Discovering where to eat in Hanoi is an exercise for the senses. Listen for crowds at popular eateries serving local favourites. Inhale the scent of fresh ingredients combined with well-rounded flavours. Bun Cha is a popular pork dish, but whatever you order, expect plenty of noodles. In need of a coffee fix? Hanoi won’t disappoint as Vietnamese coffee is everywhere.
Apart from traditional Vietnamese fare, the Hanoi dining scene also boasts Chinese and French dining as these countries have played a significant role in Vietnam's history. You'll see great examples of their cuisine as well as fusion food in Hanoi. Take a trip to Hoan Kiem Lake for restaurants aplenty, or the Old Quarter for market food and street stalls.
Indulge in fine-dining in the French Quarter. This Hanoi restaurant precinct offers bistros and restaurants with standout dishes hailing primarily from France – but don’t be surprised if you spot other European and American dishes on these menus too. A city specialty is the cha ca (fish fillet with turmeric and a variety of spices). Alternatively, head to the Old Quarter and you’ll find it being served in small eateries alongside other delicious dishes.
No trip to Vietnam is complete without having a bowl of pho - rice noodles in a flavour-packed broth topped with meat and herbs, for breakfast. Seek out one at Hanoi’s biggest market, Dong Xuan. On weekends, head to the night market in the Old Quarter to taste fresh and fried street food while shopping for souvenirs.
The simplest way to enjoy Hanoi's nightlife is to sip draft beer (bia hoi) while sitting on plastic chairs in the street. Head straight to Bia Hoi Junction to get several cheap pints with locals and foreigners alike. Hanoi's most popular bars, pubs and nightclubs can also be found in the West Lake or Hoan Kiem districts.
A legacy of the country's French Colonial past, Vietnamese coffee (ca phe) has a specific preparation process that results in a distinct flavour. Hot water is poured over coarse grounds sitting inside a metal drip filter (phin). Drop by drop, coffee trickles out into a strong brew that's often sweetened with condensed milk. Enjoy it on ice to cope with the tropical heat.