Top 4 foods you must try in Hanoi

Number 1: Cha Ca La Vong

The 130 year old restaurant at 14 Cha Ca Street has been offering food lovers a mixture of natural and agricultural ingredients. This place is often a must-not-miss address in any tourist’s guidebook. The restaurant looks bright but noisy, and there are many communal tables in the room. Once people are seated on chairs, little charcoal burners, a skillet of fish, green onions and some other types of herbs are laid out. With a lot of components, you may ask yourselves where you would start when the kitchen staff asks you to do it yourself.

readmore: Top 4 foods you must try in Hanoi

Well, it is not as difficult as you think. Once all necessary things are ready, the cooking is fast, and the taste is definitely worth the effort. The combination of turmeric, dill, shrimp sauce, red chilies and pepper trigger every taste bud. The main ingredient, the moist fish, cannot be as good as when it is mixed with dill and turmeric.

Number 2: Pho (Beef Noodles)

Unlike Cha Ca La Vong, Pho is a competitive dish, which is what I have thought for years. It is an anyone-can-cook cuisine as the recipe is no secret at all: spicy broth, ginger, onion, beef and noodles. However, the way each chef prepares the dish and the timing in cooking are critical. Pho Bat Dan has got both, which explains why I think it will be a great pity if you miss this food on your trip to the capital.

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These days, you don’t need a plane ticket to taste the dish in Bat Dan Street. Similar to Cha Ca, Pho Bat Dan has long been brought to American tables and other countries in the world. Having said that, the feelings of queuing in line in a sunny morning to pick up your own bowl of Pho cannot be found anywhere else. Worse, when you are in a long line of customer waiting to be called, your friends are busy with taking some chairs. Nevertheless, the unique taste of silky noodles, fresh herbs and carefully seasoned beef is worth this “do-it-yourself” style.

Number 3: West Lake shrimp cakes

This local delicacy is always mentioned as the greatest culinary tradition of Hanoi. A restaurant situated next to the West Lake created the recipe in 1970s. The combination of freshwater shrimps caught from this lake mixed with flour, sweet potato and such common spices as pepper, sweeteners, and salt turns absolutely great when the cake is soaked in a pan full of boiling oil. The crispy cake is served with sour and sweet fish sauce, green papaya and carrot slices. In fact, the sauce is the determinant of the dish’s success and the distinction of a great chef.

Now, the source of shrimps from the lake is not as plentiful as the old days, so many chefs have already turned to another option, sea shrimps which are equally sweet and savory.

Number 4 : Bun Cha Obama (Bun Cha Huong Lien)

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Months after the US President’s visit, flocks of tourists have been coming to the small restaurant that served the dish praised by this family man in his trip to Vietnam.

At 24 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung district, kitchen staff start serving Bun Cha at 10 am, but there are always many customers patiently waiting outside. The very first reason, as everyone knows, is to try “an Obama set” with grilled pork, noodles, sour and sweet fish sauce, vegetables and spring rolls. Second, compared to Bun Cha Hang Manh, which has been warned as a tourist trap, Bun Cha Huong Lien offers you the most flavorful pork and spring rolls.

My hat is off to you, Mr. President as you have got your greatest option on your first trip to this country.