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The Classic Dishes from Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnamese cuisine is popular the world over, but there is nowhere that you can get close to the wonderful food that is served in Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi. Hanoi is one of the most photogenic places on earth, bursting with colour and activity and that vibrancy is captured in the local food. With a vast network of winding streets dotted with thousands of street food stalls, Hanoi is a delight for every foodie. Whatever your hungry for, you can find it in Hanoi. Below are some of the typical regional dishes that you will find in the capital, every one of them as delicious as the last.
Bun Boe Hue
Noodle soup is a common dish across all of Asia, and Vietnam is no exception. 'Bun boe hue' has it's origins in the ancient imperial city of Hue and is rich with beef and spice balanced with a careful selection of local herbs and citrus juice. 'Bun boe hue' is a popular classic and you'll find it on the menu almost everywhere you go.
'Banh cuon' is a Vietnamese breakfast dish and the perfect way to get into the Vietnamese spirit at the start of your day. It's basically a roll made from rice flour wrapped around minced mushrooms and pork. It might be quite a change if your used to cereal and toast, but once you taste t you'll discover immediately why it is so popular. A similar dish, called 'Banh Mi', uses the same mushroom and pork filling in a baguette. This is a dish that shows the lasting influence of Hanoi's French colonial era.
'Nuoc cham' is one of the best things about Vietnamese cuisine. It's not a dish in itself, but a dipping sauce made from citrus juice, water, hot peppers, garlic and fish. In some parts of Vietnam the recipe slightly changes, but everywhere you go it is often served alongside your meal.
'Pho' is one of the most famous recipes to come out of Vietnam and you will find it being served everywhere you go. Made from slowly boiled broth of beef bones and a variety of spices that vary depending on the chef, 'Pho' is one of the most revered dishes in the country. You need to be aware that 'Pho bo' is the beef version of the dish while 'Pho ga' is the same dish made with chicken. Either way it's absolutely delicious.
Bun Bo Nam Bo
'Bun bon am bo' is a dish that originates from southern Vietnam but has become immensely popular everywhere in the country. You will easily be able to find it at a stall or restaurant in Hanoi. Made up from a tender cut of grilled beef on a bed of noodles with a complex garnish of chopped cucumber, lettuce, papaya, herbs, chopped peanuts, and fried onions and finished off with a delicious, classic fish sauce, 'Bun bo nam bo' is a real crowd pleaser.
Xoi is commonly available from the aptly named 'Xoi ladies' who carry baskets of this delicious and outrageously popular treat with them around the streets of Hanoi. The recipe itself is very simple: lotus root with roasted garlic and fish stuffed into a pile of warm, sticky rice. Eat it with your fingers for the true xoi experience but be prepared to wash your hands clean afterwards.
Nem Cua Be
Western foodies will be able to liken 'nem cua' be to a spring roll typical of Chinese cuisine, and it certainly is a cousin of a spring roll in terms of similarity. There is a difference, however: a spring roll is cylindrical; nem cua be is a square. Inside the flaky square pastry case is a delicious mix of ground crabmeat, mushrooms, pork, and various other items depending on the tastes of the cook. Nem cua be is normally served on abed of lettuce and herbs to counteract the greasiness of the filling. Absolutely delicious and very addictive.
Vietnamese food is world renowned for a reason and while you're in Hanoi you must take the opportunity to sample the delights of the real thing done properly. The classic dishes above are well known to all Vietnamese people but are certainly not the limit of the country's cuisine. As you wander around the markets and street stalls you will find a huge range of delicacies to try, most of which you will be likely to enjoy.