The Hanoi Street Food Guide | Expedia Australia Travel Blog

The Hanoi Street Food Guide

The Hanoi Street Food Guide

If you’re looking to save a little money for extracurricular activities while in Hanoi, turning to street vendors is a cost-effective solution. It’s been said that street food portions are too small for an entire day’s worth of nutrition. This would be true by your standard 3-meals-a-day model, but what if you tossed that notion aside and enjoyed up to, say, 5 smaller meals? Now we’re talking nutritional science, economic thinking, and local exploration on your foodie adventure.

A renowned place to test this hypothesis is Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Street food here is abundant, downright tasty, and inexpensive – dishes usually range from 3 to 5,000 dong (mere cents). Here are a few suggestions to stretch your fare.

Breakfast: Pho

If you’ve partaken at all in the Hanoi nightlife or are suffering from jet lag, you might be feeling a bit drowsy in the morning. A phenomenal remedy for both is to fill your belly with a brothy concoction such as pho. This noodle soup provides the carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins you need to walk about wide-eyed through the gorgeous Old Quarter and once again enjoy your surroundings. It’s a classic Vietnamese breakfast, and you won’t regret blearily ambling down the street for it.

Brunch: Xôi xéo

So, you’ve had breakfast but by now you’re feeling like you could use something a little more substantial. Chances are you’ll encounter this savory dish in almost every outdoor market—there are even Old Quarter restaurants solely dedicated to this local favorite. Xôi xéo is simply sticky rice topped with ground mung beans and fried onions. Sometimes it’s served with eggs or even steamed chicken breast. The meal is filling and good any time of day—but many locals have it for breakfast, lunch, or in your case, brunch.

Lunch: Bánh cuốn

It’s lunchtime now, or a little after if you mustered the energy for a few activities. If you’ve ventured outside the Old Quarter to see a pagoda, tour a palace, or even enjoy a cycling ride, refueling is definitely in order. The French influence on Vietnamese cuisine is apparent in this dish, as it’s essentially a steamed rice-flour crepe stuffed with pork, wood ear mushrooms, and minced shallots, served alongside a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, and lime. Most street chefs make this dish right out in the open – or even at the doors of several restaurants. So if you see steam rising ahead of you, it’s (probably) not a mirage, it’s lunch.

Afternoon snack: Coffee

Now it’s time for a little caffeine. Coffee in Vietnam is a treat you’ll remember. The bean has been a major source of income for the country since the early 20th century, and it’s something farmers are rightly proud of. There are three ways coffee is typically served that we recommend you try – maybe not all at once!

Café nau is coffee with condensed milk. It’s often brewed and served in single-cup filters. It’s sweet, aromatic, and strong. Café den is black coffee. Simple, elegant. No explanation necessary. And finally, café trung is coffee with egg. Egg coffee is, trust us, a delicious treat. It’s creamy, frothy, and glorious – made simply with a whipped egg and condensed milk.

While not technically street foo, sipping any of the above coffees is a great way to beat the afternoon heat. And if you’re still feeling peckish, grab a banh mi sandwich for a quick injection of carbs, pork (or tofu or chicken), cilantro, and lime to carry you to dinner. This popular sandwich can be found on almost any street.


You’ve made it to your final meal of the day with plenty of money left to spend on it. If you want to complete your street food challenge, there’s plenty to try, but if you’re looking for a restaurant experience, you can sit down to a four or five course meal that will have you full till breakfast and cost about 100,000 dong (AUD$6 dollars!) or less.

If you’re keen to find out what else there is to do in Hanoi, check out our activities.

Next post Riding the waves of Waikiki in an Outrigger Canoe

Previous post The Groom's Guide to KL

Lisa Perkovic

About the Author Lisa Perkovic

Related Posts