Mentioning Hanoi often evokes images of its ancient town and millennia-old historical monuments. Yet, beyond its historic charm, Hanoi pulsates with the dynamic energy of a city evolving daily. The blend of cultural richness with vibrant, youthful features forms a tapestry of a lively capital, captivating visitors from afar.
Stinky yet delicious, “Bun dau mam tom” is a controversial dish for many travelers and food lovers visiting Vietnam as the pungent shrimp paste is the key to its ultimate flavor. Hanoi locals savor “Bun dau mam tom” a lot since it is one of the best choices for lunch. Is “Bun dau mam tom” that scary? May Silk Path convince you NOT-AT-ALL!
Not a worldwide known dish as Pho, Bun Rieu, small crab noodle soup, is one of the favorites for breakfast of Vietnamese people. It’s another must-try dish for international travelers when visiting Hanoi.
Banh Cuon – Steamed rice rolls
|Banh Cuon, steamed rice rolls, is a dish found in many Vietnamese Northern provinces such as Lang Son or Cao Bang. In Hanoi, Banh Cuon is also a popular dish for breakfast.
What is Banh Cuon?
In Vietnamese, Bánh means Cake and Cuốn means Rolled, Banh Cuon is a type of rolled cakes that is made from a thin, wide sheet of steamed rice batter rolled and filled with seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, and minced shallots. Besides the pork filling, you can also find 2 other pastes as chicken or shrimp; however, Pork Banh Cuon is the most popular one which can be easily found in many corners of Hanoi.
The dish is served with a separate bowl of clear amber dipping fish sauce. Traditionally, this sauce added “cà cuống” (Lethocerus indicus) essence for a better flavor. “Chả Lụa” (Vietnamese pork sausage) and fresh herbs are served on the side.
By itself, the pale white rice batter is silky smooth and soft but otherwise rather bland. This is where the filling & the sauce comes in to lend a solid texture and adds flavor to the roll.
Silk Path’s recommendation
Banh Cuon can be found in many streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, yet here are some of the famous Banh Cuon restaurants that you can add to your Hanoi food tour list:
- Banh cuon gia truyen Thanh Van: 14 Hang Ga Str.
- Banh cuon Gia An: 16 Dao Duy Tu Str.
- Banh cuon ba Xuan: 16 Hoe Nhai Str.
- Banh cuon ba Hanh: 26B Tho Xuong Str.
Egg Coffee, as strange as it sounds, has become a traditional delicacy of in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi.
Bun cha” (Grilled Pork with Rice Vermicelli), one of Hanoi’s most lovable dishes, has received worldwide recognition after being featured on the show Parts Unknown, in which former US President Barack Obama and the host Anthony Bourdain enjoyed this dish together. Let’s find out more about this food bomb with Silk Path!
Best of the best combination
Usually, there are three components to this dish: a bowl of grilled thinly sliced pork belly and/or minced pork patties served in light dipping sauce with pickled veggies, a plate of rice noodles, along with a basket of fresh herbs such as perilla leaves, coriander, and lettuce.
There are numerous varieties but “Bun cha Hanoi” makes up different memories for this dish as many people believe that the Capital City is its origin. Along with “Pho”, “Bun cha” also stands for Hanoi’s stunning cuisine culture which is the perfect combination of rice products, meat, veggie, spices, and local special dipping sauce.
“Bun cha” can be easily found in the hustling corners of Hanoi, from elegant restaurants to simple street vendors in narrow streets, available for all main daily meals. However, the dish is a perfect option when it comes to lunchtime in the Capital City when the mouth-watering scent of grilled pork pervades the ancient streets, which tempts any hungry stomach after a busy half a day.
Silk Path’s top choices
Bun cha Hang Quat
- Address: 74 Hang Quat Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 10.00 AM – 2.00 PM
- From Silk Path Boutique: 1km
Bun cha 34
- Address: 34 Hang Than Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 7.00 AM – 5.00 PM
- From Silk Path Hotel Hanoi: 1.8km
Bun cha Obama
- Address: 24 Le Van Huu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Opening hours: 8.00 AM – 8.00 PM
- From Silk Path Boutique Hanoi: 1.1km
Photos: Heritage – Vietnam Airlines, Bep Xua
Hoan Kiem Lake is located in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi:
- Opposite Silk Path Boutique Hanoi (19 – 21 Hang Khay Street)
- 1.2km from Silk Path Hotel Hanoi (195 – 199 Hang Bong Street)
FACTS & FIGURE
- Area: 12 ha
- Length: 700 m
- Shore length: 1.75 km
- Mean depth: 1.2 m
- Max. depth: 2 m (6.6 ft)
- 3 names: Ta Vong Lake, Luc Thuy Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake
THE LEGEND OF HOAN KIEM LAKE
In the past, Hoan Kiem Lake was once known as Luc Thuy Lake (Green Lake) since its water reflects a mesmerizing green color year-round. Legend said that in the 15th century when Vietnam had been under the oppression of the Northern invaders, the Dragon King (Long Vuong) lent a heavenly sword “Thuan Thien” to Emperor Le Thai To (Le Loi) to fight against the enemy. After successfully chasing away the foreign invaders through the Lam Son insurrection, the country entered a blissful era of peace and prosperity, with the mighty rule of Le Loi. One day, when the Emperor was boating on Luc Thuy Lake, the sacred Golden Turtle (Kim Quy) suddenly surfaced and demanded the return of the heavenly sword that Le Loi borrowed. Le Loi gave the sword to the Golden Turtle. As quickly as possible, the Turtle received the sword and dived into the lake. To commemorate this event, Le Loi renamed Luc Thuy Lake Hoan Kiem Lake (the Return of the Heavenly Sword).
SIGHTSEEINGS AROUND HOAN KIEM LAKE AREA
Ngoc Son Temple
Built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the center of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple is dedicated to the great war hero General Tran Hung Dao, who defeated an armed force of 300,000 Mongolian soldiers sent by Emperor Kublai Khan to invade Vietnam in the 13th century, and the great scholar Van Xuong (Van Xuong De Quan). Ngoc Son Temple has long been one of the most remarkable architectural ensembles of Hoan Kiem District and Hanoi City. The whole complex is well-designed in harmonization with the surrounding landscape. Inside the temple are a large bronze bust and other deities. There are altars dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, some ancient artifacts including ceramics, and a preserved specimen of a giant turtle found in the lake weighing 250kg.
The Huc Bridge
Entering Ngoc Son Temple, visitors will come across The Huc Bridge (The Bridge of the Rising Sun) and walk through Tam Quan (Three-passage Gate). Outside the first gate are two Chinese letters indicating Phuc (Happiness) on the right and Loc (Prosperity) on the left. The Bridge, painted in bright red, which resembles life, hope, and the Sun, has 32 circular pillars made from concrete, wooden floor, and railings, with a touch of parallel and ancient architecture.
The Pen Tower
Behind the first gate of Ngoc Son Temple is Pen Tower (Thap But), a 28m five-storey architecture made from stones and located on Doc Ton Mountain dedicated to literature and poetry. The peak of the Tower has the shape of a feather quill pen pointing toward the sky. Its body is hand-carved with three letters “Ta Thanh Thien” (Written on the clear blue sky), followed by a large Fengshui construction: A second gate with Taoist symbols, also Dragon symbol on the right and Tiger symbol on the left. The last gate has a high wall, roof, and rolling doors. On the roof, there is a large stone representing an ink pot, named Dai Nghien (the Writing Pad or the Ink-slab).
Turtle Tower – a three-storey tower on a large heap of land in the heart of Hoan Kiem Lake, about 350 square meters wide, is a unique combination of local Vietnamese and French colonial architecture and a sacred cultural-spiritual of Hanoi. The tower, built in 1886, gradually narrows to the top since its first two storeys are larger than the third one. The ground and first floors own three doors on the Eastern and Western sides, while two other doors are visible on the Southern and Northern sides. The first and the top floors are fenced with horizontal and vertical rails. A thrilling point lies in the mythical existence of giant hundred-year-old turtles living in Hoan Kiem Lake, by Turtle Tower. In the past, four turtles died: One in 1962 at the Chi Linh flower garden, one is stored in the Hanoi Museum, the other preserved in Ngoc Son Temple, and the last turtle passed away in 2016 and mummified on display at the Vietnam National Museum of Natural History.
Ly Thai To Monument
The Ly Thai To monument is a large bronze sculpture of Emperor Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty and Thang Long Imperial City since 1010, which later became the city of Hanoi. The bronze statue weighs 12 tons, stands at 10.10 meters, and is atop a 20-ton pedestal. The right hand of Ly Thai To holds the Chieu Doi Do (The Decree of the Relocation of the Capital City to Thang Long), and the left-hand points to the location where the construction began. The statue was erected to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Hanoi. It is venerated by the local people with flowers and incense. The monument of Ly Thai To is opposite Hoan Kiem Lake, located in Indira Gandhi Park (Dinh Tien Hoang Street), named after the slain Indian prime minister who was a supporter and friend of Vietnam.
With more than 1000 years of history, Hanoi is the political, cultural, and economic center of Vietnam. Behind every corner of the city is a story about Hanoi – the heart of the country, a part of the glorious history of the Vietnamese nation. Visitors can feel a unique spirit and quaint town atmosphere that cannot be found anywhere else.