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10 must-try noodle soups in Hanoi

Hanoians typically start their day with all sorts of savory dishes, with noodle soups being the most popular choice. They are full of flavor and provide much needed energy for a long working day. Vietnamese also commonly eat noodle soups to cure a common cold or hangover, and in the winter it is the ultimate comfort food. Here a list of ten of the most mouthwatering and well-known noodle soups in the capital, and where to find them.

Bún thang

Bún are thin vermicelli noodles made from rice, and bún thang is a special kind of noodle soup comprised of rice vermicelli, thinly sliced chicken pieces, omelet, Vietnamese ham, mushrooms, and chopped fresh herbs. One of its secret ingredents is a tiny dollop of shrimp paste, which helps to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients, and the combination of mild chicken broth and pungent shrimp paste is simply divine. Bún thang can be found in many places in Hanoi, but the most legendary recipe belongs to a Mrs. Ẩm, a famous cook in the twentieth century. Her recipe for bún thang was adapted by her daughter and son-in-law to serve in their restaurant, Vườn Ẩm Thực. Even though it is quite pricey compared to other places, it is well worth a visit.

Address: 37 Cua Nam, Hanoi, Vietnam

Bún thang | © Vy Dan Tran

Bún thang | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở bò

Phở is among the most internationally well known Vietnamese dishes, and it is frequently served in Vietnamese restaurants around the world. The best place to have phở is definitely Hanoi, even though it may not be the birthplace of the dish. Phở are rice noodles, which are thicker than rice vermicelli, and they are served in either beef broth or chicken broth (phở bò means beef pho). This hearty dish would not be complete without a large bunch of crunchy spring onions and freshly chopped cilantro on top. According to Vietnamese tradition, spring onions are good for your immune system. A place to have good beef pho is at Phở Vui (Happy Pho), which was established about 30 years ago. The place is especially well liked by locals, for breakfast and supper.

Address: 25 Hang Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam

Phở bò | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở bò | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở gà

Phở gà (chicken pho) is lighter than beef pho, and it is a natural remedy for a common cold. Similar to beef pho, it is usually served with chopped spring onions, coriander, onion slices and also quẩy, deep-fried flour-based snacks that are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Locals tend to dip them into their soup to let them absorb the tasty broth. The Vietnamese prefer chicken thighs to breasts, so chicken thigh pho is a little more expensive.

Address: 31 Hang Khoai, Hanoi, Vietnam

Phở gà | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở gà | © Vy Dan Tran

Miến lươn

The main ingredients of miến lươn are miến (cellophane noodles), lươn (eels), fried shallots, bean sprouts and cilantro. The eels are usually deep fried to eliminate their fishy smell and to add a tasty, crunchy touch to the dish. In Chân Cầm street, Minh Lan restaurant specializes in eel dishes, and apart from eel noodle soup, you can also try eel soup and stir-fried eel noodle.

Address: 1 Chan Cam, Hanoi, Vietnam

Miến lươn | © Vy Dan Tran

Miến lươn | © Vy Dan Tran

Bún mọc

Similar to bún thang, bún mọc is rice vemicelli served in chicken or pork broth. What is so special about this dish is that it comprises several different types of Vietnamese ham and sausages. One of the best places to have bún mọc is in Nam Ngư street. This quiet littl street is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, and you can also find some other decent restaurants here.

Address: 70 Nam Ngu, Hanoi, Vietnam

Bún mọc | © Vy Dan Tran

Bún mọc | © Vy Dan Tran

Bún ốc

Like the French, the Vietnamese eat snails too, but not the same kind of snails. They eat ốc (Vietnamese freshwater snails), which are smaller and chewier than their land-based cousins. Cooked snails are arranged neatly in a bowl of bún (rice vermicelli) with fried tofu and fresh herbs, and the dish is finished with a hot, sweet and sour broth that is poured over all of the cold ingredients. Finally, a few slices of cooked tomatoes are placed on top. One of the oldest places serving bún ốc is in Hàng Chai street. Sometimes when it is too busy, guests have to hold their bowls in their hands because there are not enough tables. Still, it is a fun experience if you want to eat like a local.

Address: 6 Hang Chai, Hanoi, Vietnam

Bún Ốc

Bún Ốc

Bún riêu

Bún (rice vermicelli) complements shellfish wonderfully, and it is eaten with both ốc (freshwater snails), and riêu (minced freshwater mini crabs). Similar to bún ốc, bún riêu is served with fried tofu and, sometimes, thinly sliced beef fillet. A favourite place to have bún riêu for local students is in Hoè Nhai street. Although portions may be smaller than other riêu spots, the prices here are unbeatable.

Address: 13 Hoe Nhai, Hanoi, Vietnam

Bún riêu | © Vy Dan Tran

Bún riêu | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở bò sốt vang

Phở cay (spicy pho) is a modern variation of traditional beef pho. Instead of being cooked in beef broth, beef in this dish is stewed in red wine and tomato sauce. The dish has a distinctive spicy flavor and vinegary taste, and is perhaps a little bit Westernized. Phở cay can be enjoyed in the Hanoi Tropical Café, which has very good ambiance and a comfortable, modern interior.

Address: 2C Quang Trung, Hanoi, Vietnam

Phở cay | © Vy Dan Tran

Phở cay | © Vy Dan Tran

Miến ngan

Northern Vietnamese have certain rules for what food pairs best together. Bún tends to go with fish and shellfish, while phở is usually eaten with either beef or chicken. Miến (cellophane noodles) can go with either freshwater eels or poultry such as ngan (creole duck), and miến ngan is creole duck cellophane noodle soup. The combination ofthe duck and bamboo shoots in this dish is a perfect marriage. Served from 10am to 2pm, miến ngan at 31 Lý Quốc Sư street is highly recommended by locals.

Address: 31 Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi, Vietnam

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Bún cá

If you do not want to start your day with meat or shellfish, a lighter choice is always available. Originating from Hai Phong, a port city in northern Vietnam, bún cá is freshwater fish vermicelli soup, which is served with deep fried fish pieces for a crunchy touch. For a chewy taste, fried fish cakes can be added, and the dish is topped with spring onions and dill. A local favourite to eat bún cá is in Hồng Phúc lane.

Address: Ngo Hong Phuc, Hanoi, Vietnam

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Source: VNE

Food

A bowl of fish cake noodles that will leave you wanting for more

A Hanoi restaurant serves steaming bowls of various kinds of noodle soups with three types of vegetables to warm your stomach.

When the weather starts to turn chill, nothing can be as satisfying as slurping on a steaming bowl of delicious sour and spicy noodles soup. Besides bun rieu (salty tomato broth, served with crab or fish) and bun oc (snail noodles soup), another popular choice among Hanoians is bun ca (fried fish cake noodles soup).

When it opened a decade ago the fried fish cake noodles soup restaurant on Le Van Huu Street was just a small eatery, but it now has branches in several other places. But the original one still attracts the most customers.

A full bowl of noodle soup, fish cakes and fresh boiled carp.

A full bowl of noodle soup, fish cakes and fresh boiled carp.

For just VND35,000 ($1.5), each bowl is served with a plate of vegetables, including giant elephant ear plant, water dropwort and mustard leaf. Customers can ask for just one kind of vegetable if they want.

Like most fish cake noodles soup restaurants in Hanoi, this one serves crunchy fried fish cakes to eat with a variety of noodles like rice vermicelli, flat rice noodles and cassava vermicelli.

At the restaurant, the cake is made with climbing perch fish. The pieces of cake are about match-box size, the outside is fried to a crunchy golden color while the inside remains soft and flavorful.

On order, the soup also comes with pieces of freshly boiled carp. They are firm and don’t taste fishy. This is what makes the restaurant stand out for its regulars.

Another signature dish of the restaurant is the fried fish cakes dipped in sweet and sour fish sauce. Since the fish is fried on order, the pieces remain thick and tasty

The fried fish cakes are made on customers' orders. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Dao

The fried fish cakes are made on customers’ orders. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Dao

With a little bit of kumquat, chili sauce and pickled garlic, there is a delicious bowl of noodles soup that customers usually polish off to the last drop. The restaurant owner said since the broth is made from fish bones and marrow bones, the broth is clear and naturally sweet without needing any added artificial flavoring.

Duc, a first time customer, said: “I think the broth here is really nice. The fish cakes are thick and warm, and not shriveled like at other places.”

The restaurant also does takeout of fish cakes, fried eel cakes, crunchy fried fish, boneless fish and more.

This small restaurant has been attracting a large number of customers for a decade. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Dao

This small restaurant has been attracting a large number of customers for a decade. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Dao

Source: Tuan Dao(VNEXPRESS)

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Food

Coconut sticky rice a rare treat on Hanoi streets

The dish emerged decades ago, but it remains difficult to find a place in Hanoi that makes it really well

On the outside, the coconut sticky rice, xoi dua, is a very simple, tasty dish, one of several varieties of the dish that is a popular breakfast choice of many in Vietnam, including Hanoi.

However, there’s more to this particular variety that makes it difficult to get one that has the right taste.

Basically, the dish is a combination of glutinous rice with sesame, shredded coconut and a dash of brown sugar. It has a light sweet taste, great fragrance and does not “fill” you like other, more well known sticky rice varieties.

Despite its great taste and looks, the coconut sticky rice is not a ubiquitous presence on the street because making it is a relatively difficult, time consuming process.

The cook has to steam the rice twice after adding a pinch of salt. Then, the white strands of grated coconut and the sesame, essential to the dish, have to be roasted carefully. If the fire is too strong, they will get burnt, and the taste and fragrance of the dish will be lost. The second steaming happens after the rice has been mixed with the grated coconut and coconut milk.

Following the second steaming, the roasted and ground sesame, is sprinkled on top of the rice with a little touch of brown sugar and all this is mixed up before the dish is served.

A dish is both shiny and bright, with both the dark rice and white coconut having a glossy finish.

One of the few places that aficionados of this dish will recommend is Hoa’s coconut sticky rice stall on Ngo Van So Street. She also sells other sticky rice varieties including the xoi gac (with gac fruit ), xoi do den (black beans), xoi lac (peanuts) and xoi dau xanh (mung beans).

Hoa highlighted one more “difficulty” in making the coconut sticky rice. “Preparing the rice is what takes the most effort, you have to wash very carefully to make sure that every single grain is of good quality.”

Source: Viet Nguyen (VNEXPRESS)

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Food

Coffee that’s been brewing for 50 years in south Vietnam

Customers of a nameless, unassuming coffee shop in An Giang are drawn by the ‘scent of time’ it exudes.

Near the Long Xuyen canal and Ong Manh bridge, Ho Thi Hanh has been running her coffee shop for 50 years. Her café has no sparkling billboard or even a clear address, but its simplicity, neatness, unchanged ambience and special coffee flavor have won the hearts of many customers.

Local patrons refer to the shop “Muoi Ngau café”.

Hanh prepares the coffee after the customers place their order, so that every cup has a fresh, strong flavor. She brews the coffee in an earthen pot on a brick stove fuelled by rice husk. She uses an aluminum spoon to take the coffee powder from a tin container. None of her brewing tools are made of plastic.

Once the coffee is brewed it is strained through cloth mesh before being poured into cups.

Many customers said they can smell the “scent” of time as they wait for and enjoy their coffee.

Before pouring the coffee, Hanh warms the cups by dipping them in boiling water, so the beverage retains its heat and warmth for longer.

There is also a tea pot in the café that is usually refilled with boiled water. Hanh only uses one stove to boil the water for brewing coffee and tea. She is always busy brewing, pouring and serving. In the morning when the place is packed, she seeks some help from her two children.

Despite the incessant work flow, Hanh attends to each and every one of her customers. She can notice who has finished their drink, and promptly refill their cup with coffee for free.

“Should drink some more for fun,” she said, smiling.

At the end of the day, the cloth filters are washed and placed on the side of the house to be dried by the sun and wind that blows from the nearby Hau River.

The café’s takeaway options are simple, too. The coffee is poured into a plastic bag tied with rubber bands. A bag of tea that is double the size goes along.

The shop is part of an old house, with unpainted walls. It can accommodate just three sets of wooden tables and chairs, all weathered by time.

The aroma of coffee has been lingering on the ceilings walls for more than 50 years.

People usually order a hot black coffee with some sugar and ice. The milk coffee here bears the southwestern coffee style: the milk portion almost equals that of the coffee, creating a refreshingly sweet drink.

“In the past, when we first came here and asked her permission to take pictures, she would give us free coffee,” said Phi Thong, 22, a local resident.

A cup of coffee costs just VND5,000 ($0.2). Most of the customers are local workers, who drop by for a takeaway drink in the morning, or sit and relax to get some rest during a long working day.

The café is also the rendezvous for everyone from different walks of life to gather, have breakfast and engage in some chit-chat.

The milk coffee.

Ut, 44, a vendor living nearby, has had coffee from Hanh’s café for more than 20 years. “Every day I buy a takeaway coffee bag. In the past I used to buy it for my dad, but now, I myself enjoy the drink.”

Source: Linh Tam (VNEXPRESS)

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