We went with Hanoi Street Food Tour to get access to the the Old Quarter’s hidden street food unfamiliar to tourists. This article includes the dishes we tried and our TOP 3 FAVOURITES. If you’re visiting the city, one thing you shouldn’t miss doing is a street food tour in Hanoi.
Why should you join a street food tour?
The number 1 thing you should be doing when traveling to new places is to join a food tour. And here’s why:
1. No time and money wasted because you get to try all the local foods at once. No more roaming in circles and ending up not liking what you got.
2. A quick tour of the city as you walk along in search for food is an added bonus.
3. It’s free to ask your food tour guide questions unrelated to food as well, because locals are always glad to introduce their culture to you.
And that’s exactly what we did upon arrival in Hanoi.
STREET FOOD TOUR IN HANOI
We joined a day food tour with Hanoi Street Food Tour. They’re well known in the area and their site always pops up first when you search Hanoi food tour online. For just USD 20 per person (check their website for exact rates for the tours), here’s what you get:
- a variety of 10 dishes on average
- a knowledgeable English speaking tour guide
- 3-4 hours of non-stop eating, walking, and talking
- option to do the tour on a scooter but corresponding charges apply
- private or group tours, depending on availability
- a copy of all the dishes, both in English and Vietnamese, after the tour so you know what to order on your own in the days to come
- extra info about Vietnamese local ingredients and how to make the dishes upon request
Now that we know the basics, let’s talk FOOD.
As we are not food experts, we will try to describe each dish in the most relatable way. Here goes.
BÚN CHẢ / grilled pork noodles
A Bún chả meal is served to you in separate plates. You add the noodles in the kind of sweet and sour soup, put in as much veggies as you want from an assorted veggie basket, top with chilli. There are grilled meatballs in the soup and garnished with green papaya and carrots which is a perfect combination if you ask us.
NỘM BÒ / dried beef salad
It’s similar to Thai papaya salad but not quite. For us, the salad didn’t really go well with the dried beef topping and the flavor of the whole dish itself was quite bland. We love peanuts so we did enjoy that bit but if peanuts weren’t present, we would have not liked anything about this dish. Just being honest here. 🙂
BÁNH CUỐN / steamed pancakes
This was quite okay, similar to Cheong Fun which is a Cantonese dish. A rice batter is steamed which turns into rice sheets, mushrooms and minced pork are added, then rolled. We liked the dried scallions garnish but with a little fish sauce to dip in, it made everything salty. Perhaps just chilli would be better.
BÁNH GỐI and BIA HƠI HÀ NỘI / assorted fried dumplings and Hanoi beer
Anything fried paired with cold beer though unhealthy, is good in all ways. We liked the sweet glutinous rice ball covered with sesame seeds best. The rest was similar to normal friend dumplings or rolls.
BÚN RIÊU / crab noodle soup
A definite must-try when in Hanoi. We didn’t think there was some kind of alternative to beef when we talk about Vietnamese noodle soups and there was only 1 shop that we came across that sold this. When we proceeded to travel down south to Phu Quoc Island though, Crab Noodle Soup was sold everywhere. Ian liked this dish but we still both prefer Phở Bò (beef noodle soup).
PHỞ CUỐN / fresh rice noodle rolls
Similar to spring rolls, there was a variety of different toppings put in a roll of Phở Cuốn having pineapple as the most unique. We liked the variety but it’s hard to find this kind of fresh roll in Hanoi. If you want to have this though, write it down and let your tour guide know. They will adjust the food line up for you.
BÁNH MÌ / baguette
Everyone knows what a Bánh Mì is. It is everywhere in Hanoi but the best ones are hard to find. Research online which specific shop you’d want to go to and let your guide bring you there. The best ones are the absolute tastiest while others taste home-made.
CÀ PHÊ TRỨNG / egg coffee
Known as Liquid Tiramisu to other people, you shouldn’t leave Hanoi without trying a cup of Egg Coffee. We did try but because we aren’t coffee lovers, we didn’t quite understand what the experience should be like. It’s not cold nor hot, and with a creamy melted ice cream kind of consistency, we aren’t sure what to feel about it. Not to worry though, a lot of first timers really like it. I guess we’re the odd ones out.
CHÈ XOÀI / mango pudding
Milk, pudding, and mangoes, served cold. What’s not to like? Not a common dessert to be found in Old Quarter, Hanoi but it’s a refreshing end to our food tour which we did enjoy.
Here’s our TOP 3 with 1 being the favorite:
3. BÁNH MÌ – I know it’s just a standard baguette sandwich but you don’t know the amazing sauces they put in there. Complete with veggies and different fillings, we could eat this for days. Our personal favorite is Char Siew (Chinese BBQ pork) and is highly recommended for you guys too!
2. BÚN CHẢ – 99.9% everyone’s favorite. It’s everywhere in Hanoi but almost couldn’t be found elsewhere. The sauce is a mixture of sugar, fish sauce, water, green papaya, carrots, and garlic to your liking. The bbq pork is sweet, with added greens and noodles, and the perfect amount of chilli, whew! A lot of flavors mixed into a dish but all in the right way.
1. BÁNH RÁN – To tell you honestly, it was quite a surprise to us too! Ian ranked this number 1 because his personal favorite snack everywhere is Buchi. In the Philippine setting, it’s the exact counterpart of a Bánh Rán. You may not find this in the list above but it’s actually included in the Bánh Gối assorted dumplings group, which we mentioned as deep fried glutinous sticky rice balls.
If you like the service, give them a review.
One thing we can do to help tour operators in Hanoi is to give them a review via Trip Advisor. We often get asked to write reviews for services because it seems that a big chunk of bookings are gotten from Trip Advisor, especially in Vietnam. If you would want to help the actual person who did the tour for you, a mention of his/her name would even be better. A lot of these guides are only doing part-time jobs and would only get bookings if they are specifically requested for so this small effort with help them greatly.
More info about Hanoi Street Food Tour:
- Pay only at their office at 74 Hang Bac St., Old Quarter, Hanoi.
- International phone line : + 84 966 960 188 – Vietnam phone line : 0966 960 188
- There are different timings throughout the day for Group Tours.
- Timing for private tours are very flexible and can be discussed with them.
100% payment will be refunded if you are not happy with their services.