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Hanoi, Vietnam: The Best Trip Review and Food Guide


Picture of Brian Kennett

Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Boozy Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Hanoi, Vietnam: Your Best Travel Guide and Food Review

Table of Contents

Hanoi Vietnam: Welcome to a literal culinary journey through Hanoi, Vietnam, as my family friends and I eat our way across this incredible city.

In this food blog, we’ll be your virtual guide as we explore the bustling streets of Hanoi, renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture, and, most importantly, its mouthwatering cuisine: as you will indeed see. 

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity, and its food scene is a testament to this harmonious coexistence. From the iconic street food stalls tucked away in narrow alleyways to the elegant restaurants serving up exquisite Vietnamese dishes from internationally renowned Chefs, we’ll leave no culinary stone unturned or corner unexplored in our Hanoi Guide.

The Islifearecipe.net Best Hanoi Travel Guide and Food Review

…is your passport to a gastronomic adventure like no other we have written to date. Join the Islifearecipe.net Team as we savor the essence of Hanoi, one dish/restaurant/boat at a time, and uncover the hidden gems that make this city a food lover’s paradise. Just follow in our footsteps, folks.

Hanoi Vietnam: I have been to Vietnam a few times already, but this time we went with my best mate from the UK, and his son. What a lovely time we had. Paul was a tad uncertain at the start, him being a Vietnam virgin and all, but towards the end of the trip, he was a natural. I wanted to give you a first person wander through some of the eateries we frequented to give you some ideas of where and what to eat if you happen to stumble into Hanoi, Vietnam.

You are going to love it if you come here – truly one of the most exciting and vibrant cities and countries I have visited, it’s edgy, it’s cultured, it’s fast-paced, it’s food heaven, it’s historic, it’s just gorgeous all up – love you Hanoi, Vietnam. Our day would go like this, breakfast meeting to discuss what we would do for the day.

Our usual day was;

  • Go to the old quarter of Hanoi for a walkabout and explore,
  • Hit a new local restaurant for lunch,
  • Head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap for my little one, Amy (then);
  • The boys would then jump in the pool, and
  • Paul and I would be Googling, having a beer, and deciding our next dinner location.

You walk along the streets and then literally stumble into food being made on the street. Hobbit-like stools allow a bike to be parked, a quick griddle of something or other, and you’re off again to join the chaos of the roads

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

And as you walk, what do you see – a butcher, come street store, thing. I just love this place. Every step you take you experience this type of thing. You cannot help but stop, stare in wonder and hopefully try a bit of course!

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food rerview

The Chinese bridge across the central lake leads to a little island on which there is a Turtle Temple. Yes, I have filtered a little the coloring on this a little, but still how gorgeous is this? 

The Turtle Temple, officially known as Ngoc Son Temple, is a mesmerizing cultural and historical gem nestled in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam. Located on an islet within the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, this temple is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of Hanoi’s rich heritage. As you cross the iconic red bridge leading to the temple, you’ll be transported into a world of tranquility and spirituality.

The temple’s architecture is a captivating blend of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist influences, adorned with intricate carvings, vibrant paintings, and ancient artifacts. One of the most revered aspects of the Turtle Temple is the preserved remains of a giant freshwater turtle, symbolizing longevity and wisdom, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists and a cherished place of reverence for locals. 

Whether you’re exploring the temple’s historical significance or simply seeking a serene oasis in the bustling city, the Turtle Temple in Hanoi is a captivating destination that offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich cultural tapestry.

Hanoi Vietnam Best Travel Guide and Food Review

Wherever you go you can’t help but people watch in this city. Here is my view from a balcony bar, whilst supping a cold beer on one very hot day. Bikes full of different products go whizzing past against the traffic of the ever moving, and beeping scooters and cars. This could be a photo from the early 1900 hundreds, almost as if time has stood still. Apart from the 7-Up bottle in the back basket of course.

Hanoi Vietnam Best Travel Guide and Food Review

WTF – yep Cobra juice. A healthy drink to bring you well-being and vitality – nah f*ck that mate, I’ll have three pints of Hanoi Beer, please…

Walking the streets in Vietnam is an experience, cooking is happening everywhere, things being sold, fruits, fish, meats, little burners the size of a flask cooking various delicacies, noodle soups, deep-fried tofu, grilling chicken, beef, and all sorts. 

The smells of the streets are full of these cooking odors, wafting through the air. So as you weave through people, avoiding the stock being delivered, dodging motorcycles and cars like a well-trained matador you get a little oasis’s of food literally at your feet. I so love Hanoi, Vietnam.

Where did we stay on this trip? 

We stayed at the rather luxurious Hotel Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Hanoi Vietnam Metropole Hotel Best Travel Guide and Food Review

Wow – how beautiful is this place, believe me, it was even better inside. Just an amazing experience the time we were there. It truly did feel like Christmas back home, with trees and decorations adorning every ceiling and wall, and a nice chill in the air to boot

Here’s a tip I learned in the hotel during breakfast one morning. A tip that I really want to share with you. Normally how would you do this – egg cracking? On cup edges, kitchen tops, using a knife, using a spoon, side of a saucepan, etc. is that your usual style? Well, how about trying the Hanoi, Vietnam method? This amazed me no end.

So I’m in the breakfast queue at the hotel for some sunny-side-up eggs for Amy, and the lady serving was cracking eggs for the cook who eventually cooked them. What was she using, knife, kitchen top, cup edge? Nope, she was using another egg. Yep, another egg. Try it it works, give one a firm tap against the other and one will crack open, just one. It’s incredible. She was cracking an egg every 2-3 seconds, no mess, no shell, incredible.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review metropole hotel

This hotel is seriously nice, but we didn’t eat here at all apart from breakfast. We just wanted to be out exploring the city and its eateries. But what a hotel this is. The cold air, the twinkling lights, and the trees made it feel very Christmas in Asia. The first time for me in ages.

Pho 24 Restaurant, Hanoi, Vietnam.

My all-time favourite dish, Pho Bo. And now to be eating in its home country is exceptional.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

It doesn’t get much better than this folks. By the main road, by the lake, in the city center of Vietnam, Hanoi, chaos continues outside, whilst you sit with a Hanoi Beer and slurp your Pho Bo – oh yes indeed I am in heaven!!!

Hanoi Vietnam best travel guide and food review

Here is the view from Pho 24 restaurant window – the Hanoi, Vietnam city lake with the Turtle Temple front and center. Not bad whilst slurping an amazing Pho Bo soup with a nice cold Hanoi beer.

We ate this virtually every day, as they even served it at breakfast in the hotel. Of course, part of our food adventuring was to wander the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam in search of Pho Bo, the delectable Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Pho 24 is lakeside in Hanoi, so you get pretty nice views if you get the window seat. In fact, about 9 years ago I attended a financial service conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, and went to this very same restaurant and sat at the very same seats.

Hanoi Vietnam best travel guide and food review

We all want it more and more, including my girls.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

As do the boys – YUMMY. Wow Jude wasn’t even a thought at this time, bless. Shows you how long ago this trip was.

Pho 24 was empty when we entered, full when we left, and mixed with locals and tourists, always a great sign for quality expectation. This restaurant is cheap and so fulfilling. Pho Bo is the beef version, or have Pho Ga if you prefer chicken (as Amy does). We ended up visiting Pho 24 two times, once on our first day in Hanoi, Vietnam, and then again when Paul and Ryan arrived. Yep, it’s addictive is the Pho @ Pho 24.

Now you have my Pho Bo recipe already for this amazing dish, but when in Vietnam you try the local stuff as you get some specific ingredients I have never found elsewhere. Such as Culantro, or ngo gai, which is of the coriander family and comes as an addition at Pho 24.

The first Pho 24 restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam opened in 1920. The dish itself is said to actually originate in Northern Vietnam, apparently to the South West of Hanoi. It was designed to meet the taste requirement of local Vietnamese and French and was originally sold in large boxes by street vendors until the restaurant opened in 1920. 

Some debates exist regarding the naming of the dish though with one suggestion linking it to the French dish “pot-au-feu” or ” dish of fire”, where the French also add charred onions to flavor and color the broth, which is something that distinguishes Pho from other Asian noodle soups.

After the war with the US, the Vietnamese had many fleeing immigrants, so Pho became a Global dish. We used to eat it at least 3 times a week when we lived in Melbourne, where there is a huge Asian population and restaurant presence along Victoria Street.

Cha Ca La Vong, Cha Ca Street

We went very local one day for lunch. In fact, this is a very local and very famous local dish in one street in Hanoi, Vietnam. So much so that they have now renamed the Street Cha Ca Street after the dish. Here we found this beautiful 2-storey, old old restaurant called Cha Ca la Vong. This was just a wonderful place.

Interesting is that I read some blogs and the like about this place and everyone slated it, stating it is run down, it has rude staff, has exorbitant prices for the food, small portions, and so on. I have to say that was not my view of the world about this place at all.

I thought the staff was great, the food was delicious, we all had fun cooking it on the table, and yes it was a little pricey in comparison to other lunches we had, and yes it is old but boy it has a character like the rest of Hanoi, Vietnam. We were asked to sit upstairs, we stole a reserved seat at the window, where Amy was gazing out at the streets.

Hanoi Vietnam best travel guide and food review

My little Amy is street watching as we await the food. I could, like her it seems, sit for hour after hour watching this. Organized chaos outside, supping a chilled beer, and eating amazing food inside. I feel like I belong here, I feel like it is home.

hano vietnam best travel guide and food review

Here comes our guy, sort of a Vietnamese Michael Jackson thing going on here. Only he’s missing the one white glove – My mate Coleman snapping away behind him, making sure he misses nothing it seems.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Still down to the staff at this point to be doing the cooking at the table side for us. We sit and wait patiently…

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Now it’s our turn – adding in the fennel to wilt it down. A few little stirs are all it needs to get that flavor in there.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Coleman has clearly picked up some new skills whilst away from Margate – nicely done PC, good work mate.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

And here she is finished. The noodles are lightly blanched, place some Spring onion, some crunchy peanuts, some Catfish, and then some of the dipping sauce. BOOM!!! Of course, accompanied by a Hanoi Beer!!!

We joked and laughed with the staff and other diners, as we had no idea how to prepare the food – so you’ll see one of the team came to help show the first time. The food was delicious; buttery, Fennelly, peanuty with a little chili spice heat too – just gorgeous. We all wolfed it down, including me who is not a fishy person as you know. The fish they use here is Catfish.

This place is like 80-100 years old, run-down a little yes, but that’s the charm of the place and also the attraction to go in and explore, like the rest of Hanoi, Vietnam. Also because it is old it therefore means it is successful and sustainable

Lots of locals don’t mind going there for the food and/or décor I suggest we Westerners just shut up and get on with it, and stop being self-opinionated ponces -this place was amazing, reasonably priced, great culture and charm, nice people both eating and serving and truly wonderful flavors. 

Price, as a moan, well if you think 150,000 Vietnamese Dong is expensive I suggest you get a higher paid job or get some pocket money from your Dad, or sell something to pay for it – the price is reasonable believe me. Of course, you pay over the top for what is a tourist stop – but a restaurant that had a whole street renamed after its food, I’ll give that a go for sure.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Quaint looking indeed, the worldly famous Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi – just love it, what a place – being shown off by the Kennett and Coleman clans

The food writer Alastair Hendy, who lives in London, has a recipe for this classic fish dish in his new book – Food & Travels: Asia. So I have stolen that and added some things I think are missing from what we enjoyed that day in Hanoi. 

The way to do this is if you can, is to finish it off at the table along with its classic accompaniment of cooked vermicelli noodles, crushed toasted peanuts, and nouc cham, a Vietnamese condiment made of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, rice vinegar, chilies, and garlic.

You will need:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed,
  • 3-4″ of galangal, peeled and finely chopped,
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric,
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce,
  • 1 chili padi finely chopped,
  • 1-2 teaspoon caster sugar,
  • 500g firm white fish– catfish, monkfish, or snapper cut into 2cm rough chunks,
  • Seasalt and cracked black Kampot pepper,
  • A knob of butter,
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive oil,
  • 1/2 cup of Dill, roughly chopped,
  • 4-5 Spring onions cut into 5 cm lengths,
  • A handful of roughly chopped coriander,
  • Vermicelli rice noodles to serve how many people you have, and
  • Crushed salty peanuts.

Mix the galangal, garlic, turmeric, fish sauce, chili, and sugar together and marinade the fish overnight in that mixture. Just place it in a bowl and cover with silver foil.

Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a non-stick pan and sauté the fish for 3-4 minutes to give it a nice color. Then at the table-side scatter the dill and spring onion on the fish until it wilts. Then serve the fish and greens atop the noodles with some of the crushed nuts sprinkled on top, and that little condiment in a side serving dish.

That is that! Simple but bloody delicious you’ll find! And the cooking at the table side just adds a little bit of fun too.

Seasons of Hanoi, 95b Quan Thanh Street – +84 4 3734 1466

Sorry We're Closed

I stole a recipe for a squid salad once from a book by Mai Pham, who originally stole it herself from this very restaurant. So whilst in town let’s go to the origination of that dish. Our night at Seasons of Hanoi Restaurant.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

beautiful place I had only read of before. It just looks welcoming doesn’t it, the little twinkly lights, the small demure nature of the building – and believe me inside was the same and the food was just WOW. My guys are standing just there at the entrance you’ll see.

A beautiful unassuming place, dressed up for Christmas tonight of course. North of the city center near the West Lake of Hanoi is the location, so this became our first taxi ride in Hanoi, Vietnam as it is quite a walk. Boy did we pig out here at this restaurant as it was just such good quality food

Every dish is always accompanied by salt, white pepper, chopped chili, and lime juice – mix to paste and there you have your condiments all in one. Stunning- here is what we pigged out on;

  • Beef in 5 spices,
  • Coconut rice,
  • 5-spice porkbelly,
  • Steamed tuna, and the following
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Beef in 5 spices – looking good already is it not…

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

I think you can make out some dishes that we have not yet devoured. Prawns in pineapple to the left foreground, chicken with lime leaves to the top right, sautéed sweet potato buds with garlic to the top left and butter-fried & grilled prawns to the bottom right. See also the little saucers of the pepper/lime mix that comes with every dish.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

And a last-minute entry of soft shell crab deep-fried in batter and served with tamarind sauce. Sorry, we guzzled this one quickly so I only have a photo of the after-effects as it were. All of course washed down with pints of Ha Noi Bai (the local beverage in Bourdain speak), and a nice bottle of Michel Picard, French Bourgogne Pinot Noir. Heaven.

Quan An Ngon, 18 Phan Boi Chau – +84 4 3942 8162

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

I Googled this place, having seen it in the local newspaper, as it suggested it was a decent joint to visit. We walked there as it was only about 10-15 minutes away. No idea what to expect as we were totally blind to this place, only having some mentions in blogs and some write-ups on the web. 

But now having visited there, you simply have to try this place if you go to Hanoi, Vietnam. It was a complete mix of locals and tourists dining this night – always a good sign. Also, it was packed as you’ll see below, and we had to wait for about 10 minutes for a table, but well worth the wait, and again another good sign of what was about to come.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Heaving, simply heaving – and for good reason, this place is indeed a food mecca, with lots of individual restaurants acting as one

It’s like a series of hawkers around the outside of the courtyard but with waited service. A huge menu, of over 20 pages to choose from. We decided to just order a bunch of different dishes and stick them in the middle for all to consume. A lovely cool evening, sat in the courtyard outdoors, and very Christmasy due to Xmas trees, twinkly lights, and the like.

hanoi best travel guide and food review

My attempt at writing our food order in Vietnamese. Here is our, slightly over-indulgent, order receipt. Yes, that is indeed my handwriting. I wrote the order in Vietnamese for the girl serving us to make it easier for the order. Translated this becomes;

  • Sweetcorn and Crab Soup – order for the girls,
  • Deep Fried Glutinous RiceBalls stuffed with Mung Bean – wow, like eating a donut with savory bean paste, deep fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds, delicious,
  • Ollie’s favorite Vietnamese food, the beef noodle soupof Vietnam – a Pho Bo,
  • Steamed clams with lemon grass– oh my gosh these were simply delicious, very subtle flavors but just so tasty. Yes, I have stolen this concept and made my own version, check IsLifeARecipe.net for the yam basket with lemon grass cockles.
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review
  • Chicken congee for Amy. A rice porridge with shredded chicken & she loves this stuff. You can get this all day long across most of South East Asia from breakfast to dinner,
  • Fried chicken wings with garlic for Ryan. For most meals, he would order one dish that he specifically liked to make sure he was covered from an eating perspective. But I must say I was well impressed with him, he ate pretty much all that was put on the table including frog, raw chilis, and so on,
  • Vermicelli with minced and roast pork. This was great as it came with a little bowl of soup that you added to the noodles to finish off the dish, so very tasty,
  • A great dish ordered by Mary was the grilled mackerel with chili and salt. This was a very pretty dish as you can see below. Simply grilled on the BBQ and served with the usual condiment that you mix up yourself – salt/white pepper/chopped chili/lime juice, the perfect accompaniment for quite an oily fish,
  • Deep fried frog legs – for Amy, yes for Amy. She just loves frogs which is quite amazing really. Perhaps she has never seen The Muppets. But I asked her do you want a frog, and yes yes yes was the response. These were deep-fried in batter and were delicate and delicious. Even Ryan had one and enjoyed it, “it’s like chicken”, was his response,
  • Finally (I know how many dishes, haha!) we had the Vietnamese pancake dish as a last-minute entry, Banh Xeo. It is like a crepe texture, stuffed with bean sprouts, belly pork, prawn, etc. The server then cuts it into individual pieces, and you take one of these, and add some of the Vietnamese herbs & greens. Then roll her up and dip it goes to the dipping sauce. These were great, the Vietnamese herb added a lemony taste, just so so delicious.

Garden Vuon Hanoi, 36 Hang Manh – +84 4 3824 3402

Again a fairly short walk to this one from the hotel. As usual a spin around the lake and into the old quarter. We did the usual and ordered way too much food as you’ll see from the shot of the table below. Bear in mind though we’d already eaten 2-3 dishes and had the dishes cleared in the photo, yep we ate a lot this night!

A fantastic group shot, as you’ll see we’re sat outside again in a beautiful courtyard setting. Very nice al fresco experience. Notice a few brown bottles on the table, that sneaky Ha Noi Bai gets in there everywhere, naughty little things they are those local beverages!

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Al fresco dining, I love it – almost as much as eating on a beach with sand beneath your toes

Friends, eating, drinking, and chatting. Enjoying ourselves, the food, the company, the place, and of course the city. Amy had her crab with sweetcorn soup, yet again. Bottom left and clearly a whole heap of other stuff.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Amy’s crab and sweetcorn soup to the bottom left blessed her, but then look around at that spread – and already 2-3 dishes had been consumed and dishes cleared – wow!

Halong Bay Boat Dinner

As you put-put-put along on your barge, all your views are like this. This a must-do if ever you come to Hanoi. Stunning, simply stunning…

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

This is where we moored up for the evening to have dinner and cocktails on the deck. Come on, how many times have you done this? An amazing experience for us all. These are the other boats out there doing the same thing as us. Ours was just two bedrooms – one for Coleman’s and one for Kennett’s. Our private boat for our little cruise.

I have put more on the actual trip itself on the family blog, but here is the food experience of our Halong Bay boat cruise. Basically, we were bobbing around in Halong Bay aboard our private charter, for 3 days and 2 nights, visiting sites such as caves, pearl farms, fishing villages, and so on, and eating: eating a lot.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Cocktails anyone? Oh yes please I’ll take them on the Poop Deck – Ooer Missus!!! The ‘only’ downside was that it was so flipping cold…

What amazes me re the picture below, is that the kitchen is so so small, a typical galley style, a little smaller than ours at home in the condo. The picture below shows the chef after he has cooked and served us 7, yes SEVEN dishes for dinner that night on board. This man is amazing!

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

This man is a genius – here he is slicing pork belly very thinly. Why? For bacon for our breakfast the next day. Seriously! How he banged out the food he did from this ‘closet’ is beyond me. Truly wonderful! He is basically carving off slices of pork belly that is cured already, and in the morning this was our bacon for breakfast, fried until crispy. OMG, it was beautiful. Not smoked or salted it seemed, but bacon flavourful and just baconlicious!

We, of course, washed all the food down with our friend Ha Noi Bia, and a bottle of local Vietnamese plonk (a bit sweet for me). What did we eat for this fine feast on board:

  • Soup – a basic stock of beef, and add in chopped beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, some egg white, and chopped coriander – that’s it, simple but very tasty,
  • Prawns – simply salted and pan-fried. Still warm when served and with a little of the pepper/lime/salt/chili dip made these just sublime. Ollie ended up polishing off 3 of these on his own,
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review
  • Salted and fried jumbo prawns – oh my goodness, and just look at the presentation. Again back to that tiny kitchen and him banging out 7 dishes like this…
  • Tofu – breaded and deep fried. We had this with some soy sauce for dipping, or again the salt/white pepper/chili chopped/lime juice to mix to a paste as a condiment,
  • Beef with Vietnamese Herbs. Damn, this was good. Almost like butter, the meat melted in your mouth,
  • Steamed Fish with Lemon Grass. A picture paints a thousand words right, but what it can’t do is share the smell of this dish. Fresh, fragrant lemon, not a hint of anything fishy. Simply take a firm white flesh fish, gut and de-scale, score the skin on either side, and lay it in foil. On top sprinkle some crushed stalks of lemon grass, some carrot and tomato, and just steam until the fish is cooked through. Again simple but man was it effective,
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Here is the masterful fish dish – just stunning. Again bear in mind this guy is pumping these dishes out from a shoe cupboard

  • Mussels– These were local freshwater mussels, so the shell is a little lighter in color than we’re used to in the UK. I have to assume you could use any mussel for this dish. Pre-cook the mussels in hot water until they open. Then stuff with Spring onion/garlic/lemon grass, that you have stir-fried to release the fragrance. 
  • Then wrap individually in foil and steam or barbecue. These are just delicious, and yes I did recreate these back in Singapore, even putting them into the cookbook I wrote to raise money for Tabitha Foundation, Cambodia.
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Little secret parcels that threw out a beautiful aroma when unwrapped. The lemon grass steam wafted into the air. Not fishy at all and a little smaller than I am used to because they are freshwater – even yours truly had a go

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

My page view of my recipe version of this dish. This appeared in the Tabitha Charity fundraise cook book I wrote. The recipe above is in the photo above. As you can see I could not get the freshwater mussels to go the normal sea mussel – same effect, just a tad fishier.

  • Another fish dish was Yellow Tail Catfish (Basa), breaded and deep-fried,
  • Squid a stir fry with onion and celery and squid of course. Here is a tip that I learned from the cook and from watching other chefs in restaurants at Halong Harbour. If your squid is usually a tad chewy when you cook it, then bash the crap out of it in a pestle and mortar first, then cook it. It then takes on a butter-like consistency, it’s just wonderful. 

I seriously recommend this technique for any time you cook with squid, sotong, octopus, etc. as it makes a massive difference. No more chewy,

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review
  • Squid rings with celery sir fry – bashed up style – probably the most tender squid ever eaten by all of us on the boat,
  • Vietnamese cabbage, stir-fried with garlic, butter, and black pepper. Probably best cabbage I have ever had, and
  • He even had time to create this watermelon-carved candle – yes it’s a candle. Inside was a tea light, pretty amazing don’t you think?
hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Holy crap. I struggle to slice and de-seed watermelon – let alone something like this. OMG

Legend Beer Restaurant at Junction

One Bad One dining experience though, Legend Beer Restaurant, just North of the Hoan Kiem Lake, 2nd Floor on the main junction

I suppose you can’t have it all. But we had a bad eating experience for lunch this day. We had been searching for an allusive Pho Bo joint in the old quarter, but the address given was a travel shop. So hot and dusty we stopped for a couple of beers before heading lakeside to see what we could find. As we’re nearing the lake Amy announces an urgent “wee wee” need, so we make a change of tact and basically jump into the nearest place.

We ended up on 2nd floor of the building below, at a place called Legend Beer Restaurant. A microbrewery claiming to serve authentic Vietnamese food. We all order Pho’s. Ollie, Mary, PC and I decided to have the Pho Bo. Ryan and Amy decided to have the Pho Ga. What came out was just nasty. No accompanying condiments or the usual additions. No beansprouts, limes, chilis, coriander, basil, and so on.

It was tasteless and pretty disgusting, to be honest. I had to ask for some chili, limes, fish sauce, and such to give some taste to the dish – it sort of worked. We even took to scraping the garlic and oyster sauce leftovers from the vegetable dish we ordered (which was delicious by the way) into the soups to try to lift them a little.

The only saving grace of the disastrous food was the view. Likely one of those typical scenarios where tourists will come for the view, and won’t know good or bad Pho if it hits them.

Boy was that not the case with us lot turning up, Legend Beer Restaurant we did expect better than the crap you are serving up. But the view was fun, I’ll give them that.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Legend Beer Restaurant, yep it was, but sadly not a Legend for the right reason. I don’t think we’ll be back to this place ever, unless of course Amy needs another emergency pee, or we just have a beer to watch the view

Amy enjoyed her noodles though. Yes, my love, you look beautiful!

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Slurp slurp Amy Boo – seems like maybe you were the only one to enjoy lunch this day.

Nam Phuong, 19 Phan Chu Trinh – +84 4 3824 0926

The last supper. Very sad to say! And sadder still is that I clearly was not on top of my game this night, as I took no pictures of the food itself, apart from this pretty amazing one below. All that fruit carving was done just to poke some deep-fried rice paper rolls onto it. Amazing isn’t it?

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

What a display. Knocked up again by some extremely skilled person in the kitchen. Being used to display our deep-fried rice paper rolls. WOW!!!

Paul also paid for the entire meal. Bless you, mate. So I didn’t get a receipt to even share what we had line by line, and fuzzy memory is not allowing me to recall it all. But yet again it was a lovely meal, with our lovely friends, the last we’d see of them on this trip. So sad, but happy sad too! It’s worth a look here as I do indeed remember the lovely people and lovely dishes, and that it was truly just a lovely place. A place visited by dignitaries such as Jacques Chirac etc.

Finishing our trip now with some fond memories.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

The beautiful Turtle Temple all lit up for the nighttime. It’s literally like a circuit of a race track around the lake, with the scooters going round and round. But that still does not detract from the absolute beauty within this incredible city.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

Wherever you look there are scooters intermingled with street vendors. In this case, selling extremely fresh and ripe fruit. Maybe pomelos? I am taking these photos from a lovely 2nd-floor bar, where we just sat having a beer, watching the people go about their daily tasks.

hanoi vietnam best travel guide and food review

What cup size do you require Madam? Ooer!!! Amazing the variety the street vendors have. Look at this lot from cups, to teapots, to urns. Quite incredible to watch this all happening beneath the balcony.

Our conclusions of Hanoi Vietnam: our best travel guide and food review

Hanoi, Vietnam, is a culinary and cultural treasure trove that beckons food enthusiasts and travelers from around the world. From bustling street markets to sophisticated restaurants, Hanoi offers an unforgettable culinary journey. Start your day with a steaming bowl of Pho, Vietnam’s beloved noodle soup, at a local street vendor. 

The fragrant blend of herbs, tender beef or chicken, and silky rice noodles is a symphony of flavors that will smack your taste buds. As you wander through the vibrant streets, don’t forget to sample Banh Mi, a delicious French-inspired Vietnamese sandwich bursting with flavors, and sip on Egg Coffee, a Hanoi specialty that’s a creamy delight.

Beyond the food, Hanoi is a city steeped in history and culture. The Old Quarter’s narrow streets are a labyrinth of centuries-old architecture, each corner holding a story waiting to be discovered. Explore ancient temples, like the Turtle Temple by the serene Hoan Kiem Lake, or delve into Vietnam’s past at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 

And when the sun sets, immerse yourself in the lively street food scene, where you can dine on delectable dishes while surrounded by the energy and warmth of the locals. Hanoi is a destination that combines the best of both worlds – exceptional cuisine and rich heritage – making it an unmissable experience for any traveler.

So there we have it the Vietnam Foodie Blog – Hanoi edition. My review of Hanoi, Vietnam. It truly is quite amazing what you can cram into a few days in such a wonderful city. I hope you do get a chance to go visit yourself one day, and if you do – ENJOY!!!

People also asked about Hanoi Vietnam

Q1:What are the must-visit attractions in Hanoi?
A1:Some must-visit attractions in Hanoi include the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Water Puppet Theater, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Perfume Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi Old Quarter, and Ba Vi National Park.
Q2:What’s the best time to visit Hanoi?
A2:The best time to visit Hanoi is during the autumn months (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, and the city’s lush landscapes come to life.
Q3:What are the local dishes to try in Hanoi?
A3:You must try Pho (noodle soup), Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich), Bun Cha (grilled pork with noodles), and Egg Coffee when in Hanoi.
Q4:Is Hanoi a safe city for tourists?
A4:Hanoi is generally considered safe for tourists. It’s advisable to exercise the usual precautions like keeping an eye on your belongings and being cautious in crowded areas.
Q5:What’s the best way to explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter?
A5:The best way to explore the Old Quarter is on foot or by cyclo (a type of bicycle rickshaw). Walking allows you to soak in the charm of the narrow streets and vibrant markets.
Q6:Are there any day trips from Hanoi worth taking?
A6:Yes, you can take day trips from Hanoi to places like Halong Bay, Tam Coc, and Hoa Lu to explore beautiful landscapes and historical sites.
Q7:What cultural etiquette should travelers be aware of in Hanoi?
A7:It’s polite to dress modestly when visiting temples and pagodas. Removing your shoes before entering someone’s home is a sign of respect.
Q8:How can I get around Hanoi?
A8:Getting around Hanoi is easy with options like taxis, ride-sharing apps, cyclos, and public buses. Walking is also a great way to explore the city center.
Q9:What’s the nightlife like in Hanoi?
A9:Hanoi has a vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars, clubs, and street-side eateries. The Old Quarter comes alive in the evenings, offering a taste of local entertainment.
Q10:What’s a unique souvenir to bring back from Hanoi?
A10:Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese dress), lacquerware, silk products, and local handicrafts make for unique and meaningful souvenirs to bring back from Hanoi.

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