When we think of Vietnamese food, Pho, Vermicelli and Bun Cha would usually pop up in mind. I arrived knowing I’ll spend days indulging on many many bowls of Pho, only to have discovered so much more. Read on to see what local eats I’ve found around the narrow chaotic streets of Old Quarter, sipping Vietnamese Drip Coffee by the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, and roamed around the luxurious upmarket restaurants in the French quarter.
Where to eat local favourites:
Bún Bò Nam Bô
Service is not what you’re looking for when you enter Bun Bo Nam Bo. Fast and affordable food is. We walked in and pointed at the menu for their signature dish, and within 5 mins the food was served. As a beef lover, Bun Bo Nam Bo immediately became my favourite street food.
Bun Bo Nam Bo, essentially is grilled beef, veggies, herbs, peanuts and crispy onions all mixed together, originally wasn’t a Hanoi creation, however it’s definitely worth visiting this tiny store tucked away on 67 Hang Dieu, these beef & noodles are affordable and a local’s favourite! Be sure to add in fresh lime juice for maximum flavours!
Address: 67 Hang Dieu, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Price: $[Bum Bo Nam Bo Tripadvisor]
Where to eat Classic Vietnamese:
La Siesta Red Bean Restaurant
At Red Bean, every dish is full of flavour, the staff were very enthusiastic in helping us choose our food, and very attentive during the meal. We haven’t really had to chance to try many restaurants like these but this one is definitely worth mentioning, especially their value for money, and their convenient location in the Old Quarter.
Bun Bo Nam Bo (120,000VMD, 41 HKD)
Deep Fried Hanoi Spring Rolls (135,000VMD, 46 HKD)
Featuring: Marinated Pomelo Salad served with prawn, squid, carrots, shallots, rice crackers in sweet and sour fish sauce, a Vietnamese Favourite. Mixed with pomelo juice, this salad is very refreshing on a hot summer day. Costs about 135,000VMD (only less than HKD$50!)
Featuring: I highly recommend this Fresh Sea Crab served with chilli, kumquat, salt and pepper. Such a mouth watering dish, very nicely seasoned and cooked. However for those who don’t like to take apart the crab yourself you might want to opt for something else. The crab costs 650,000VMD (around HKD240)
Price: $$$ (For Vietnamese Standard)
Address: 94 Ma May Street | Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Where to Drink for Coffee Lovers:
Trung Nguyen Legend Café
I may not be a coffee addict, but I certainly enjoyed my time at Trung Nguyen trying out their own personal blend (Ranging from 45,000 – 58,000 VMD) and their Legend Signature Coffee (150,000VMD). There are 5 different blends to choose from, No. 1-5 (1 the strongest, and 5 the lightest), I’ve personally tried and loved No. 3 and 5, but all of my friends said No. 1 blend is the best.
Address: 27-29 Le Hong Phong Street, Doi Can Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam[Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe Tripadvisor]
Where to Drink for Alcoholics:
Polite & Co.
Formerly known as Polite Pub when I visited, this bar is tucked away on the back streets near Hoan Kiem Lake, a popular tourists’ attraction, I’ve as usual checked out this bar two hours before closing, sat at the bar and chatted with the bartenders a bit on their cocktail concepts and choice of ingredients. I think Hanoi has great potential in building up the mixology atmosphere/ standards that Hong Kong have. The pricing was relatively cheap (in comparison to Hong Kong), the bartenders are so enthusiastic in showing us their own signature drinks and listening to our stories from HK. It was a pleasant experience spending my last night in Hanoi there exchanging thoughts on how they could improve their menu and trying many of their signature cocktails.
(My apologies for the lack of pictures… I’ve had more than 10 cocktails here and some pictures I took looked really good when I was tipsy… but not so good when I’m editting….)
Address: 5b Bao Khanh Street | Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Where to get your Massage Fix:
La Siesta Trendy Spa
Cheap Massages are advertised everywhere on the narrow streets of Old Quarter, some even open till very late near the bar areas. However once we’ve accidentally stumbled into La Siesta Trendy Spa, it was safe to say we were hooked.
I’ve opted for the 90 min Himalayan Hot Stone Massage twice. yes I went for it twice because it was mind-blowing. I’ve never liked massages that much, but at La Siesta, they make sure your stiff spots are attended to specifically. The hot stones really help with my circulation, it was really comfortable and has good value for money.
You’ll be greeted by friendly therapists at the Spa Reception, they will give you a health declaration form, where you can specify which areas you would like your massage therapist to work on, and also choose your massage oil preferences. I’ve opted for the Tamanu Oil, after I’ve quickly googled that its benefits extend to a wide range of natural treatments for general scars, eczema and other skin rashes to anti-aging, not to mention it smells great.
There are single rooms and double rooms, and I’ve shared a room with a friend. I’ve definitely missed this Spa and have recommended this place for many of my travel buddies. Be sure to ask for discounts, the receptionists gave us up to 40% discounts on our first visit and 30% discount on our second visit!
The 90 Minute Himalayan Hot Stone massage costs 1075000 Vietnamese Dong (~$370 HKD)
Address: 10 Nguyen Quang Bich street, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam