Last updated on July 16th, 2019 at 09:28 am
Hanoi is a foodie’s paradise. While I am no stranger to Vietnamese cuisine, having visited Hue, Danang, and Hoi An before, I still found many foods that I hadn’t try before. Plus many amazing restaurants and food experience to boot. Having spent about a week in and out of Hanoi, I was armed with determination to sample as many dishes as possible and learn a few tricks. So now here’s my guide to eating, chilling and cooking your way through Hanoi.
>For what to do and see in Hanoi (especially for first-time visitors), see my post here.
- 1 Cooking and Street food class with Backstreet Academy
- 2 Hanoi restaurants
- 3 Hanoi Bars and Drinks
- 4 Hanoi Cafe and Tea shop
Cooking and Street food class with Backstreet Academy
Like in Yangon, we figured the best way to see the most hidden street food is to join a tour, and a cooking class to learn how to make Vietnamese cuisine seem quintessential! And what’s better than joining a tour that has both?
I was able to learn how to make the famous local dish Bun Cha dish – a noodle and pork dish with dip sauce – with Mrs Hang at her house through Backstreet Academy.
We started with a local market visit, which I personally think is a must do when in Hanoi. Angie, our translator, helped us understand the chit-chats Mrs Hang had with the stall owners. We bought rice noodles, pork shoulder and minced pork, various greens before headed back to Mrs Hang’s home.
First, we got started on slicing the veggies and mixing the sauce. The dip sauce for the noodles is the soul of the whole dish, and the art of mixing it with the right ingredients as well as learning about substitute was useful and fascinating.
What was most amazing is seeing Mrs Hang use a charcoal grill in the kitchen! It is what keeps the authentic taste of the pork patties made from the mince and the pork shoulder, but I think I would have to just use a pan at home.
We also learned how to make the local version of fried spring roll. Although I have to say I much prefer the rice paper spring rolls in central Vietnam as the ones in Hanoi are veggies only and fried. We ended up preparing a feast and I could barely finish my own portion. Mrs Hang also treated us to some local dessert such as fermented rice cake and fruits, and it was hard to keep room in my stomach for food later.
After bidding Mrs Hang goodbye, we continued the food tour with Angie. First stop is to visit one of the most historic coffee shop in Hanoi. Since my sister and I don’t drink coffee, we ended up having their homemade coffee flavoured frozen yogurt as well as a fermented rice one with beautiful purple colour.
We also tried a local street snack made with rice paper crepe, sugar, coconut, and sesame called Bo Pia, then a deep fried fish spring roll wrapped with meat. Our last stop was eating a stir-fried Pho Bo (beef noodle). We had definitely had way too much food, and Angie kindly pointed out some good local spots to try at the end so we can return on our own!
I was hosted for the cooking class but all opinions are my own
There are a lot of restaurants and street food stand in Hanoi, so much so that I think I can spend years there and not eat through all the restaurants. But we all know that not all of them are created equal, so here are some of my favourite from the time that I had:
Ok, you might be a bit confused as to why a pizza place has made it to the top of Hanoi must eat, but its place is well earned! With local farms in Vietnam, Pizza 4P make their own cheese that are mouth-watering. In fact, this place is often so busy that you are recommended to book a table a day ahead.
Address: 24 Ly Quoc Su Street | 2 Ngo Huyen Street
Opening times: 10:00 – 23:00
P.S. there is another Pizza 4P near the west lake as well as other parts of Vietnam
Bun Cha Dac Kim
While I still prefer Mrs Hang’s Bun Cha, I couldn’t very well make it at my hotel so I ended up at Bun cha Dac Kim. They only really serves Bun Cha, and the tables are already equipped with heaps of greens for you to mix in. Their portion sizes are quite generous as well, but there is limited seating inside the shop, so you might end up sitting at the low tables on the street!
Price: 60 000 dong for Bun Cha, but you can pay 80 000 for a set with spring rolls.
Address: 1 Hàng Mành, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Opening times: 9:00 – 21:00
49 Bat Dan – Pho
Don’t even look at other places if you want to eat Pho in Hanoi because no place can compare to 49 Bat Dan Street. Despite there always being a queue, it is worth it especially at the reasonable price of 50,000 dong. The rare beef are perfect, with the soup flavorsome and the noodles just the right texture. They open early in the morning but do a siesta in the afternoon, so plan to go for breakfast or dinner!
Address: 49 Bat Dan, Hanoi
Opening times: 6:00 – 10:00; 18:00 – 20:30
Cha Ca Thang Long
Want to try something a little different from Bun Cha? Cha Ca is the dish to try. Another Hanoi specialty, it’s a mud fish noodle completed with a hot plate where the fish is fried! All the fish bones are removed so it’s kids and bone-weary adults friendly, and the seasoning is just on point. You then mix in peanuts, mint, coriander and fish sauce and eat it with rice noodles.
The restaurant is often busy so expect to wait a little while if you go during peak time. But it’s well worth waiting for!
Address: 19 – 21 – 31 Đường Thành, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, 越南
Opening times: 10;00 – 21:30
Bún cá Sâm Cây Si
Another dish that I hadn’t tried before, Bun Ca means fish noodles, and they are absolutely amazing at Bun ca Sam Cay Si. The fish are fried to crispy deliciousness, and the broth surprised me with the inclusion of pineapple giving it a good sweetness and tartness. It’s a refreshing hot noodle dish that makes it easy to eat even in hot weather. Though not unique to Hanoi, it is a northern Vietnam dish that you should definitely try!
Address: 5 Ngõ Trung Yên, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, 越南
Opening times: 7:00 – 17:00
The perfect place to ease into Vietnamese cuisine, Chopsticks is a more western geared restaurant. It is also great if you are looking for a place with ambiance and clean bathroom since it’s beautifully decorated with friendly staff. I had my first Bun Cha here, and though it’s not as nice as the other two places, their rice-paper spring rolls are fantastic!
Address: 15 Đào Duy Từ, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000越南
Opening times: 12:00 – 0:00
Hanoi Bars and Drinks
The drink prices do reflect the ambiance and the sceneries, though I think it’s worth it for a nice and relaxed evening. I mean, have you gotten a look at this fairy light set up on the tree?
Address: 38 Gia Ngư Street, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 110201
Opening times: 10:00 – 23:30
Mojito Bar & Lounge Restaurant
Have you ever tried Pho Cocktail? Is that even a thing? I was in Hanoi the same time as my favourite Youtuber CupofTJ, who hosted a small meet up at Mojito Bar & Lounge. There, they serve a Pho Mojito that really does taste like a mix of Pho and Mojito, and the way they make it looks like some kind of a fire show.
Tip: the bar is only on the first floor, it’s another one if you go up.
Address: 19 Nguyễn Quang Bích, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Opening times: 17:00 – 0:00
Hanoi Cafe and Tea shop
Hanoi’s coffee and tea culture are widespread. Almost every cafe and tea shop is equipped with an abundance of seatings and WiFi, optimal for those who want to rest their legs and connect online. After asking a local – Angie from Backstreet Academy – she told us that Hanoian loves to chillax, hence it’s almost customary for each cafe or tea house to have seating or else no one would go!
Since I was in Hanoi for an extended period of time, I ended up visiting quite a few places to chill and to do some work, and below are some of my favourite:
Con Ca Phe
The Starbucks of Hanoi, Con Ca Phe is a local chain that has the cutest deep green shop front. With dozens of locations, it’s a sure choice and they usually have plenty of places for you to sit!
You can see a list of their locations here.
Tranquil Books & Coffee
True to its name, Tranquil Books & Coffee is a serene and secluded spot not too far from the Mojito Lounge & Bar. It’s the absolute best place to work – thanks MilesofSmiles for the recommendation – since they have outlets inside and out, and for UK plugs, too!
They serve a variety of coffee and there is a wide selection of books that you can read. They also run events, too, written on a blackboard outside the shop.
I spent two mornings working there outside and it was quite lovely!
Note: if you do choose to sit outside, there might be smokers
Address: 5 Nguyễn Quang Bích, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Opening times: 8:00 – 23:00
Lutulata Desserts & Drinks
Want to go somewhere more off the beaten path? Try Lutulata! It’s so hidden that I wouldn’t even spot it if I wasn’t already looking for it. I went for desserts, but found out that they have decent WiFi and outlet, which means it’d be perfect to work in, too!
Their Vietnamese sweet soup is very affordable at around 35,000 dong each, and come with a huge bowl of ice which was perfect for the hot weather!
It was a bit of a shame that there was construction going on next door, but hopefully, it’ll end soon!
Address: 39 Hàng Cót, Hàng Mã, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Opening times: 8:00 – 23:00
The Note Coffee
With thousands of notes plastered over almost every surface in the cafe, the Note Coffee is at a prime location just across from Hoam Kiem Lake and a cute place to chill. With good WiFi and outlet, it’s also a place where you can work.
The only drawback of this place is that the notes aren’t exactly the cleanest, so if that’s something that bothers you, you might not want to visit.
Address: 64 Lương Văn Can, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Opening times: 6:30 – 23:00
It’s not truly a post on cafe and tea houses if I don’t include some bubble tea places. Unlike the ones in Hong Kong, their Vietnamese counterparts have plenty of seatings and WiFi too! Royal Tea is one of my favourite in Hong Kong but they only have one store there, whereas Hanoi has a few dozens. Their cheese cap tea is the best and I naturally stopped by one to have some!
You can find a list of their addresses here.
Like Con Ca Phe, ShareTea has their own sets of decoration across all the shops and their balcony are the cutest! I saw one across from St Joseph’s Cathedral and for once I actually make it back there to do some work as I had promised myself!
There are fewer outlets, but the view is great.
You can find a list of their addresses here