Hanoi’s 'Tour de Snack'

By Pham Van   August 15, 2016 | 12:55 am PT
For those who find themselves hungry all the time, or simply at odd times, Hanoi has fast food ready and waiting on the sidewalks. 

Every city comes up with its own way of nurturing its citizens, and Hanoi is no exception. Its breakfast wonder pho has built up a worldwide following, and ‘bun cha’ became an Instagram sensation after U.S. President Obama tucked in during a visit to the city, although he had it for dinner rather than lunch as most Hanoians would. For some reason, all the popular dishes are made specifically for breakfast, lunch or dinner. That might have left you wondering what's left for night owls and professional snackers in Hanoi.

Here's just a few of the capital's irresistable snacks. 

Savory fried dumplings

Deep fried dumplings (‘banh ran’) stuffed with minced pork are among the best ways to enjoy one of Vietnam's most praised culinary inventions: the sweet and sour sauce that you usually dip your ‘nem’ (both fried and fresh rolls) and ‘bun cha’ (sour rice noodle and grilled pork) in. Vietnamese gastronomy prides itself on a harmony of tastes and smells, and the watery sauce is a sterling ambassador of that. From a ratio of fish sauce (adding saltiness) and water (acting as solvent), the Vietnamese have come up with an edible wonder by adding vinegar, sugar, chopped garlic, pepper and sliced chili, enlivening whatever dives in it.

VnExpress once gave you the ‘banh ran’ with a sauce actually thicker than anywhere else. Still, most of them come with the watery but unforgettable one.

Where serves it best: 3 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street in the Old Quarter


The Vietnamese word is known among the country’s millenials as the unofficial alternative for ‘dancing’, which derives from the snack's twisty shape. Pho worshippers have been ordering those plain fried dough sticks as a side dish since forever with some vowing only to have pho with ‘quay’. ‘Quay’, however, stays tasty whether “standing small beside the victory” or on its own with the one and only side dish: sweet and sour sauce, obviously accompanied by its dance partner chili sauce for that extra kick.

Where serves it best: The intersection of Dang Dung and Quan Thanh.

Grilled pork skewer

The meaty late-afternoon treat. These ‘thit xien nuong” can be found at any bazaar and street corner. All, without prior agreement, open simulaneously as the sun starts to dip, covering their surroundings with a veil of aromatic smoke inviting bikers for a "ride-through" during the capital's cold winter. Have them alone, or order them in a sandwich, banh mi style.

Where serves it best: 44 Yen Phu Street

Mixed fruit

One of the latest inventions to hit the streets helps ease the greasy taste that all the ‘banh ran’, ‘quay’ and ‘thit xien nuong’ leave. Just a simple combination of condensed milk, coconut milk, crushed ice and fruit, both tropical and temperate, lends the name to a small street near Hoan Kiem Lake, To Tich.

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