another, so if you find one closed, it’s on to the next one!

None of the places on our list take reservations or can be booked in advance, or even have a website, for that matter. If it’s likely you’ll queue, again, we’ll mention it explicitly. 

Most of the places on our list operate on a pull-up-a-stool system, where you’ll be perched at a low-slung table or something just a little more upright, but without a backrest. Only Cha Ca Thang Long, Pho Ly Quoc Su and Quan An Ngon are more fully-fledged restaurants; they have proper dining chairs with a backrest, larger tables, and table service. You can take a little more time at these three, as you can at Chim Quay Bit Tet and Bit Tet Ngoc Hieu, where it’s expected that you’ll settle in for a few beers and a bit of a session.

Anyway, you get the picture; things are a little unpredictable price and timing wise, but you are pretty much guaranteed an amazing meal if you stick around with us. So, once again, here are our IDEAL 22 places to eat the best street food in Hanoi.

Map Of The Best Street Food Spots In Hanoi

Banh Mi Pate, 11 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for a textbook version of Vietnam’s world famous filled baguette…

Courtesy of @BanhMyPaTeHa

If you’re looking for one of the best banh mi spots in Hanoi, then head to Hang Ca street and look for the throng of tourists collected under a neon ‘A LOAF OF SMILES’ sign, clutching their branded Banh Mi 25 sarnies. 

Then, ignore that bricks and mortar operation, and head down the road and turn right, to a more randomly cobbled together collection of street side stools, a floor fan and a tarpaulin roof, and look for the words Banh My Pate. You have found the place.

Indeed, Banh Mi Pate at 11 Hang Ca, just yards from the supremely popular but ultimately disappointing Banh Mi 25 (sweet, weirdly ‘Western’ in flavour), actually serves a much better banh mi. The baguette here boasts just the right level of crisp exterior and giving centre, and has been hollowed out just a little rather than being completely gutted ‘till it’s a shell of its former self.

© author’s own

All of this bread chat is in the name of letting the eponymous pate (number 4 on the menu) do the proper talking. To us, this particular order – we repeat; number 4 – filled generously with lots of that pate, some salty af pork floss, some pickles, coriander and hot sauce, is the city’s best sandwich. And we’ve eaten a lot of them.

Best enjoyed in the mid-morning when the baguettes are crisp and fresh and the pre-work motorbike rush hour has dissipated, this is one to savour in the coffee shop opposite, on a low slung stool, with a thick, sweet iced coffee. Heaven.

Price: đ

Address: 11 P. Hàng Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Read: Where to eat the best banh mi in London

Bun Bo Nam Bo, 47 Tran Quoc Toan, Hai Ba Trung District

Ideal for crispy pork over sweet, spicy noodles, all served with a mountain of interesting herbs…

© author’s own

There are few prettier streets in Hanoi than Tran Quoc Toan, a little sidestreet that peels off the always jammed Ba Trieu thoroughfare to reveal a leafy promenade with plenty of cute coffee shops, banh mi stalls and noodle joints.

We’ve come to this attractive corner of the so-called French Quarter for the latter, to Bun Bo Nam Bo at 47 Tran Quoc Toan. Weirdly, we’ve not come for the headlining dish – the admittedly excellent South Vietnamese noodle stir-fry/salad bun bo nam bo. Instead, we’re pitching up for the restaurant’s other speciality; hu tieu, which is utterly superb here.

A semi-dry noodle dish in a sweet, salty, peanut-heavy broth, the hu tieu here is topped with the crispiest of deep-fried pork and a good handful of crispy shallots. Alongside, a bowl of herbs – some bitter, some refreshing, with nettles, green and purple perilla leaf, lettuce and more – is all there to be mixed through the bowl and to cradle some of that dressing.

God, it’s good, and lifted to even dizzier heights still by a spritz of calamansi lime. Gratis, never-ending iced jasmine tea is the perfect accompaniment, but they do serve beer if you’ve come to be uncouth.

© author’s own

This place is wildly popular with the lunch break crowd, with office workers piling in between midday and 1pm. During this hour, you might have to wait for ten minutes or so to get seated. Fortunately, there are two floors and plenty more hours in the day that this shophouse is open. The particularly stern hostess at number 47, taking payments and dishing out a few insults, is all part of the fun.

Price: đ

Address: 47 P. Trần Quốc Toản, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Cha Ca Thang Long, 6B Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for turmeric marinated fish, fried at the table…

© author’s own

Within Hanoi’s tangle of old streets lays a place so revered that it has attained an almost mystical status. Cha Ca La Vong, on Cha Ca street – named after the famous dish – has been serving the same dish, and only that dish, for hundreds of years. 

Catfish marinated in turmeric arrives at your table in a frying pan, sizzling away. You tend to it lovingly until it’s cooked before assembling yourself a bowl of cold, sour noodles, loads of fresh herbs and a pokey, dangerous looking fish sauce. Pop a piece of fish in there and prepare for ambrosia. Flavours are elegant and sophisticated, and just the right side of unusual. The home of the dish, Cha Ca La Vong often full to the rafters and obviously booking is not an option in a place of such heritage, but if you can get a seat, you must.

But – even though it is good – we’re not eating at Cha Ca La Vong in our rundown of Hanoi’s best places to eat street food. Instead, we’re heading round the corner, to Cha Ca Thang Long, which we think does an even better version, the catfish just that little bit plumper, the dill fresher and grassier, the dish just a touch more captivating, and the space more welcoming.

Cha ca, wherever you’re having it, is usually accompanied by a simple dipping sauce of fish sauce, sugar, lime and sliced red chilli, but for those who enjoy the funky flavours of fermented fish, make sure to request a side of mam tom, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce made from fermented shrimp paste. It is known for its strong, pungent aroma and distinctive, salty flavour. Not obligatorily served to foreigners, you’ll need to request this one especially, but the good folk at Cha Ca Thang Long will be impressed that you did.

This one is best for dinner, with a few friends and a few bottles of Bia Hanoi (really, Saigon tastes a little nicer to us, but when in Rome) accompanying the spread. That spread costs around 200’000đ for two people. For that, the equivalent of £6, you get the fish and all its re-upable accouterments, and a real sense of a special occasion when the sizzling pan hits the table.

Be warned (or, perhaps, be spoiled); Duong Thanh street has three different outposts of this restaurant, all with the same name and run by the same family. 6B just feels like the most convivial and spacious of the three to us.

Price: đđđđ

Address: 6B P. Đường Thành, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 000084, Vietnam

Xoi Yen, 35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for the ultimate Vietnamese comfort food of sticky rice and toppings…

© Vinh Dao via Canva

Located just a minute or two from Hoan Kiem lake, Xoi Yen is a culinary institution in the city, renowned for its variety of sticky rice dishes (xoi), which are topped with a range of savoury ingredients such as shredded chicken, braised pork belly pieces, pork floss, peanuts, Chinese sausage, hard boiled eggs, and pate. A grated ball of cooked, compressed mung bean seeds tops every bowl. 

Xoi Yen is the city’s most popular spot for xoi, and is packed out from breakfast to late-night, offering a taste of traditional Vietnamese comfort food that fills you up for breakfast or soaks up the liquor late at night. Or both; we’ve been known to bookend a day with the dish.

The sticky rice here is cooked to perfection, with a slightly chewy texture that makes it easy to eat with your hands – as it should be – and forms the anchor for the array of customisable treats. Though you could order your sticky rice ‘tat ca’ (with everything), we prefer a more carefully curated collection, usually of pate, Chinese sausage and egg. A zigzag of the ubiquitous Vietnamese chilli sauce condiment Chin Su, viscous, sweet and spicy, sends everything on its way.

© Reuben Strayer
Mixed plate from Xôi Yến restaurant by Prince Roy

Do be aware that this corner of Nguyen Huu Huan street happens to have not one but two of the best purveyors in town; right next to each other. Rumour has it that one family run shop fractured into two following an affair between husband and sister in law. Whichever one you choose to side with, it’s guaranteed to be delicious, but we prefer the one at 35B. Look for a big black and yellow sign; ‘Xoi Yen’.

Price: đ

Address: 35b P. Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

Quan Mien Luon Phuc, 152 Lac Trung, Hai Ba Trung District

Ideal for crispy eel noodles…

© author’s own

Mien Luon is a traditional Hanoian dish that combines humble ingredients to glorious effect. Here mien – slightly chewy, sticky glass noodles made from mung bean starch – sit beneath a tangle of luon (river eels), all crunchy and alluring from a deep, hard fry. Also in the bowl, positioned off to one side in case you’d prefer not to go green, is a heap of baby perilla leaves, which bring their unique fuzzy bitterness to the party, and some gently picked cucumbers.

The dish is often served with a clear, light broth (this one is called mien luon nuoc, which means water) made from eel bones, or in a dry version (mien luon tron), where the noodles and eel are to be mixed with a rich, spicy dressing.

For us, going dry results in the best version of this texturally invigorating dish. At Quan Mien Luon Phuc on the outskirts of the Hai Ba Trung district, you’ll find one of the city’s most exemplary versions. Sure, you’ll have to travel into more residential Hanoi for a taste, but it’s well worth the effort. Pile on a good scoop of the restaurant’s homemade chilli sauce; it lifts and lightens the whole thing. Now, it’s time to get crunching.

Price: đ

Address: 152 P. Lạc Trung, Thanh Lương, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Pho Ly Quoc Su, 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for the best beef noodle soup in the city (and, therefore, by rights, the world)…

© author’s own

Congratulations! You got this far through our rundown of the best street food in Hanoi without questioning when we were going to get to the headliner. Well, that time has arrived; it’s time to eat Hanoi-style beef pho.

You might have to wait a while or – heaven forbid – share your fourtop with some other tourists at Pho Ly Quoc Su for a bowl of the good stuff, but the service is brusque and efficient, and the chefs (visible through a glass partition constantly ladelling bowls of the good stuff) work quickly.

Once you’ve settled in, ordering is easy, with menus boasting English translations placed under the glass surface of every table, visible to all. Order the tai gau version – the move for those in the know – which sees fatty, long-braised brisket and slices of raw beef sharing the bowl.

Here, the brisket is thinly sliced and tender, with its mellow, yellow fat gently melting into the broth, causing those all-important globules to dapple the soup’s service. An unctuous mouthfeel awaits. The hot broth half cooks the raw slices, leaving them beautifully tender. 

That broth itself is on the lighter side, just a little cloudy (as it should be), and refreshing, savoury and obscenely moreish. The rice noodles are slippery and have the right bite, as in, not much bite at all. Indeed, many a pho in the UK has been ruined by al dente noodles, but not so here. 

Add a little of Pho LQS’s homemade chilli sauce and a dash of the liquid from their pickled garlic, and luxuriate in an absolutely exemplary version of the national dish. Phwoar.

Do be warned (this time, really be warned); Pho Ly Quoc Su has many branches in Hanoi, of which all but three are imitators, rather than sanctioned franchises. Don’t be fooled by the bright orange frontage you’ll occasionally see across the city; it’s at number 10 on actual, genuine Ly Quoc Su street in the Old Quarter that you’ll find the legit Pho Ly Quoc Su restaurant.

During busier hours (between around 11am and 2pm) you might have to wait for ten minutes or so to get seated.

Price: đđ

Address: 10 P. Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Read: Where to find the best pho in Hanoi

Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan, 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for – hang on – an even better beef noodle soup (why not have both?)…

© Laurence Taylor via Canva

All of those superlatives aside, Pho Ly Quoc Su might not even be the finest beef noodle soup in Ha Noi. That honour – and this is something of a rare consensus, it should be said – is found on Bat Dan street, at number 49. 

You won’t miss it, as the snaking queue of hungry locals stands testament to the quality of the bowls within this little family run shop. Service is cursory on a good day, and you’ll need to juggle a boiling hot bowl of soup while you jostle for a stool, but genuinely, honestly and with truth, it is worth it. 

You’ll see the beef briskets hanging in the doorframe (there is no window here – the shophouse opens fully out onto the street), their hulking frames swaying enticingly on their hooks, their fat shimmering enticingly. There are only three options; tai, tai nam or chin, which is rare beef, rare beef and braised flank, and braised brisket, respectively.

© ThaiBW from Getty Images via Canva

Our heart lies in the latter camp with the pho bo chin, all to get a taste of those swinging briskets. It’s a deeper, richer broth than Pho LQS, perhaps better suited to Hanoi’s surprisingly chilly winters, whilst the one at Ly Quoc Su is more of a summery affair. You could, of course, have both in a single sitting – Bat Dan is only just round the corner from Ly Quoc Su.

Enjoy with quay – the only accompaniment to proper pho – which is, in taste, akin to a savoury donut, and in appearance a dog bone. It takes on the flavour of the soup perfectly.

Expect to queue here, though you shouldn’t be waiting more than around 20 minutes, even during busy times.

Price: đđ

Address: 49 P. Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Banh Tom Ho Tay, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho (West Lake)

Ideal for pillowy, sweet shrimp cakes with lakeside views…

© HoaiPT from Getty Images via Canva

Banh Tom is a traditional Vietnamese seafood dish that originates in Hanoi. It’s a simple thing; fresh, pink, pert shell-on prawns are suspended in a sweet potato batter before the whole thing is deep fried. Served alongside is the obligatory dipping sauce and plate of fresh herbs, of course, the latter in this instance designed for wrapping up the sweet, delicious cakes for a one-bite-wonder situation.

The home of these shrimp cakes – fritters, really – is West Lake, Hanoi’s largest with a whopping 17km circumference. On bright, clear days when the lake’s waters lap, taking up position on one of the many, many cafe deckchairs that line the lake can feel very much like a day out at the seaside. And what better snack to enjoy in such environs than banh tom?

On route to Dang Thai Mai street, where you’ll find those lakeside deck chairs, you’ll see banh tom purveyors with elaborate displays of their shrimp cakes piled high pyramidically. Order a few to takeaway for a sunset dinner with a view, because this is one hell of a view across the water, the twinkling lights of Hanoi city reflecting on West Lake’s shimmering waters.

Price: đ

Address: 61 Ng. 50 Đặng Thai Mai, Quảng An, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Pho Ga Nguyet, 5B Phu Doan, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for chicken pho in salad form…

Light, herbaceous, restorative chicken pho in Hanoi is its own thing, a world away from the beef version’s assertive savouriness and rich mouthfeel. In fact, as a broad rule, if a shophouse or stall serves both chicken and beef pho, it’s fair to assume that neither is the greatest rendition, the two disciplines not interchangeable by any means.

Just outside of the Old Quarter proper, on Phu Doan, a stretch of road defined by garages and motorbike repairs, you’ll find one of Hanoi’s best versions of chicken pho at Pho Ga Nguyet.

Two key moves with your order here; request the dark chicken meat, which is so much more flavourful (the white breast meat is automatically allocated to non-Viets) and order the dish ‘tron’ – or dry. That’s where Pho Ga Nguyet really excels, the standard noodle soup turned into a gorgeous noodle salad, with a chicken fat and soy sauce spiked dressing that coats every damn noodle strand.

The main man here, wielding the cleaver all evening in the shophouse’s entrance, speaks a little English, and is a charming presence. Owing to the shophouse’s daytime operations fixing motorbikes and revving engines, Pho Ga Nguyet is an evening only affair. 

During the dinner rush (between 6pm and around 7:30pm), you might have to wait five minutes to get a seat.

Price: đđ

Address: 5b P. Phủ Doãn, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

Bun Rieu Cua, 11 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for a seriously refreshing bowl of crab and tomato noodle soup…

Bun Rieu by @ Alpha

Bun rieu cua is something of a hidden gem in the Vietnamese culinary repertoire, at least in the UK. This noodle soup, again hailing from Hanoi, features a rust-coloured, tomato-based broth that hums with the savoury essence of freshwater crab roe, creating a unique, umami-heavy aromatic foundation. 

The soup is typically garnished with a variety of fresh herbs, such as perilla and coriander, twists of shredded banana blossom, and deep-fried tofu. Cubes of congealed pig’s blood and snails also sometimes feature – both a welcome added treat, for sure. 

The noodles used are thin rice vermicelli, which absorb the broth beautifully. The usual customisation is encouraged, with lime wedges, chilli sauce and shrimp paste all available for the diner to get busy with.

It’s such a refreshing bowl, cleansing and rehydrating on the most humid of Hanoi days. In the corridor-like space of 11 Hang Bac in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, arguably the best bowl in the city is served.

Price: đđ

Address: 11 P. Hàng Bạc, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Chim Quay Bit Tet, 20 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for bronzed and burnished whole barbecued pigeon and lots and lots of fresh beer…

Image via @BittetHaiTy

Just yards from Hanoi’s famous Bia Hoi Corner, where you can enjoy an aperitif and digestiv, Chim Quay Bit Tet serves glazed, barbecued whole pigeons, hacked into bite size pieces and served in a mound, head, tail and all, with a spicy salt and calamansi lime dip. This is one to attack with your hands, on a low slung stool, with several icy beers and plenty of cheersing your neighbours. There really isn’t much more to say than that. 

Image via @BittetHaiTy
© Joel Riedesel

Oh, except the deep-fried frog’s legs are excellent, too; you’ll want to order a plate of those, as well as some stir fried morning glory and a bowl of steamed rice, for a full, complementary table. The whole thing shouldn’t cost you and a friend much more than a fiver.

Price: đđđđ

Address: 20 P. Hàng Giấy, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Bun Cha 34, 34 Hang Tan, Ba Dinh District

Ideal for Hanoi’s ultimate lunchtime dish, given a subtle twist…

Bu vinhdav from Getty Images

You’ll smell Bun Cha 34 even before you see the commotion of diners jostling for stools on the pavement outside the premises. It’s one of Hanoi’s most singular and inviting aromas; the smell of marinated pork gently catching and caramelising on a tiny makeshift barbecue, a portable fan blowing on it, fanning the flames and spreading the enticing aroma far and wide. Catching a smell of it has been known to stop passing motorbikes in their tracks; a risky business in a city of risky road related businesses, make no mistake.

Bun cha is perhaps the quintessential Hanoi dish, a porky paradise of grilled patties and slices of marinated belly, which are charred to perfection over an open flame. The meat is then piled – always generously – in a bowl of lightly sweetened, slightly vinegary fish sauce-based broth, accompanied by a generous portion of fresh herbs and pickled squares of papaya and carrot. 

Thin rice vermicelli noodles are served alongside, allowing diners to dip them into the broth and combine with the grilled pork, which is, admittedly, pretty hard to pull off owing to bun noodles’ inherent stickiness. Fortunately, an aunty is always on hand with a pair of scissors, ready to make the whole dance easier. 

The bun cha at Bun Cha 34 is distinctive in that the usual pork patties have been wrapped in wild piper leaf before being grilled, imparting a complex smokey bitterness to both the meat and the broth it rests in. The deep-fried spring rolls are awesome here too; not one bit greasy and served in a pleasing stack that you’ll demolish without a second glance.

Bun Cha 34, as is the rule for this beloved Hanoi dish, is only open for lunch. In fact, it’s incredibly rare that you’ll find bun cha served outside of lunchtime hours anywhere in the city.

Though at first glance Bun Cha 34 might look full, there’s always a corner, side table or extra stool to squeeze into.

Price: đđ

Address: 34 Hàng Than, Nguyễn Trung Trực, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam

By Vinh Dao via Canva

Bun Cha Dac Kim, 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for arguably Hanoi’s premier bun cha spot…

Another of Hanoi’s most iconic bun cha spots – arguably its most lauded and popular – isn’t far from 34, over on Hang Manh in the Old Quarter. 

Here, the pork patties are comically large – almost burger size – and the plates of herbs are piled even higher than usual. Yep, though bun cha always feels like a super generous affair, everything at Bun Cha Dac Kim feels a little extra. That said, who’s complaining about massive portions when the dish is this good?

By Infel2nOz via Canva

Though Bun Cha Dac Kim might initially look full, there are a couple of floors out of view where there’s a little more dining space. Some of the adjacent coffee shops have also been known to let you pitch up with your bun cha, providing you buy a coffee or juice.

Price: đđđ

Address: 1 P. Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Chicken Street, Ly Van Phuc, Dong Da District

Ideal for late night grilled chicken…

By Bunny Graphy via Canva

Known locally as ‘Chicken Street’ – on the map it’s Ly Van Phuc – Hanoi has a whole street dedicated to serving barbecued poultry. What could be better? On a weekend, if you have a large group, it’s one of the best places in the city to come, get loose and make merry. While it’s kinda out of the way – take a taxi to the National Stadium and work from there if you’re not on a scooter – and a little hard to find, the smell of ‘ga’ on the grill is unmissable.  

You can choose between different parts of the chicken – a little thigh and a little liver is our usual vibe – and be sure to order a side of the grilled banh mi bread brushed with honey. The refreshing pickled cucumbers brought to every table are the perfect accompaniment – don’t be afraid to ask for more.

Though the temptation will of course be to head to the bottom of Chicken Street, next to the car park where everyone seems to be having the best time, we’ve found the grilled chicken served right at the entrance to Ly Van Phuc to be the best. And, to be honest, the most thoroughly cooked; it’s dark down at the end of Chicken Street and sometimes the chicken comes up looking pretty pink.

Price: đđđ

Address: Lý Văn Phức, Cát Linh, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Quan An Ngon, 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for trying a selection of Hanoi street food classics in sanitised surrounds…

image via @ngon.restaurants

Though we realise we said ‘street food’ in the title, we’d be remiss to offer a rundown of the best places to eat street food in Hanoi without mentioning Quan An Ngon, a restaurant with air conditioning, proper upright seats with back support, and a whole host of different street food purveyors all surrounding the central dining room. 

Since so many great Hanoi restaurants and shophouses specialise in a single dish, Quan An Ngon is a wonderful place to try various regional Vietnamese specialities all in one sitting. It’s an attractive, convivial space with a large central alfresco dining area illuminated by lanterns, fairy lights and an always buzzy atmosphere. The menu has English translations and the staff speak a little, too, making the restaurant a chilled out place for a decent feed. The salads here are particularly good, as is the banh xeo, a type of crispy rice pancake filled with minced pork and prawns.

Quan An Ngon is open for lunch through to dinner and beyond, closing at around 10pm. There are a couple of other branches in the French Quarter, too, which are equally as good.

Price: đđđđ 

Address: 18 P. Phan Bội Châu, Cửa Nam, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 111103, Vietnam

Banh Goi Ly Quoc Su, 52 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for deep-fried, savoury pastries of perfection…

© Authors own

Banh Goi Ly Quoc Su is the kind of place you dream about long after you’ve left Hanoi. A low slung, chilled out spot slap bang in the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, this place serves up some of the best banh goi in Hanoi. Imagine a crispy, golden pastry shell stuffed with a savoury mix of minced pork, mushrooms, vermicelli and quail eggs that’s somewhere between a samosa and a Cornish pasty. If you’re in Hanoi, missing this would be a culinary crime.

Price: đ

Address: 52 P. Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Banh Cuon Gia Truyen, 14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for the most elegant expression of Vietnamese cuisine, on the street…

© Authors own

Vietnamese food is well known for its lightness and sophistication, and no dish better encapsulates this than banh cuon, the supremely delicate steamed rice rolls that you’ll see aunties meticulously making across the city. 

On a circular surface, a silky batter of rice flour is spread into a thin layer and steamed until translucent, before being filled with a mixture of minced pork and wood ear mushrooms and rolled. It’s a mesmerising spectacle, and one whose dexterity would be impressive in a well-appointed fine dining kitchen, let alone on a street corner. 

Once these rolls have been skilfully shifted onto a small plate, deep-fried shallots and fresh herbs are scattered on top. The usual nuoc cham dipping sauce seals the deal. 

Interestingly, at Banh Cuon Gia Truyen, one of Hanoi’s most famous banh cuon restaurants, you can order a small spritz of water bug essence (ca cuong) in your dipping sauce, which tastes a little like bubblegum. Order a slice or two of Vietnamese pork sausage (cha lua) to go alongside.

Price: đ

Address: 14 P P. Hàng Gà, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Pho Ga Mai Anh, 32 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung District

Ideal for a cleansing bowl of chicken noodle soup that could dust off any hangover…

We’ve all seen the Hanoi episode of Parts Unknown where Anthony Bourdain takes then-president Obama for bun cha, right? 

We’d been regulars of that particular spot, Bun Cha Huong Lien, for years prior to the show, but following its broadcast and name change to ‘Obama Bun Cha’, standards – perhaps unsurprisingly – slipped. 

Not to worry. Give the tour coaches unloading onto Le Van Huu a swerve and instead head directly next door for one of the best chicken noodle soups in the city, at Pho Ga Mai Anh. 

This is one clean broth, totally clear and boasting a crystalline flavour not unlike a chicken consomme. Aside from tender poached chicken meat, a couple of bouncy chicken balls (snigger) and soft rice noodles, only a few slices of the green of spring onions bother the bowl. Seemingly, a judgement has been made that any other herbs would only muddy the broth. We think it’s a good shout, as Mai Anh’s chicken pho really is a celebration of that replenishing broth. 

Sometimes for fun, we order a side of poached chicken to eat with our chicken pho at Pho Ga Mai Anh. It’s served with bouncy yellow skin still intact, its flesh tender and silky. A few finely julienned makrut lime leaves and a side of chilli salt and calamansi lime (to be combined) complete this feast of chicken. A tall glass of iced jasmine tea is all you need now.

Price: đđ

Address: 32 P. Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Image @ a 1 u c a r d

Bit Tet Ngoc Hieu, 52 Le Ngoc Han, Hai Ba Trung District

Ideal for steak and chips, Vietnamese-style…

Bit tet, like banh mi, is a reflection of Vietnam’s ability to take on international influences and seamlessly assimilate them into the cuisine.  

The dish is centred around a thin, semi-tender beef steak, which is marinated with a blend of soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper before being cooked in a laughably, violently hot, cow-shaped cast iron pan that doubles up as a serving dish. A silver bow-cum-hat tops the pan as it arrives at the table before the big reveal. Inside that pan, you’ll also find a sunny side up egg, a few soggy chips and perhaps a tomato, flavours mingling happily.

At Bit Tet Ngoc Hieu, alongside the classic hammered steak and spongy chips, you’ll find a ball of offaly, peppery goodness akin to a faggot in flavour. It’s what marks out this bit tet restaurant as the best in Hanoi. Mop up all of the intermingling egg yolk, meat juices and chilli sauce run-off with plenty of crisp, banh mi bread. Mop that up with icy beers. Leave happy and on foot – don’t drink and drive guys.

Though Ngoc Hieu is a little out of the city centre, there’s also a whole street (Hoe Nhai) dedicated to bit tet within walking distance of the Old Quarter. Result!

Price: đđđ

Address: 52 P. Lê Ngọc Hân, Ngô Thì Nhậm, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Banh Mi Pho Hue, 118 Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung District

Ideal for prosaic, proper banh mi that’s always got a queue of motorbikes…

For us, the most simple banh mi is the best banh mi, allowing the quality of the bread, pate and cold cuts to shine. The ludicrously stacked affairs with a mixed grill’s worth of meat inside, plus mayo, three types of hot sauce, a random papaya salad and erroneous Thai basil that you’ll find in the UK? Those guys are not for us.

For a prosaic, proper banh mi whose popularity is clear from its constant queue of motorbikes, you’ll want to venture away from the Old Quarter, heading north from Hoan Kiem lake and the Old Quarter, and into one of Hai Ba Trung’s main thoroughfares, Pho Hue.

At Banh Mi Pho Hue, it’s a celebration of the simple things. The aunty’s mise en place is as follows… Stacks of warm baguettes. A massive brick of homemade pate. A few slices of Vietnamese pork loaf (essentially spam). A bowl of pork floss. Cucumber pickle. Butter. Dairylea. Chilli sauce. There’s also a pan set-up should you want to add an omelette to your banh mi.

Assemble your desired sandwich from that selection, and eat outside the shophouse leaning against a tree, because the dining area is full of parked motorbikes. Everything feels right in the world.

Price: đ

Address: 118 P. Huế, Bùi Thị Xuân, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Ghe Hap Xuan Xuan, 37 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter)

Ideal for premium grilled seafood on stools

On the periphery of the backpacker part of Hanoi’s Old Quarter (Bia Hoi Corner, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen), you’ll find a few totally alfresco set-ups serving up fresh, delicious seafood late into the night.

At Ghe Hap Xuan Xuan on Hang Giay, but also all along nearby Cau Go street, you’ll see crabs, oysters, blood cockles and huge prawns all piled high on a table. Simply point at what you want, take a seat and get ready for a feast because here is where you’ll find fresh seafood being grilled over hot coals. Served simply, with a calamansi lime, MSG and chilli dipping sauce, this is fresh, cheap and oh so fun. 

Make sure you order some grilled oysters topped with crispy shallots  – the smokey, moody taste of the barbecue certainly does no harm to the saline richness of oysters. In fact, it’s a divine marriage. Then someone, from somewhere, will produce a cold beer as soon as you realise you’re thirsty, and it’s then that you realise you’re in heaven.

Images via Ghẹ Hấp Xuân Xuân 37 Hàng Giầy

Price: đđđđ

Address: 37 P. Hàng Giầy, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam

Pho Cuon Huong Mai, 25 Ngu Xa, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh District

Ideal for a final expression of pho, in Hanoi’s cutest quarter…

Pho cuon offers a unique twist on the traditional pho. Instead of the usual noodle soup, this dish features wide, uncut sheets of rice noodles that are used to wrap a variety of fresh ingredients. The rolls are typically filled with slices of stir-fried beef and fresh herbs, along with crisp lettuce and sometimes julienned vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers. These ingredients are tightly rolled into the rice noodle sheets, creating a neat and portable package ideal for being dipped in a sauce of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar, and chilli 

Ngu Xa, sitting just off Hanoi’s picturesque, idyllic Truc Bach lake, is sometimes referred to as Pho Cuon street, owing to its row of restaurants specialising in the stuff. Bouncing from restaurant to restaurant, drinking beer and ordering plates of this light-as-you-like local delicacy, is one of Hanoi’s greatest nights out. We think we might just part ways here, you know, and take in the scene a while…

Price: đ

Address25 P. Ngũ Xã, Trúc Bạch, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Honourable Mention

Ngo Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter): Known locally as ‘Street Food Alley’, Ngo Dong Xuan is as close as you’ll get to the hawker centres of Malaysia and Singapore in Hanoi, with rows of street food vendors doing their thing here, all in tropical storm-proof surrounds. The aforementioned bun cha, banh tom and banh mi are all found here, as well as a good version of bun oc – snail noodles.

For something a little different, why not check out our rundown of the best pizza in Hanoi next? 

Joseph Gann
Joseph Gann
Chef and food writer, with an interest in mental health and mindfulness

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