Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

By Quynh Mai   December 19, 2023 | 05:35 am PT
Step into the vibrant streets of Hanoi's winter, where street food staples such as steamed rice cake and pork rib porridge take center stage.
Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Banh duc (savory steamed rice cake)

Banh duc is a steamed rice cake, particularly popular in the northern regions of Vietnam, including Hanoi. It is often enjoyed as a snack or light meal. The preparation involves steaming rice flour with water until it forms a solid, yet soft texture. In some places, the cake is served with braised fish, braised pork, shrimp paste, and crab soup.

The cake is often topped with different toppings such as tofu, stir-fried ground pork, wood ear mushrooms, and various herbs, all complemented by a sweet fish sauce.

Diners can enjoy the savory steamed rice cake at 8 Le Ngoc Han Street, 296 Minh Khai Street, 106 Goc De Street, and 108B1 Trung Tu Street.

Photo by Xuan Phuong

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Banh troi tau (glutinous rice balls)

One of the best-selling dishes in winter in Hanoi is banh troi tau. This treat consists of small, round glutinous rice flour balls filled with a sweet mixture, often made with sugar and green bean paste or black sesame paste.

The balls are boiled until they float, signaling that they are cooked. The cakes have a chewy yet tender texture and are served with a sweet ginger-infused syrup.

Diners can enjoy the glutinous rice balls at 30 Hang Giay Street, 90 De To Hoang Street, 1 Bat Dan Street, and 146 Quan Thanh Street.

Photo by Quynh Mai

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Hot cassava sweet soup

During the fall and winter, hot cassava sweet soup is a comforting delight. The cassava is cooked in a mixture of sugar, water and ginger. Tapioca flour is then dissolved in water and gradually added to the pot until the soup reaches the desired thickness.

The cassava offers a fragrant and rich taste. Its warm, yellow-brown appearance, thick texture, and subtle notes of ginger and coconut milk make this sweet soup best enjoyed hot for a soothing experience.

Diners can enjoy the hot cassava sweet soup at 75 Tran Xuan Soan Street, 39 Ly Quoc Su Street, 35B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, and 90 De To Hoang Street.

Photo by Bui Thuy

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Black sesame sweet soup

Originating from Chinese cuisine, this thick soup dessert is made from ground black sesame, cooked with ginger and lemon leaves. Despite its unassuming appearance, black sesame sweet soup captivates dinners with its sweet, nutty aroma complemented by a spicy ginger flavor. This dessert also has various health benefits, including aiding digestion and providing a cooling effect.

Diners can enjoy black sesame tea at 30 Hang Giay Street.

Photo courtesy of Instagram/ kimifoodie

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Pork rib porridge

Hanoi-style pork rib porridge features the aroma of fresh rice blended with the savory flavor of pork ribs. Contrary to the typical porridge preparation that involves soaking rice, resulting in a porridge with soft rice grains, Hanoi residents opt to grind it into powder, achieving a smooth consistency during cooking. The final product is a rich and savory porridge, with the ribs cooked to perfection.

Hanoians commonly enjoy porridge with fried dough, fried shallots, and pork floss, with a touch of pepper and a hint of scallions adding an extra kick. A bowl of pork rib porridge is just enough to warm the stomach without being overly filling, makes it a popular choice for an afternoon snack.

Diners can enjoy the pork rib porridge at 14 Dong Xuan Street, 142 Doi Can Street, and 26 Tran Xuan Soan Street.

Photo by Thuy Linh

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Banh gio (rice and pork pyramid cake)

Banh gio is a popular choice on cold days in Hanoi. The cake features an outer skin made from a blend of rice flour and glutinous rice flour. The filling includes ground pork, wood ear mushrooms, shallots, and pepper. The cake is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

Taking a bite, you'll experience the soft outer skin melting in your mouth, complemented by the savory filling. The fragrance of ground pepper introduces an additional layer of flavor. Diners can choose to complete the dining experience by adding pork rolls, pickles, and chili sauce.

Diners can enjoy banh gio at 3 Thuy Khue Street, 33 Dong Cac Street, 21 Luong Dinh Cua Street.

Photo courtesy of ngoafood

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Fried chung cake (sticky rice cake)

Fried chung cake is a delicacy reminiscent of Lunar New Year, popular with many diners every winter. The cake, as small as an adult's hand, is arranged evenly on a round aluminum tray, with a charcoal stove underneath.

The cake is fried until golden brown, with a crispy outer layer while remaining soft on the inside. It contains slightly soft sticky rice, with a filling of green beans and a few pieces of pork belly. Diners have the option to enhance their meal by ordering fried sausages.

Diners can enjoy the fried sticky rice cake at 1B Thanh Ha Street, 73 Pham Hong Thai Street, Cau Dong Market, and 76 Truong Dinh Street.

Photo courtesy of Instagram/troosismeee

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Fried rice balls

Fried rice balls is often coated with sugar or molasses, creating a crunchy texture. Inside, the filling is made from pureed green beans, providing a sweet flavor.

The cake used to be exclusively sweet, but as time went on, variations were introduced, including a savory option filled with meat and wood ear mushrooms.

Diners can enjoy fried rice balls at 102E2 Thai Thinh Street, 52 Hang Chieu Street, 5 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, and the Hang Chieu - Quan Chuong intersection.

Photo by Quynh Mai

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Steamed buns

Steamed buns are a familiar breakfast dish for many Vietnamese. These white buns, available in round or square shapes, gain even more appeal during the winter when they are often sold piping hot.

Tearing off the soft, spongy outer layer, hot steam rises along with the scent of shiitake mushrooms and wood ear mushrooms. There are two types of filling: sweet filling made from green beans and savory filling made from ground pork with vermicelli, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, and quail eggs. A steamed bun as large as an adult's palm served with a cup of soy milk is a common breakfast for many Hanoians.

Diners can enjoy steamed buns at 146 Quan Thanh Street, 59 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, and 83 Hang Bac.

Photo by Xuan Phuong

Hanoi’s winter street food scene: 10 popular items

Grilled corn and sweet potatoes

Grilled corn and sweet potatoes are sidewalk snacks that often appear on winter days in Hanoi. The enticing aroma comes from cooking them over pink-charcoaled embers. Many people enjoy these snacks with hot soy milk and tea, late at night. You can easily find these treats on the streets of Hanoi.

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