Hi guys, today I will talk about my must-try-food in my favorite city’s most famous area which is also my hometown. A day is not enough for exploring and understanding all the delicious foods of this more than thousand-year old city but I hope that this blog will be useful for you if you just have a short time to enjoy Hanoi.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter has 36 ancient streets, after the 36 streets or guilds that used to make up the urban area of the city. The most famous trait of the Old Quarter is its areas dedicated to one specific trade or guild. Craftsmen from villages around the city used to gather in one area of their guild to sell their wares to merchants. The crafts or guilds of each area gave the names to the streets of the quarter, so that most streets acquired names starting with “hang” (“wares”), such as Hàng Bún street (” rice noodles street”) and Hàng Đào street (“peach street”).
Several of the streets are still specialized in the trade that gave them their names. Others still specialize in one specific trade, but a different one from their traditional specialty — such as Hàng Buồm street (“sails street”) which has become dominated by Vietnamese cakes and candy nowadays.
I would recommend you to book a hotel in this area since it’s very convenient to get around just by walking and most of all; almost all of Hanoi’s best cuisine is located in this area. Although the food culture of Vietnam is changing every day because of the customer’s habit, there are still many local restaurants as well as local vendors that are still super crowded. Thanks to their amazing delicious secret recipes that have been transferred across many generations, the younger generations can still experience the authentic taste of all the traditional foods. When we talk about Vietnamese food in general or Hanoi cuisine specifically, it is all about the balance of the dish. It’s like a classical song with all the instruments that make a perfect harmony. You can feel the sweetness from the bones of the broth, the saltiness of the fish sauce, the sourness of lime or a bit of spice from the fresh chili. All the flavors are dancing on your tongue and they make you miss it very soon after you finish it.
I think that everyone has been heard of Vietnamese Pho. When we talk about Vietnamese cuisine, we must talk about Pho. Just like ramen or soba, there are many restaurants that say they make the authentic Pho in Vietnam but after trying many restaurants, I would like to say Pho in Hanoi is the best and most authentic taste that you could search for. People eat Pho in the morning, at lunch or evening. You can have it anytime. There are a lot of ways to eat Pho but the best way is to enjoy it is with a little bit of fresh lime juice and some fresh chili. Talking about Pho, it’s all about the freshness and the balance of the flavor. When I went back to Hanoi for a few days after a long time, Pho is the first thing that I thought of (actually Pho was on my mind for a few days before I even went to the airport). One thing I can say is never have Pho in the airport, since it does not taste like the real one. There’re many good ones in Hanoi but these days, I believe that the restaurant shown below is the one that has the best taste of the real Pho. They have all the balance of the broth with the freshness of the noodles, beef and also the vegetables in one bowl. Especially they also have the good Quay, which is necessary for this dish. Put a bit fresh chili and a few drops of lime, then have a gulp of noodles, beef and taste some broth. This is the best way to start your day every day of the year. This restaurant usually runs out of all of their ingredients before lunch so I suggested that you should come from early morning to have the best kinds of beef that you want.
How to enjoy: Taste the broth, fix with lime juice or vinegar, chili sauce or fresh chili.
Price: ~250 yen or more, depending on which part of the beef you choose.
Recommend place: Phở Tuyết, 12 Hàng Than, Ba Đình, Hà Nội
The second dish that I want to introduce is called “Bun cha”. Normally I prefer to eat this one at home, which is made by my mom. However, making this one is very hard and tiring so sometimes I still have this one outside. After trying “Bun cha” in some restaurants, I realized that it’s the best to have it at the local vendors. The best aspect of Vietnamese food is you always can enjoy the food while provide to your body enough nutrition. “Bun cha” includes rice noodles, grilled pork, vegetables and delicious sauce. The sauce and the pork taste decide a lot of the flavor. I don’t recommend having this dish in a restaurant because they don’t make the grilled pork as fresh as the local vendors. The pork must be eaten immediately after being grilled by the chef. It can’t be too raw neither too cooked. The sauce is very important since it can decide the whole flavor of the dish.
How to enjoy: Taste sauce: fix it with some vinegar or chili (more garlic if you prefer garlic). Put some noodles and vegetables into your bowl then dip them into the sauce. Take one gulp with everything (pork, noodles and vegetables)
Price: ~250 yen
Recommend place: 74 Hàng Quạt, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội.
The last one that I want to introduce today is Banh-mi. Banh mi is a typical Vietnamese sandwich is a fusion of meats and vegetables from native Vietnamese cuisine such as chả lụa (pork sausage), coriander leaf (cilantro), cucumber, pickled carrots, and pickled daikon combined with condiments from French cuisine such as pâté, along with chili and mayonnaise. However, a wide variety of popular fillings are used, from xíu mại to ice cream. In Vietnam, sandwiches are typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack. The Oxford Dictionary has already put Banh-mi as an English word: “a Vietnamese sandwich on a crisp baguette spread with mayonnaise, typically containing pork or chicken and pâté, with pickled vegetables, cucumber, and cilantro.” Banh mi is everywhere in Vietnam with a lot of options. However, if you want to try the most common one in Vietnam, just ask them for a full-option version of Banh mi (Thập cẩm). They will put everything they can onto the tiny bread so you can try all at once. I recommend that you ask the chef to give you some chili sauce to make the Banh mi more perfect.
How to enjoy: Open your mouth as wide as you can and… eat them all.
Place: Bánh mì, 2-4 Hàng Chuối or 51 Trần Xuân Soạn.
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope that you can enjoy them all someday! If you need any more information, please come and join the Vietnamese event later which will be held by the Waseda ICC ^^~~~
S.R. (Student Staff Leader)