Hanoi (CNN) — When former President Barack Obama traveled to Hanoi in 2016, he famously joined the late Anthony Bourdain for a meal of bun cha, a beloved native specialty made up of bits of marinated, charcoal-grilled pork patties and pork slices in a dipping sauce with rice noodles and herb garnishes.

After which after all there’s the world-famous pho. Made with rice noodles, this beef noodle soup is a must-try on the streets of Hanoi — to not point out available abroad.

However there’s way more to the town’s numerous meals scene.

Listed below are 5 dishes each Hanoi customer — not simply international leaders — ought to strive. (And sure, we all know, we have barely scratched the floor. For extra wonderful meals, take a look at our listing of 40 delicious Vietnamese foods.)

Cha Ca (fish cooked with turmeric and dill)

Chả cá is a vermicelli noodle dish with turmeric-spiced catfish.

Chả cá is a vermicelli noodle dish with turmeric-spiced catfish.

Dan Tham

Hanoians think about cha ca to be so distinctive that there’s a highway within the capital devoted to those fried morsels of fish — Cha Ca Avenue.

Alongside the busy highway, the place spiderwebs of uncovered electrical wires grasp overhead, dozens of specialists compete to promote the very best cha ca — crispy turmeric-marinated fish that is fried tableside in a pan with herbs.

Probably the most well-known restaurant on this strip is Ca La Vong — one of many oldest eateries in Hanoi — and the primary to arrange store on Cha Ca Avenue, over a century in the past.

The dish itself dates again greater than 130 years. It was first invented by the native Doan household, who served the particular meal to troops throughout French colonial rule.

Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca Avenue, Hanoi

Banh Tom (shrimp cake)

For Hanoi's best fish cakes, head to Thanh Nien Street.

For Hanoi’s greatest fish desserts, head to Thanh Nien Avenue.

Christina Choi/CNN

Deceptively time-intensive, Hanoi-style banh tom, or shrimp desserts, have just some fundamental substances: freshwater crayfish or shrimp from West Lake, flour and candy potato.

As an alternative of grinding the shrimp right into a paste (like a fish ball), the fried seafood is often left entire — sitting atop the crunchy desserts.

It is sometimes served with lettuce leaves for wrapping, plus chili, lime juice and fish sauce for dipping.

Banh tom is assumed to have turn out to be frequent within the 1930s when small avenue distributors started congregating alongside Thanh Nien Avenue — a highway that separates West Lake (Tây Hồ) and Trúc Bạch Lake.

When the hawkers garnered reputation, the federal government later mixed most of the stalls and opened one large restaurant alongside the waterfront.

Enter Banh Tom Ho Tay. At present, the restaurant stays a fixture on Thanh Nien Avenue and nonetheless attracts a gradual stream of pals and households, gathering for sluggish afternoons stuffed with crispy, savory shrimp desserts, chilled bia hoi (native draft beer), and front-row seats to the lake.

Bun Ca (fish noodle soup)

Bun ca is a popular choice for lunch in Hanoi.

Bun ca is a well-liked alternative for lunch in Hanoi.

Dan Tham

Recent and light-weight, bun ca combines fried fishcakes, dill, tomatoes, inexperienced onions, and perilla — a mint-like herb.

A lunchtime staple in Hanoi, you will discover bun ca (fish noodle soup) nearly anyplace.

However Mark Lowerson, founding father of Hanoi Avenue Excursions, factors to a vendor west of the Previous Quarter known as Van, that makes a speciality of the dish.

“This is among the greatest on the town,” he tells CNN Journey. “There are two sorts of noodles, after which your alternative of steamed or fried fish.”

Whereas in different international locations, including salt may very well be thought of an insult to the chef — Lowerson says that is not the case in Vietnam.

“Right here, you might be anticipated to make use of the condiments on the desk,” he explains.

“Add somewhat lime, vinegar, chili and herbs to realize the important steadiness of salty, bitter, candy and spicy.”

Bun Ca Van, 105 Quán Thánh, Hanoi, Vietnam; +84 167 937 7964

Bun Rieu Cua (crab noodle soup)

Crabmeat is the star of Bún riêu -- a meat or seafood vermicelli soup.

Crabmeat is the star of Bún riêu — a meat or seafood vermicelli soup.

Dan Tham

Bun rieu is a meat or seafood vermicelli soup with a particular crimson coloration. The broth will get its look from tomato paste and annatto oil, constituted of achiote tree seeds.

Freshwater crabmeat and blanched tomatoes are the soup’s star gamers. Tamarind paste lends sourness to the broth, whereas ethereal bits of fried tofu contribute crunch.

Relying on the area, bun rieu may additionally come topped with beef, pork, snails or fish.

Vermicelli noodles swim within the soup, including steadiness to a dish that is each colourful and light-weight. Add to that the requisite plateful of lime wedges, chili and greens — like banana blossoms and mint — and you’ve got an ideal meal.

The place to strive it? There’s a superb bun rieu avenue stall run by Ms. Thu, situated in Thọ Xương Alley, close to St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

Ca Phe Trung (egg espresso)

Would you want some eggs together with your espresso? In Hanoi, ca phe trung — or egg espresso — is a neighborhood favourite.

Vietnamese “egg espresso” — or Ca Phe Trung — is a Hanoi specialty wherein a creamy comfortable, meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese espresso.

Whereas locations throughout the town now serve it, Hanoi’s humble Cafe Giang cafe claims to have invented it.

There are cold and hot variations. The previous is served as a yellow concoction in a small glass. It is consumed with a spoon and tastes nearly like a espresso flavored ice cream — extra like a dessert than espresso.

The recent model comes resting in a small dish of scorching water to take care of its temperature. The robust espresso style on the backside of the cup seeps via the egg — the yellow layer on high — and is sort of thick and candy, although not sickly.

Cafe Giang, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Grasp Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; +84 98 989 22 98

CNN’s Dan Tham, Kate Springer, Karla Cripps and Halima Ali contributed to this characteristic.


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