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Oct 22, 2022 / 10:46

Famous snacks around Hoan Kiem Lake

There are several delicious Hanoi specialties available in its vicinity that any traveler should try when visiting Hoan Kiem - the iconic lake of Hanoi.

Discovering and enjoying delicious exotic dishes while exploring new places can make one’s traveling experience very special.

A specialty of Hanoi: Bun rieu cua or vermicelli soup with rice-field crab. Photo: Thu An

The “kingdom” of street food in Hanoi

While Hoan Kiem Lake is known for its deep-emerald enchanting body of water right in the heart of Hanoi, traditional dishes in surrounding streets are also equally famous for showcasing the capital’s diverse and culinary tradition with various flavors.

According to local culinary experts, Hanoian cuisine is characterized by the elegant style of Trang An (the ancient Vietnamese capital). Along with the development of all aspects, Hanoi cuisine also imported the essence of many regions throughout the country with some local tweaks.

Street food in Hanoi is varied for breakfast, lunch and afternoon light meal. Breakfast usually included Pho or Vietnamese traditional flat noodle soup with beef or chicken, banh mi or Vietnamese sandwich, banh cuon or Vietnamese steamed rice rolls, xoi or sticky rice, among others.

Typical snacks in Hanoi for fall-winter: egg coffee and young rice. Photo: Mai Minh Tuan

Lunch came with bun cha or grilled pork and noodle, bun rieu or crab soup with noodle, bun oc or snail soup with noodle, mien luon or crystal vermicelli with eel, banh xeo or Vietnamese pancake, among other dishes.

Delicious snack food in the afternoon includes banh gio or Vietnamese pyramid pork dumplings, rice porridge with chicken, sweet dessert and others.

Apart from original food, there are also various new snacks offered such as spring rolls with snail, nem chua ran or fried fermented pork roll, tra sua bubble milk tea and so on, which are favorites of many people. 

Interestingly, the best dishes in Hanoi are inexpensive! These tasty cheap treats can be found within the Old Quarter’s narrow alleyways and bustling street markets, especially the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake. Let The Hanoi Times take you on a tour of the “best of the best” of Hanoi street food! 

Enjoying a variety of young people’s favorite snacks on Hanoi’s shortest street

The familiar Hanoi street dishes in Ho Hoan Kiem Street: Nom bo kho or Dried beef salad and Banh bot loc or tapioca dumplings. Photo: Tung Anh

Ho Hoan Kiem Street is next to Hoan Kiem Lake. Although it is a really short street, it is one of the most visited eating places by young Hanoians as well as foreign tourists.

One of the interesting things about Hanoi is that many alleys and short streets are famous “food halls”. When it comes to the shortest street in Hanoi, Ho Hoan Kiem is the iconic one, only about 50 meters long.

Let's come and raid the city’s shortest street with all the snacks there!

It is often said that if you want to have some salad in Hanoi, you should go to Ho Hoan Kiem Street. But not only that, the food stalls here also sell a lot of other snacks such as rice dumpling cake, fresh spring rolls or fried fermented pork rolls. Just sit down at any stall and you can order a tray full of food.

Here are some dishes you can have a taste of on the special street, including:

Nom bo kho or Dried beef salad

The main ingredients include green papaya, dried beef, fresh beef, pork spleen and the sauce used to mix them, which is a harmonious blend of sour, sweet and salty flavors. A sprinkling of fragrant roasted peanuts on top will perfect the dish. Although the dried beef salad here is not the best in Hanoi, it is still considered to taste good by many.

The bustling dining scene in the evening at Ho Hoan Kiem Street. Photo: Tung Anh

Chim quay or Bird roast

It is a highly praised dish in the food stalls on Ho Hoan Kiem Street. The meat used is quail, being thoroughly marinated and then roasted with Clausena indica leaves to create an appetizing aroma. Right after an order, the meat is warmed up to accentuate its taste.

Banh bot loc or Tapioca dumplings 

The tapioca dumplings on sale on the street are the type without any wrap, filled with shrimp, minced pork and wood ear. Each cake is cut in half, served with sweet and sour dipping sauce as well as some roasted peanuts. To be fair, the cake here is not the best in the capital, either. However, it’s still worth trying and being included in your ordered tray of dishes.

Nem cuon or Fresh spring rolls

With the filling mainly consisting of vegetables, a little shredded pork ear and fermented pork rolls, the dish may sound unappealing, yet when dipped in sweet and sour sauce, it takes on a much better flavor.

Overall, none of the dishes on Ho Hoan Kiem Street is rated as “Hanoi’s No. 1”, but together, they bring a colorful experience thanks to many factors: the variety of dishes, the good taste of each of them, plus the central location and enthusiastic staffs. So, this is still a popular spot that attracts a lot of visitors.

In the evenings and on weekends, the food stalls on Ho Hoan Kiem Street are often crowded with diners. Besides the young people who invite each other to eat and chat here, the stalls also often welcome foreign diners, partly due to their central location and partly because these Hanoian snacks are also a must-try experience for international tourists.