We decided to visit Hanoi, Vietnam over the last summer. This spot was a two-year wait for me to schedule my visit to try real Hanoi food. I have a few weeks in August every year and that was the time to book my tickets. I have met many people through my blog, Instagram and Facebook accounts. We had visits lined up several of them to help us see a more personal glimpse of Hanoi.
Hanoi Food Stop 1 – Hanoi La Verticale
Hanoi food at La Verticale was our first stop, located in the Hanoi French quarter. The French influence is obvious as they pull influences from architecture, food and so on. It's an elegant restaurant with higher prices, but they offer a lot of cool features. It's run by the infamous Chef Didier Courlou, who adds a French flavor to their dishes
The restaurant is not a mixture of local and international foods. The specialty is French food with a Vietnamese twist but they still have real Hanoi food as well. This dates back to the French occupation of Vietnam. French food is the greatest gift shared by the French. The restaurant, housed inside a villa and is beautiful as you approach. The walls are white and the floor a lined tile. Being inside and eating was still better, though. We took the stairs to the second floor to enter the magnificent dining area with an open kitchen. The ornaments, made out of teak and other rare wood make you feel at home. The friendly chefs took us into the kitchen for a cooking lesson. They taught us their secret Duck Terrine Plus Rillettes with 5 local spices.
The three of us ordered a huge feast:
Dalat Artichoke Leaves with Veal in Tamarind
Ha Long Curry
Mekong Fruit Sorbet
This is not a budget restaurant but, that was not a problem with the high level of service and perfect food. No regret if you go a little over budget on the first meal.
The French Wine options were:
We opted for the Figaro and had no regrets. The wine complemented the food perfectly. There is also a spice shop on the first floor of the building. I took a look inside and bought several local spices to take home. I had to try the new recipe I learned and these spices are fresh and strong.
Hanoi Food Stop 2 – Highway 4
The next restaurant choice for Hanoi food, named Highway 4, is a traditional Vietnamese establishment. The decorations were traditional Vietnamese with floor cushions, bamboo furnishing, and local artwork. The 15-year-old restaurant is one of the most popular in Hanoi. The cushions were nice due to the low Vietnam styled tables. The business designed its menu for traditional large family gatherings. The food is all prepared with local spices to reflect the Hanoi food Vietnamese style.
The dishes are also separated into different groups like wood, metal, fire, and water. These names come from the way they prepare the food, like boiling it or cooking it on fire.
My friends told us to try the catfish spring rolls, which were to die for. After that, we had some grilled pork hanger steak, which was tender and moist with meat juice. The meat always prepared mid-rare, so the meat is actually pink on the inside. One of my guides likes to order crickets with roasted lemon leaves for special nights.
We had the crickets and I had my first crispy cricket, not bad but not an everyday menu item for me.
They serve a large assortment of wine but the local favorite is ‘Sonh Tinh' flavored liquor. We opted for that choice over others and I had no regrets.
Hanoi Food Stop 3 – Pots ‘n Pans
Our last day over there, it was finally my time to choose a place to eat at. I asked them to take us to a fast food place for real Hanoi food street style since I was already missing my typical food. They took us to Pots ‘n Pans, which was a real treat. They specialize in food, which is flavored with international influences from everywhere. I tried their famous spy steak, it was cooked to perfection.
My friends chose Pan Fried Foie Gras prepared with the House Cured Duck Prosciutto. They added Mango Mint Chutney, Beetroot puree, and Black Sesame-Brioche.
It's an affordable place to try out for a change, bringing you the best from all over the planet. They provide a perfect feel for a local establishment and they are always filled with locals. Going back to Hanoi is a vow I intend to keep. Hanoi hasn't let me down in one single way.
Our Favorite Recipes From Our Visit That You May Like
As always we try to get the original recipe as we're able to do with the Highway 4 Catfish Spring Rolls in this article. We, of course, cannot usually do that and we have to come home and take the recipe we have tried that was the most like our local dish. Not the same but if you do wish to try them they are listed below and many of them are close fits to the Hanoi food we enjoyed so much.
After sampling Hanoi foods, where to next?
Check out Hanoi For A Low Budget