FOMO? 11 Ultimate Hanoi Street Food For Your First Visit

Regulus and his travel buddies having pho at Honai street

There are thousands of Hanoi street food recommendations online. As a first-time Vietnam visitor, I felt very confused and even anxious about missing out. There are hundreds of Honai street food in both Vietnamese and English. However, I only had less than a week in Hanoi with my paid annual leave.

I am sure you don’t want the FOMO occupying your paid vacation in Hanoi as well. In that, I will be listing out a full-day menu structure with 11 Hanoi Steet Food. From breakfast to dinner, from salty to sweet with price, the walkthrough will enable you to have the best street food experience in Hanoi in a day. Of course, if you are staying in Hanoi for 3 days, 5 days, or even longer, you can take your time for each of them.

Hanoi in the morning. Vendors startpreparing for Hanoi street food
Morning in Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi Street Food For Breakfast

Starting around 6 AM or even earlier, as the sun rises over the city’s lakes and temples, morning activity begins to stir. In small alleys and on major boulevards, street vendors start setting up carts and stations to offer delicious Vietnamese locals. A good chance for you to grab the Hanoi local tastes.

The most local option for you is to queue up for a morning pho like other Vietnamese.  Along with the pho, you could also have a quay and trung vit lon. Then depending on your Hanoi itinerary, I recommend you to end the morning with a Vietnamese egg coffee.

Pho the best Honai Street Food that first visitors must try
A morning Pho at Honai

1. Phở

Pho is one of Vietnam’s most iconic dishes and is considered a national staple. Even if you know nothing about Vietnam or Hanoi at all, you will know Pho. It is also a daily necessity for every Vietnamese and a street food that you cannot miss.

Do not tell anyone you have been to Vietnam if you have not taken a bowl.

Pho originated in northern Vietnam but is now available everywhere across the nation. At its simplest, it contains a light, clear broth, rice noodles called banh pho, meat (usually beef or chicken), and fresh herbs.

Beef pho is called pho bo and chicken pho is pho ga. Pho is very price-friendly in Vietnam ranging from VND 15,000 to VND 60,000 (~ 0.6 USD – 2.5 USD).  Most locals would also order a portion of quay for their breakfast.

Despite putting Pho in breakfast recommendations, you could have it anytime during the day.

Quay the fried dough stick in Vietnamese. Best for pairing with Pho.
Fried Dough Stick in Vietnam

2. Quẩy (Fried Dough Stick)

The best buddy of Pho is Quay in Vietnam. Quay is fried dough sticks. The fried dough has a crispy outer shell protecting a pillowy inside that creates an indulgent texture. Preparation involves shaping dough into long thin strips before dropping them into hot oil. Once golden brown, the fried Quay achieves the perfect contrast of flavors – a crunchy coating shielding an airy middle.

Although it originates from the “Yutiao” from China, it is now one of the most popular local foods in Vietnam. You will usually find them in most of the Pho restaurants. The locals love to consume them with Pho. By dipping the crispy fried dough stick to the soup of Pho, it absorbs the essence and delivers a new experience.

As a side dish for Pho, Quay’s price ranges from VND 5,000 to VND 20,000 ( ~ 0.2 – 0.8 USD). Together, both Hanoi street food forms the most typical local morning experience.

Trung Vit Lon the Vietnamese fertilized duck egg. An exotic Honai street food only available in the morning.
Vietnamese Fertilized Duck Egg

3. Trứng Vịt Lộn (Fertilized Duck Eggs)

Trứng vịt lộn means fertilized duck eggs. It is also a very unique Vietnamese street food. Local vendors purchase the freshly laid eggs and allow them to briefly gestate for around two weeks. During this period, the yolk and albumen take on an increasingly rich and gamey flavor.

Throughout Vietnam, trung vit lon is traditionally enjoyed with salt, pepper, and rau ram, an herb bearing notes of mint, coriander, and cilantro. Interesting fact for you as a first-time traveler in Hanoi, trung vit lons are usually not available in restaurants. Instead, it is only (or mainly) available at street vendors.

So if you are interested in looking for this exotic Hanoi street food. I would recommend you to learn about the Vietnamese pronunciation online (external link).  Most of the Hanoi hawkers do not speak good English. Thus, it took me some time to get this local street food during my 5 days in Hanoi.

Learning from the locals, trung vit lon is only available in the morning. So it is a must-try street good for your morning in Hanoi. Again the price is super wallet-friendly at around VND 10,000 to VND 20,000 (~USD 0.4 – 0.8) per egg.

Cà Phê Trứng (Vietnamese Egg Coffee)  near the Honai train street. Best recommended coffee amongst Honai street food
Vietnamese Egg Coffee

4. Cà Phê Trứng (Vietnamese Egg Coffee)

Ca Phe Trung, egg coffee is a traditional beverage that originated in Hanoi’s coffee shops. It is made with simple ingredients – fresh chicken egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, and robusta coffee. The egg cream is then poured into a small ceramic cup. Hot coffee is slowly poured into the cup, passing through the foamy egg mixture. This creates an aromatic layer of egg foam that floats atop the dark coffee.

While some coffee shops may also offer an iced egg version. I recommend enjoying the hot one as the foamy egg layer is the main point of it. If pho is the most popular Hanoi street food then Vietnamese egg coffee is the best Hanoi street coffee or drink. The price varies from VND 30,000 to VND 60,000 (~ USD 1.25 – USD 2.5) for a cup of egg coffee.

The best place to enjoy egg coffee is at the train street Hanoi Vietnam. You can take a sip of the hot Vietnamese egg coffee while waiting for the train to pass by.

Hanoi Street Food For Lunch

Around 11 am, the streets of Hanoi begin filling with locals preparing for the bustling lunch rush. If you are a first-time traveler to Hanoi like me, you would have spent your mornings with multiple attractions. After digesting the recommended Hanoi street food in the morning, let’s take a look at what we have for lunch.

Instead of going for Pho again or Banh mi (Vietnamese Hot Dog), we would start with Pho Cuon and then Bun Cha (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles) for the main. After that, we will also recommend a tasty dessert, a coffee drink, and some juicy snacks.

Pho Cuon,Vietnamese Beef Rice Rolls
Pho Cuon, Vietnamese Beef Rice Rolls

5. Phở Cuốn (Vietnamese Beef Rice Rolls)

Pho Cuon (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Rolls) is a unique appetizer dish originating from the streets of Hanoi. While pho is traditionally a hearty noodle soup, pho cuon reimagines the classic dish in a lighter, portable roll form ideal for snacking. Each roll contains a large portion of minced beef with local lettuce.

As a meat-love in a carbs-intensive Country like Vietnam, I took almost 20 rolls due to its richness in protein and refreshing taste.  The price is also very reasonable at around 12,000 VND per roll (~ USD 0.5). In general, the more you order the lower the price would be.

Bun Cha & Deep-fried Spring Roll for Honai Street Food
Bun Cha & Deep-fried Spring Roll

6. Bún Chả (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles)

Bun Cha is another popular main street food in Hanoi Vietnam. Although it’s less phenomenal than Pho, it is a must-eat Hanoi street food. Bun cha consists of rice vermicelli served with grilled pork patties, fresh herbs, and a vibrant fish sauce dressing. You would expect two bowls for each serving of Bun Cha. The first one is for the thin rice noodles. And the second one is for the thinly sliced grilled pork sausage marinated in a mixture of spices including fresh lemongrass, chilies, and ginger.

Xíu Mại (deep-fried shrimp or pork) is also a good pair with Bun Cha. Especially, both of them are a perfect fit with fish or chili sauces. Unlike Pho, Bun Cha usually comes with higher prices ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 (~ USD 2.1 – 3.3). Despite that, the price is still very wallet-friendly for first-time Hanoi travelers like us.

Regulus & his wife having Đậu Hũ / Tào Phớ by CoVang (Vietnamese Brand Tofu Pudding)
Vietnamese Brand Tofu Pudding

7. Đậu Hũ / Tào Phớ by CoVang (Vietnamese Brand Tofu Pudding)

A desert after the Bun Cha? Let’s give a try to Đậu Hũ or Tào Phớ. Đậu Hũ, commonly known as Tào Phớ, is a traditional Vietnamese sweet tofu pudding. In particular, I would recommend you to purchase from CoVang a Vietnamese brand specializing in Tofu Pudding since 2017. You would find a lot of locals, especially ladies occupying the CoVang shop in Hanoi after lunchtime.

Other than their signature original flavor in sweet water, you can also order other combinations with ginger or coconut. Furthermore, you would also want to add some toppings such as adzuki beans, sticky rice bubbles, and lotus seeds.

The cost for a serving of CoVang Tao Pho is around VND 15,000 – 25,000 (~ USD 0.6 – 1) depending on the flavor. You can have an additional topping for around VND 5,000 (~ USD 0.2).

Cà Phê Cốt  (Vietnamese Coconut Coffee) at train street
Vietnamese Coconut Coffee

8. Cà Phê Cốt  (Vietnamese Coconut Coffee)

A good afternoon would not end without a good coffee in Vietnam. Other than the Vietnamese egg coffee, you should also have a cup of Ca Phe Dua, Vietnamese coconut coffee.

Vietnamese Coconut Coffee is a deliciously unique beverage that blends Vietnam’s coffee tradition with tropical coconut juice. Mixing with condensed milk highlights the coconut creaminess with the bitter local coffee. Unlike egg coffee, coconut coffee tastes great in both hot and iced. However, I would recommend iced coconut coffee during the hot summer of Hanoi.

Depending on the café, the price could range from 30,000 – 80,000 VND (USD 1.2 – 3.3). It is relatively pricer at local standard but is worth a try.

Honai Night with local vendors for street food
Honai at night

Hanoi Street Food For Dinner

As the sun sets over the city’s iconic Hoan Kiem Lake. You will see the local vendors setting up their stores for the dinner time. You will find the street starting to get crowded with tourists and locals. You can start your Hanoi street food hunt for your dinner. Given, that we already have various and heartful food earlier, we would go simple with some snacks and a main.

Honai Street Food at night. Xiên Gà / Xiên Heo (Grilled Chicken Or Pork Skewer)
Grilled Chicken or Pork Skewer

9. Xiên Gà / Xiên Heo (Grilled Chicken Or Pork Skewer)

Although, it is not exclusive to Hanoi or Vietnam. Xien Ga and Xieo Heo, grilled chicken and pork skewers are a must for your Hanoi street food journey. Their origins date back to the 1930s when street vendors would grill and sell skewered meat to passersby. Even then, locals considered them the perfect finger food to enjoy whilst exploring the city by night.

The meats are very juicy marinated with local fish sauce, sugar, and garlic. Near the skewer stalls, you could smell the sizzling aromas of meat in action. And trust me the hardest part in the Hanoi street food hunting is the need to wait for the grilling process.

A skewer of chicken or pork is usually around VND 10,000 (~ USD 0.4). You should at least order 10 skewers each time to avoid enduring the wait for grilling. Although it only takes a couple of minutes, it feels forever with all the aromas.

Ốc Luộc  (Vietnamese Snail Dish) for Honai Street Food at night
Vietnamese Snail Dish

10. Ốc Luộc  (Vietnamese Snail Dish)

A direct translation of Oc Luoc is “snail vermicelli soup”. It is also one of the exotic street foods in Hanoi. Well, not everyone appreciates the texture of it but at least it is a local experience.

Typically, you can expect a small plate of seasoned snails to pick and slurp out of their shells. The snails offer a unique texture amidst the other components – like tough, bouncy chicken or chewy rubber. You may also take the snails with local fish sauce, lime, and dried spices.

There are small and big snails available which cost around 60,000 VND (~USD 2.5) and 80,000 VND (~ USD 4.1) respectively. If you are a snail-lover, you should have both. If you are just looking to add a new experience in Hanoi, the small ones shall be sufficient.

Mỳ gà tần (Vietnam Chicken Soup With Noodle) , Honai street food at night
Vietnam Chicken Soup With Noodle

11. Mỳ gà tần (Vietnam Chicken Soup With Noodle)

Here comes the final recommended Hanoi street food – My Ga Tans, Vietnam chicken soup with noodles. Although it may not have the same popularity as Pho or Bun Cha, it is a renowned local main dish.

It employs a light broth made from poaching chicken (usually black chicken), mugwort, and other woodland herbs. This simple recipe imparts a wealth of nutrients to aid recovery from illness or replenish the body on chilly days.

The medicinal soup would usually be served with instant noodles for around VND 30,000 (~ 1.2). Additionally, you can also top off your soup with fertilized chicken eggs for around VND 15,000 ( ~ USD 0.6). It is a great lifesaver during the rainy and cold season in Hanoi.

Summing Up The Hanoi Street Food Itinerary

If you were to follow the full-day Hanoi street food itinerary as listed above, you can expect to spend around 300,000 VND (~12 USD) from breakfast to dinner. I am sure you already know how affordable Hanoi street foods are.

Of course, I did not include a lot of other street foods in Hanoi. However, for first-time visitors sampling these 11 Vietnamese dishes shall be comprehensive enough. These 11 Hanoi street foods represent the full spectrum of Vietnamese cuisine – from comforting classics like pho and bun cha to unique delicacies like fertilized duck eggs and snails.

It hits all the tastes ranging from light and refreshing in the morning, to heartier textures and bolder flavors at lunch and dinner. Your menus include savory broths and noodle salads, sweet desserts, and coffee-based drinks.

Best of all, this affordable culinary adventure is the perfect supplement to sightseeing around the city. You can use them as mini-checkpoints for your itinerary in Hanoi. In short, with this Hanoi street food guide, you do not need to fear missing out on your first visit to Hanoi!

Regulus K

A budget travel blogger passionate about exploring different destinations worldwide, while balancing a regular 9-to-5 job.

1 Comment

  1. […] from street food and local restaurants to fine dining. To experience the local culture, I would try Hanoi Street food. Especially, the area near Hona Kiem Lake will start to get busy with local vendors at […]

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