Friday, March 2, 2018

[Travel/ Food Guide] Itinerary to Hanoi (河内), Vietnam (越南) 2018.

The capital and 2nd largest city of Vietnam, Hanoi is a popular destination amongst international travelers... due to its close proximity to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike Southern Vietnam, Hanoi has 4 seasons and during the colder seasons, it becomes a popular destination for Malaysians. The city has a nice blend of east meets west components... with obvious China-influenced elements. Though there are not much things to see except traces of colonization, the city boasts over a great variety of Vietnamese delights. Many airlines are offering direct flights from Malaysia to Hanoi and that includes our national carrier- Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.

Banh Cuon Ba Hanh
Address: 26B, Tho Xuang Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Rice Rolls

Lemongrass Skewer

Papaya Salad

Set Order (VND 89,000)

Banh Cuon Ba Hanh was an unexpected encounter, we stayed somewhere around the neighborhood during our first night and were recommended this place. Like the name would suggest, the place offers Banh Cuon- Vietnamese Rice Rolls. But it has quite an interesting add-ons... at least uncommonly seen or found in Penang. We enjoyed the Rice Rolls a lot, particularly the dip and the lip-burningly hot chilies. The place is a little hidden but its definitely worth the effort in locating.

Address: 39 Hang Cot, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 8 am to 11 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Che Lutulata (VND 35,000)

Che Ngo Com (VND 28,000)

Che Buoi (VND 28,000)

Che Thap Cam (VND 35,000)

Salted Egg Yolk Chiffon Cake with Meat Floss (VND 35,000)

It's hard to notice Lutulata but once you stepped inside, you will be instantly teleported to a dimension years ago. The cafe is housed in an old house in the Old Quarter of Hanoi so expect a rustic, old-school atmosphere but matched with modern offering. The place offers "Che", traditional Vietnamese desserts served with Coconut Milk and a variety of sweet treats. Though its a proper cafe, the prices are most wallet-friendly... with the cheapest item starts from VND 20,000.

Notable highlights would be their signature Che Latulata, a special concoction consists of creamy Coconut Milk, cooked Yam, desiccated Coconut and topped with crispy flakes. To share, we had the Salted Egg Yolk Chiffon Cake with Meat Floss, a delightful, imaginative Chiffon Cake with sweet and savory combinations.

Cha Ca Thang Long
Address: 19-21-31, Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 8 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Price: VND 120,000 per head

Fried Fish with Turmeric and Dill

One of the most unique Vietnamese delicacies native to Hanoi- Cha Ca  is a stir-fry dish containing Turmeric-marinated Cat Fish cooked with Dill and Spring Onions. And one of the best places at Old Quarter to savor this delicacy would be Cha Ca Thang Long. The place is famous amongst tourists and do not be surprised if the place is thronged by foreigners. The servers understand basic English so placing orders should not pose a challenge. A pot of half-cooked Cat Fish will be served while the fresh Herbs will then be added to the Pot for a quick stir fry.

The flavor combo was complex, unique but worked for us. The Turmeric element did not really stand out, perhaps overpowered by Dill, Spring Onions and Parsley. To enjoy, we took our share of cooked Vermicelli Noodles, a little bit of Fish and Herbs... served with a scoop of their home-made dip... absolutely perfect for a chilly weather. Highly recommended.

Mien Luon Dong Thinh
Address: 87, Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6:30 am to 9:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Fried Eel Balls (VND 25,000 each)

Fried Eel with Glass Noodles (VND 50,000)

Fried Eel with Vermicelli Noodles (VND 40,000/ Soup)

Eel Porridge (VND 40,000)

Speaking of exotic local delicacy, one of the must-haves is the Dried Eel dishes. Mien Luon Dong Thinh is the specialist, the shop only offers Dried Eel-related dishes; ask any locals and they would be able to share with you the location. We recommend Fried Eel with Glass Noodles... chewy-bouncy Glass Noodles lightly dressed in seasoning and served with crisp-resilient Fried Eels. The texture was on the harder side and it was impossible to tell that it was Eel. But the flavor-combo worked, as though we were having noodles with Eel jerky. The extra crunch of fresh Herbs and Cucumber introduced a sleek crunchiness and a burst of juice to the dish. If you are not such an adventurous eater, you may start safe by having the Eel Porridge... a mix of fresh Eels and the crispy Fried Eels.

Banh Cuon Gia Truyen
Address: 12, Hang Ga, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7 am to 1 pm, 5 pm to 11 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 24 3828 0108
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Banh Cuon with minced Chicken (VND 45,000)

Banh Cuon with Shrimp (VND 50,000)

Chicken Pho (VND 45,000)

Recommended by a local, Banh Cuon Gia Truyen is one of the well-known places for Banh Cuon, a type of Vietnamese Rice Rolls. We had both Chicken and Shrimp version but unfortunately, none of them managed to sweep our feet off. We thought they were disappointingly average, we'd prefer Banh Cuon Ba Hanh, the texture seemed to be smoother and thinner to our liking. Ironically, the dipping sauce seemed to have suited our palate more either. The plus here is the availability of Chicken Pho so it can be a relief for non-beef eaters.

Pho Bo Hang Dong
Address: 48, Hang Dong, Hung Bo, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Beef Pho (VND 40,000)

Having used to the Saigonese Pho (Southern version), it does take us a while to get used to Hanoi's Pho. The difference is in the broth... the Southern Vietnamese Pho carries bolder flavors while the Northern version is clearer and purer. In addition to that, the Northern Vietnamese Pho tend to be more minimalist.... on both seasonings and condiments (they do not add Bean Sprouts).

For a bowl of classic Northern Vietnamese Pho, make your way to Pho Bo Hang Dong, a short one minute walk from Banh Cuon Gia Truyen. The place serves up a decent bowl of Beef Pho. Luck was not on our side during our first visit, it was completely sold out by 4 pm! We reached early the next day at 10 am and managed to get a taste on this delicacy. The broth was sleek but clean-tasting, it was easy on the palate but hard-core fans of Southern Pho may find it too mildly seasoned.

Afternoon Tea Indulgence @ Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Address: 15, Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Available from 3 pm to 5:30 pm, daily.
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Government Tax: Yes 5%

Afternoon Indulgence Set (VND 460,000/ inclusive of a choice of Tea)

Champagne (VND 260,000/ a flute)

We were very excited to visit one of the most luxurious hotels in Hanoi- Sofitel Metropole... for an occasional indulgence but the desire turned out to be a great disappointment. For around VND 550,000 (including taxes/ approximately RM 110 per pax), we were served some of the mediocre, sub-standard items (presumably obtained from the Chocolate Buffet spread). None of them was good, not even the Scones. We struggled to finish and thought that this could be one of the worst Afternoon Teas ever (and most expensive... given that inferior quality). Not recommended.

Runam Cafe
Address: 13, Nha Tro, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7 am to 11 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: Yes 5%
Government Tax: Yes 10%

Beef Pho (VND 130,000)

Wan Ton Noodles (VND 110,000)

Crepe with Ham and Cheese (VND 160,000)

Vietnamese Coffee (VND 85,000)

Runam Cafe is quite a big name in Vietnam, the cafe chain has presence over Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi; one of the branches is located near the iconic landmark- Hoan Kiem Lake. The menu features a wide range of both local Vietnamese cuisine and International spread. Since we are in Vietnam, the local delights appealed more to us. We had both Beef Pho and Won Ton Noodles, both were heavily seasoned but still within our acceptable range. Probably not too much on the food, we found the interior decor and setting to be most comfortable, one of the better options to stretch the shopping legs.

Giang Cafe
Address: 39, Nguyen Huu Huan, Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Egg Coffee (VND 25,000)

Egg with Green Beans (VND 25,000)

Egg with Chocolate (VND 25,000)

Giang Cafe is one of the most established cafes in Hanoi, it is known for its Egg Coffee. Accordingly, when the country was in war, the people was too poor to buy Condensed Milk so they had to improvise and come out with their own version of 'condensed milk'.... using Egg Yolks. The Egg Yolk Foam was an interesting touch to the Vietnamese Coffee, the eggy element was bold but backed by a strong Coffee kick, both were vying for attention. Interesting try but I guess I'll stick to the traditional ones. Non Coffee drinkers may opt for Egg with Green Beans and Chocolate.

Bread Street Banh Mi
Address: 97, Hang Bong, Shang Bong, Hanoi.
Business Hours: 6 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Beef Banh Mi (VND 35,000)

Pork Banh Mi (VND 30,000)

Pork Sausage (VND 15,000)

BBQ Pork Ribs (VND 35,000)

Avocado Smoothie (VND 50,000)

Bread Street Banh Mi is not the place for traditional Vietnamese Banh Mi, the chain brand offers Western-influenced Banh Mi such as  Beef Meat Balls with Cheese... or Vietnamese version of Subway Sandwiches. Not too bad for a change but if you are there, do try out their Avocado Smoothie... perfectly creamy and well-sweetened. Some of our partners in crime enjoyed the BBQ Pork Ribs to the brim either.

Che Xoan
Address: 29, Hang Giay, Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 9 am to 11 pm. Opens Daily.
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No

Che Thai Sau Rieng (VND 30,000)

A short walk from the busiest business district of Old Quarter, Che Xoan is a good pit stop for you to recharge and quench your thirst. It occupies a small lot by the road side and offers a variety of local Vietnamese desserts. One of the notable ones would be the Durian series. The magical mix between Durian and Coconut Milk worked for us, with extra teeth-pleasing condiments like Water Chestnuts, Cendol, Attap Chee etc. Not earth-shakingly good but a satisfying treat to be shared.

St. Joseph's Cathedral 
Address: Nha Tho Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam.

St. Joseph's Cathedral is one of the main Cathedrals in Hanoi, it has shades of the French colony and the seemingly faded walls appears to be the perfect spot for portraiture.

Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake
Address: Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Opening Hours: 8 am to 6 pm. Opens Daily.
Entrance Fee: VND 30,000 per head

Ngoc Son Temple

Hoan Kiem Lake

One of the most iconic landmarks of Hanoi would be Hoan Kiem Lake, moving around Hanoi revolves moving around the lake. There are certain historical values in this lake but if you are not into history, the lake is a nice spot for day photography. Standing in the middle of the lake is Ngoc Son Temple, one of the oldest temples built in the 18th century that overlooks the lake. Nothing particularly interesting but if you happened to be there, no harm spending some time exploring the area and pay some respect. Crossing the bridge is free but once you are near the entrance, you will be demanded to show the entrance ticket (VND 30,000 per ticket).

Walking Around Old Quarter of Hanoi:

Festivities around Hoan Kiem Lake on Fridays and Weekends

Vietnamese Pizza (VND 20,000)

Traditional Vietnamese Sweet (VND 20,000)

Preserved Goods

Pickles and Seasoned Fruits

Have Fun Exploring Hanoi!


  1. Been to HCMC many times but never Hanoi, I should plan a trip!

  2. Wow! This is a really good guide! I was at HCM and all I had was street food and random shops. Didn't really went a lot of places to discover diff kind of food there

  3. I love Vietnamese cuisine, would love to go and visit one of these days...but maybe I will start with some places nearer like in our own country. Have not been to Penang for years now... Hint! Hint!

  4. So much nice food to eat - I so love Vietnamese, I sure would not want anything western there.