Food on Foot: A Tasty Adventure in Hanoi

July 16, 2013 ASEAN Backpacking

Lonely Planet lists the Vietnam street food tour as the best walking tour for globetrotting foodies. We're glad we included a guided walking tour in the itinerary of our recent Indochina backpacking trip.

We booked our tour with Vietnam Awesome Travel, which received great reviews on TripAdvisor. Our tour guide was Trang, whose infectious energy was exactly what we needed after a full day of exploring Hanoi.

She began by saying, 'Sidewalks are for everything - parking, eating, cooking, except walking.' With that, we began exploring the streets of Hanoi for the best food finds.

The first stop was this place that serves Mien Tron

Dong Thinh
87 Hang Dieu

Mien Tron is a flavorful combination of Vietnamese mint, cucumber, vermicelli, bean sprout, and crunchy eel. Served with soup, it is meant to be enjoyed separately, not combined. Calamansi and chili were also available to enhance the flavors.

What can I say? Ngon! Ngon means delicious.

Trang explains that the best food in Hanoi is family food or street food. The families or shop owners mostly live upstairs and are assisted by relatives from the province.

After that, we walked to our next stop, where we had ugly fruit, snowy ball cake, or floating cake, along with sugarcane juice. Snowy balls are very much similar to Filipinos' palitaw.

Nuoc Mia
77 Hang Dieu

Our next stop was southern style beef. 

Bun Bo Nam Bo
67 Hang dieu

Bun Bo is beef noodle, which has flat noodles and fried beef cooked for long hours with sauce, no soup. It also has lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, nuts, and shallots. Vinegar and chili were served on the side.

Again, ngon!

Then, we went to the Countryside Cafe and Restaurant, which serves exotic dishes.

29 Bat Dan

We had frogs sautéed with roasted rice, betel leaf, garlic, shallots, chili, and salt. They were delicious, and despite my apprehensions about eating frogs, I liked it. 

There were guys having beer and cigarettes on the street. Couldn't resist. I ordered beer.

I was already full after those 4 stops, but the next was just irresistible -- barbeque chicken.

I must admit, Hanoi's chicken is incredibly good. It's tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor.

For first-time Hanoi tourists, the streets can seem a bit chaotic and difficult to navigate. Still, Trang taught us that most Hanoi streets are named after their specialization. My eyes must have lit up when she said our next stop was ... Beer Street. I didn't care that we passed through a dark alleyway just to get there.

She taught us how to say cheers. 

We begin by counting ...
Then we say Zo and lift our bottles or glasses.

Then, we count again ...
Then say Uong and drink!

That was fun. Anyway, I came armed with a huge appetite, but after Beer Street, I thought I would not be interested in food anymore. Well, at least for that night. But I was wrong.

Trang saved the best for last.

25 Hang Bac

We made our own summer roll with snakehead fish marinated with fermented rice, shrimp paste, galangal, and turmeric. It was kept in the fridge for one to two hours, then grilled with dill and onion. We added cucumber, carrots, greens (lettuce, coriander, basil), noodles, and purple mint. This was dipped in nuoc cham, which was made with fish sauce, vinegar, fresh water, sugar, chili, and garlic.

One word to describe the experience was happy, and so we ended the tour with Happy Water or Ruou dua, which is rice left to ferment inside a coconut.

It was truly our tastiest day in Hanoi. This is not only a gastronomic delight but also a budget-friendly option compared to exploring on your own.

Thanks to Trang and Vietnam Awesome Travel!

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