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The deep-fried dumplings that have Hanoians queuing up

By Ha Thanh, Van Pham   July 15, 2016 | 03:00 pm PT
Hit the road again, Hanoi is more than just the Old Quarter.

Street food in Vietnam is so powerful that most places can thrive without advertising in a decent brick and mortar shop. VnExpress takes you to one these places in Hanoi, a bit far from the worn out Old Quarter and the “too familiar to be called foreign” West Lake.


This place offers a treat called "banh ran" - the deep-fried dumpling. Even the simplest method of marketing, word of mouth, requires a name to cling on to, which led to the quick adoption of the brand “chi Hoa”, the owner’s name.


For the last 28 years of business, the cheap yet tasty dumplings have built their own fan base with many regulars, helping to spread chi Hoa's reputation much farther than your average street food place. When Hoa relocated, many still managed to follow the scent to the new location without any announcement or guide.


Hoa, the owner, said that the business is completely family-run with all the staff either siblings or spouses. As the business expands, staff numbers have risen to six: two shaping, two frying, one motorbike attendant and one taking care of iced tea and arranging stools. Dumplings are usually sold from noon until they are out of stock at 6-7 p.m.


Even with six people, the place can barely keep up with the line of customers pouring in on a daily basis. A numbering system may seem too much for a street food place, but it turns out to be the only way to serve the empty stomachs who rush here in late afternoon. If you're planning to taste the dumplings, be sure you set aside at least 30 minutes.


This couple have been frequenting the place since their high-school years. Now that their child is eleven years old, the dumplings have gone up from VND1,500 ($0.1) each to VND7,000 ($0.3), and the twenty-something owner has become middle aged.

Quán bánh rán 28 năm ở Hà Nội

The place offers two kinds of fried dumpling: sweet or savory. Similar to other food in the country's sauce-based gastronomy, you have to try the dip, and chi Hoa has it bang on. The savory dumpling stuffed with minced pork and wood ear mushroom is deep-fried and cut into bite-sized pieces, but at “chi Hoa”, the dish is topped up with a think sauce with a cumquat aroma, completely different from the “bun cha”-like sauce served on the side or its counterparts.


Found on Lac Long Quan Street, the dumplings are a true attraction in central Hanoi.

Photos by VnExpress/Ha Thanh

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