Sauce – A drop of love for a Vietnamese Soul


When the society has developed to a certain extent as we know today, the more we hear those definitions such as “art” posted to everything we do in life. From the most basic thing in the growing chain of humanity such as eating is now called with a more “dainty” name as “the art of eating”. Or simply speaking about communication, which is merely the most original and fundamental activity in the existing functions of humanity is now accompanied by the word “art” as the “art of communication”. It seems that everything we do in society nowadays must bear “the art”, or “be artistic”. Probably, to many people, the fact that the word “art” emerges from everything that they do, creates the class, which means “no art, no class”. To some others, art must and originally itself bear the aestheticism, it must convey something known as the soul and the thoughts of the one who uses art as a means along each of their most fundamental activity. Then, in the end, to actually think about it, about what art really is, we assume that it is something that is much simpler than that. However, as people say: The simpler it gets, the more sophisticated it truly is.

If you are someone who loves foods and flavors, even if you are not, you then realize, or probably have, the omittance of just one kind of spice in a first class dish in a first class restaurant by a first-class Michelin will turn one’s seat in a 5-star restaurant to a seat at any streetside food stall. And of course, the dish then is not the dish that is widely praised anymore. Just like “from hero to zero” in a blink of an eye. Well, this is mostly true applying to any types and kinds of different countries’ cuisine. However, today is not the day for global cuisine but just Vietnam cuisine. Because you know, the hard criticism goes to the critics. As we have just gone through a bundle of things about art, spices for particular, you must have realized how important that spices are. Maybe it is why we commonly hear people go to their lines on the movies like “you should add some spices to your life”. Just imagine a world without spices, how boring is it gonna be? Well, also for Vietnam cuisine, “nước chấm” is like a kind of spice that without it, Vietnam cuisine will be as boring as it can be, as dishes without any salt. So let us find out about this interesting Vietnam food tour right now.

1. What is “nước chấm”?

Well, actually “nước chấm” is the sauce that you foreigners usually use. However, we do not use the word “sauce” here because it does not describe exactly what “nước chấm” is all about. In another way, “nước chấm” is a kind of sauce but not just any kind of it. You see, there are many kinds of sauce, but mostly, they are in the form of thick soup not just completely watery. For Vietnamese, when using the word “nước chấm”, people will easily draw their minds to the kind of sauce that is made mostly from water, which is watery but not that thick as sauce, for example, ketchup that you are used to knowing. In addition, if you mention “nước chấm” with just any Vietnamese, most of them, probably up to 90 percent of Vietnamese will come up with “nước mắm” – fish sauce, or something similar to that. The reason for this is that many Vietnamese kinds of nước chấm are made in traditional ways from nước mắm, which means they include salty, sweet, and sour flavors.


Vietnamese fish sauce

Of course, each different dish has its own type of nước chấm, but most dishes use the same salty-sweet-and-sour-flavored sauce that we have just mentioned above because its flavor simply fits with just any kinds of dishes. If you come to Vietnam without trying any kind of nước chấm, it will be such a great loss. Many people also comment that Vietnam cuisine without nước chấm is not Vietnam cuisine anymore. For example, the renowned West Lake Shrimp Cake. Obviously, the delicious cake is the first factor creating the popularity of the dish itself. However, what differs West Lake Shrimp Cake to any kinds of shrimp cakes in Hanoi or other places is the small bowl of nước chấm. In fact, the reason why West Lake Shrimp Cake is so popular is the absolute appetizing sauce that fits with the taste of mostly Northern people. And about how well it fits Northern people’s taste, we will save that for later.

2. The history of Vietnamese “nước chấm”

In our opinion, the history of all kinds of sauce in Vietnam derives from fish sauce because it was the first sauce to appear on our land. On discovering the culinary tour in Vietnam, you see that many people love fish sauce or basically, it just appears in most every dish that you try in the country. Sometimes, you even find that it is so talked-about and question yourself of its charisma. And then, you started to conceive yourself that Vietnam is the homeland of fish sauce. Nevertheless, the reality is always completely different from what we have thought or imagined. According to some documentaries, fish sauce was first born in Carthage, a republic country in North Africa, now is a part of Tunisia. From 2nd Century B.C, the locals of Carthage came up with the brilliant idea of embalming the sea fish with salt, combining with the heat from the Sun of Mediterranean Sea to create such wonderful Carthage sauce, which was not only used but was also sold to their neighbor countries from across the Mediterranean Sea. Later on, just until the appearance of the Silk Road, did the sauce get into China and Japan through the path and was favorably used in these two countries.


Chili fish sauce

About the part of Vietnam, there is no such documentary recording when and where the fish sauce appeared in the country, except for some mouth-to-mouth documentaries stating that Vietnamese learned to make fish sauce from the Chăm (Urang Campa). Especially at wars in Vietnam, when meat and fish were perceived as “luxury”, our ancestors, grandmothers, and grandfathers had to mix white rice with some fish sauce to eat in order to add more flavor to the plain dish since there was hardly any food. Well, this is right, to most well-off families at that time because in fact, poor families did not even have enough rice to eat for a household that had too many children, and people started to add other things in such as corn, potato, and cassava to the rice. Anyway, back to the point, because of what we have just told, lots of Vietnamese people, mostly middle-age such as our parents and elderly such as our grandparents still have the habit of mixing some fish sauce with the rice as a “must-have spice” every time they eat, in spite of what meal it is. Our youngsters do not have that kind of habit, and some may even find sauce fish is quite salty to eat with white rice, from those successors, we find that fish sauce is such a fundamental spice to the life of each Vietnamese.


Tamarind sauce

So, the fish sauce has gone through such a long history of its own, at least 1.000 years. Despite the fact that fish sauce was first to be found in Africa, brought to the hands of the European then finally spread to Asia; despite Chinese and Japanese having come to use fish sauce before Vietnamese for 500 years; despite Korean, Thai, Filipino nowadays still use fish sauce in their cuisine, fish sauce is still the quintessence and the sign of Vietnam cuisine.

3. What is Vietnamese “nước chấm” like?

Honestly, there is no such thing as the “standard” for a bowl of nước chấm in Vietnam because basically, each person has his or her own different taste and people also like making sauce “by hand”. “By hand” here means using none of the assistance such as scale or tools to weight the amount of spices needed but just making a rough estimate. This is true for most households in Vietnam when our parents cook, they also use the same method. We do not know how about the restaurants, maybe they still use scale and tools, or maybe the chefs have been familiar with making the sauce by hand but still remain the same flavor in every dish.


Cham Cheo – a special sauce of Vietnamese Northwest

Although there is no standard for a bowl of sauce, in each region, the sauce has its own characteristic that meets with the taste of the people living in those places. In this part, we will not mention this but will go through it in the next one. Basically, you just need to know that there are a million types of sauce so, in fact, the “standard” is also diverse. However, in Vietnam, as we mention, most sauce, not all of them, is watery. Each time we eat something that needs sauce, we will just make some, probably half or one-third of a small bowl of sauce. However, to dishes, which use much sauce or use it as the main ingredient such as bún chả or bún nem, depending on the number of eaters, the maker will decide to make more or less sauce because the sauce is now used as a kind of soup adding to the dish.

4. What are the types of “nước chấm” in Vietnam?

As we say, there are many kinds of sauce and their tastes also diversify amongst regions.

In general, Northern people would like the flavor to be “just enough”. It is slightly hard to imagine what the extent of “just enough” is but frankly, there is probably no word can describe it more clearly. “Just enough” here means all the flavors go just well with one another, not too salty, not too sweet and not too sour. Some people who like it to be a little bit spicy can add chili sauce or sliced chili to the sauce. We can say that Northern sauce is quite easy to eat and mostly everyone like it because all the tastes are “just enough”. If you like it to be more salty, spicy, sweet or sour, you can add sugar, salt, chili or vinegar to the bowl.


Ginger sauce

For Central people, spiciness is just their thing. Therefore, all their dishes including sauce are also spicier than usual. Their dishes are also affected slightly by the flavor of the South so they are quite sweet. In general, most Northern people do not like Central or Southern sauces because they are either too sweet or spicy. Of course, they are just a few examples because most restaurants know how to please the guests from all over the country despite, the sauce can still be a little bit sweet compared to the taste of the North.

The South, as above, love the sweet flavor so their sauce, as well as most dishes, are all slightly sweet compared to normal. Just a little off topic, even the sour soup of the South is too sweet. Hardly can you find that sourness that you have been looking for in a Southern dish. However, if you like sweet, Southern and Central cuisine will be the best.

Below is a list of some typical kinds of sauce in each region in Vietnam so let us take a look.

The North

The first name in this list must definitely be mắm tôm – shrimp paste. Shrimp paste is one of the most popular kinds of sauce that you can only find in Vietnam and is also used in many dishes, such as bún đậu mắm tôm. You must have come across this name for a thousand times because the dish is truly talked-about and of course, it is also one of the greatest specialties in Vietnam. And the ingredient that contributes to the name of bún đậu mắm tôm is, of course, mắm tôm. If you love it, it will be like heaven. If you do not like like, you will like to stay away from it a thousand miles. It is similar to the case of durian. There are people who are addicted to it and there are people that only seeing it makes them sick. Not everyone can eat mắm tôm because of its smell, some people say that it is really stinky! Mắm tôm is simply made from fresh shrimps and embalmed with salt, after being fermented will bear a very “unique” smell. In the North, people think that the longer the shrimp paste is fermented, the better the flavor. If you have tried bún đậu mắm tôm, you will find that in the shrimp paste, there is not only the paste but also other ingredients such as green lime, sugar, sliced chili, and a layer of frying oil put on the top of the paste. When using the dish, all you have to do is stirring everything together. The fact that these ingredients are added into the paste is because the original smell of the paste is not so bearable to some people, by adding other ingredients, the flavor is also enhanced and the smell is acceptable.


The delicious bun dau mam tom

Mắm cáy is another special sauce of the North derived from Thái Bình. This sauce is made from the meat of cáy – a kind of crabs living in the coastal area. The meat will be embalmed with salt, put in a sealed pot and aired under the Sun for about a week. After a week, alcohol ferment is added into the pot of mắm cáy. The taste of the sauce is very special and can be used alongside noodle and boiled pork.

The Central

Since the Central is a coastal area and is rich in seafood, most kinds of sauce in the region are derived from marine ingredients.

Mắm cái is one of the favorite sauces of the Central people, made of anchovy – a kind of sea fish. The sauce is mostly used in Quảng Ngãi region and can be used along with many different kinds of food such as fermented rice sheet, boiled vegetable, and boiled pork.

Sour shrimp paste is another typical sauce of the Central that you should definitely try once if you have the chance to visit this place. Sour shrimp paste or mắm tôm chua is probably the most popular in Huế. Sometimes at night when you are wandering around on the cyclo, the drive will take you to the ancient Áo Dài Street where you can find the placing selling sour shrimp paste. The paste is made of fresh shrimps soaked in wine and salt, then galingale, garlic, sugar, and fish sauce are added in the last stage of fermenting. The paste takes a long time to be done and can be used with many dishes such as boiled pork. You can even eat the sauce as a separate dish because there are shrimps in it so it is not different from a shrimp dish.


Sour shrimp sauce mixing with papaya

Mắm nêm is a very popular sauce of the Central, especially in Đà Nẵng City. The sauce is specially made for using with rolling fermented rice sheet with pork. The sauce is made of fish embalmed with salt for about three months. The flavor is absolutely outstanding and the original sauce is usually added with pineapple, sugar, chili, and green lime. Actually, mắm nêm is also widely used in the South but the taste is sweeter compared to that of the Central since they use more pineapples and add more sugar to the sauce.


Mam nem

There is also many other kinds of sauce in the Central that you can try out like squirt sauce or oyster sauce.

The South

On arriving in the South, you will find that this place has a great system of streams and rivers. And because the South also has many big coastal cities, it gives the region a rich source of seafood. This is why most of the sauces in the South include ingredients from the sea and rivers.

Mắm rươi is a widely known sauce from Trà Vinh. The sauce is made of rươi, a creature living in the rivers with the scientific name Nereididae. Just like other sauce, mắm rươi is also made in the traditional way, which means rươi meat is embalmed in the pot with salt and water, then put out under the Sun for about half a month. Mắm rươi is easily recognized with the honey color and light scent. When you use mắm rươi, you just only have to add some lime juice, and sliced chili, if you like it to be spicy, to the sauce and use it with boiled dishes.


Mam ruoi

If sour shrimp sauce of the Central is made from shrimp, mắm còng from the South is made of còng – a kind of crab easily found in the river with the size is relatively bigger than a small crab. Mắm còng is the typical sauce found mostly in Southwestern provinces such as Long An or Tiền Giang. The meat is embalmed in the pot with many different traditional ingredients, including the secret ones from each sauce maker. The fermenting time for a pot of mắm còng is around 45 days. You can use the sauce with boiled dishes or simply add it to bún riêu – riêu noodle, in which the main ingredient is crab, it will help enhance the flavor.

As you see, there are hundreds of different sauce kinds in Vietnam and each of them has its own variant. This is why people usually say nước chấm is the soul of Vietnam cuisine. For its variety, Vietnamese sauce can be used with just any kinds of dishes from the simplest to the most sophisticated, from homes to the most famous 5-star restaurant.

5. The importance of “nước chấm” in the life of Vietnamese

Despite in normal meals at home or in a big party in such luxurious restaurants, sauce is something that cannot be omitted. A full meal in Vietnam does not only have delicious foods but also a bowl of sauce to add up the spice. It can be a bowl of chili sauce, ginger sauce, shrimp sauce, garlic sauce, or just any kinds that can be used alongside with the dishes. Although sauce is just something you regard as the “side-kick” of the main course, it is actually what makes the dishes what they are. This reminds us of the story about salt. When the King asks his daughters “how much do you love me?”, while the two sisters say they love their father as diamonds and gold, the smallest one says that she loves him as much as salt. Obviously, this put the King in rage because comparing to diamonds and gold, salt is such something regarded as “invaluable”. However, in the party to welcome the prince from the neighbor country, the prince helps the princess by making the King realize how important salt is in our daily life by requesting to eliminate salt in every dish. Only until then does the King realize how terrible and boring a dish is without salt as how such a simple thing can make so much change.


Simple meal with sauce

For Vietnamese, a small bowl of sauce owns the same power like a dish of fried fish cannot be perfect without garlic sauce or a tray of bún đậu mắm tôm cannot be used without a bowl of shrimp paste. Of course, it is not like that some Vietnamese will die without their nước chấm but sauce is really fundamental in our life. Nước mắm is not only just a side dish to Vietnamese. If people from other countries regard nước chấm, for example, nước mắm as the solvent as the Korean use fish sauce in making Kimchi, or the Thai just use fish sauce for spring rolls, Vietnamese use fish sauce as a solvent, a spice, and also a delicious and separate dish. Through such a long time of history, nước chấm has gradually developed and become a significant part to the bones of Vietnamese. It is also a great feeling to see how far it has made its way through more than 1.000 years and until now is still gratefully and respectfully treasured by all Vietnamese, not just merely food lovers.

We hope that through this journey, you will find how various and beautiful our country’s cuisine is and maybe in your next trip to Vietnam, you can have the chance to try out different kinds of sauce in our country to find out the greatness hidden in this small bowl.

Recommended long-standing food vendors in Hanoi Old Quarter


You might think of Hanoi as an utterly mind-boggling cacophony of traffic, noise, and scents but there should be a reason for people to go on their Hanoi day tours! And Hanoi’s food is one of the key attractions.

Situated in the heart of Vietnam’s chaotic capital city, the Old Quarter serves up a taste of Vietnam’s best street food. At any time of the day, there is a meal awaiting on your food tour in Hanoi. Expect everything from all kinds of noodles from pho, banh da (rice noodles) through to porridge. Just wander around to see what takes your fancy and happily enjoy a taste of Northern Vietnam.

Phở gánh (Pho ganh)


Pho ganh Hang Chieu

Indisputably one of the most iconic Vietnamese foods on an international level, pho is everywhere you go in Vietnam. But not all restaurants in the capital city offer the same flavor. Pho ganh, whose only star is Vietnam’s national noodle soup, is thought to serve the authentic flavor of Hanoi’s style pho. The open kitchens allow diners to admire the cheap bowls of soup with ultra-fresh ingredient and slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth slices of beef are prepared before being brought to the table and served hot with chili and lime juice.

The vendor boils her noodle broth only a few hours from 3-4.00.A.M. to 7.00.A.M. making it a popular address among the city’s late eaters and Hanoians who wake up early to do exercises. If you want to try, make sure to get up early or stay up late! Here, you can slurp down your own hot bowl of pho without concern about table manners. Just grab yourself one paper napkin or two to mop up any ensuing mess, swirl on your chopsticks and chow on down. A Hanoi classic dish, pho is what you should not miss on any food tour in Hanoi.

  • Address: Hang Duong – Hang Chieu Intersection
  • Operating hours: 3.00.A.M – 7.00.P.M.
  • Average cost per person: VND 25,000 – 40,000

Bánh đa trộn (Mixed rice noodles)


Banh da tron

If you do not like pho, no worries! Head over to 42C Ly Thuong Kiet Street. A popular lunch staple among not only local senior citizens but also teenagers and food lovers, the bowl itself embraces a staggering choice of fresh vegetables, meat, lean pork paste, fried fish, tofu, bean sprouts, tasty sauce, roasted peanuts, and fried onions that the vendor prepares and serves herself right on the pavement. That’s why we call it Hanoi street food! The fantastic variety of ingredients is sure to make connoisseurs please. Avoid lunchtimes unless you particularly crave the crush of hungry crowds.

  • Address: 42C Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District
  • Operating hours: 11.00.A.M. – 06.00.P.M.
  • Average cost per person: VND 30,000 – 50,000

Cháo sườn cô Là – rice porridge with pork spare ribs


Chao suon

Rice porridge with pork spare ribs is Hanoian’s favorite snack food and everyone in the capital city has an opinion about where the best cháo sườn in town can be found. There are many excellent options around town, but a very respectable example of the specialty can be had from the stall of Ms.La on Quan Su Street, in the Old Quarter.

Popular with locals for more than 20 years, Cháo sườn cô Là is perpetually busy with a queue of hungry diners ordering cháo sườn to eat on the plastic chairs or even to take-away. Pretty healthy and packed with loads of nutrition, a bowl of porridge topped off with quẩy – a kind of fried breadstick is heartwarmingly good, especially during winter!

  • Address: Quan Su, Hoan Kiem District
  • Operating hours: 3.30.P.M – 5.30.P.M.
  • Average cost per person: VND 25,000 – 30,000

Although touristy, Hanoi Old Quarter has some lovely food stalls selling a diverse range of authentic treats and delicious snacks, from noodles to porridge, and more. Arrive feeling adventurous… and hungry. Vendors are packed close together promising you an unforgettable Hanoi food tour. All you need to do is follow your nose, wander and graze on whatever takes your fancy, and eat where the locals eat.

Bia hơi on Ta Hien Street – a unique experience for beer lovers


Like áo dài in term of Vietnamese traditional dress and phở in term of Vietnamese traditional food, beer has always been an important part of our country’s culture—especially “nhậu” culture. For more than 100 years, craft brewers have quietly begun a revolution in our S-shape land, pushing new extremes with the way people drink and think about beer.

Pack your bags and go on a tour to Hanoi, Vietnam – one of the best beercation destinations for 2018.

Yes, there are obvious Vietnam beer travel destinations to go on your Vietnam culinary tours, like Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, and even Halong Bay. And there are bucket-list beercations abroad, like Laos and Thailand. But for the beer lover looking to delve a little deeper into craft beer culture, Hanoi capital city has long become a prime destination for beer travel. Have never tasted beer yet? Come to Hanoi. You will definitely fall in love with it!

Where to say cheers?


Ta Hien Street

From a burgeoning gypsy brewing scene in Ho Chi Minh metropolis to the emerging craft brewery taprooms among the ancient houses in Hoi An, a lot of destinations in Vietnam are ripe for discovery. But while you are in the capital city of Vietnam, Ta Hien Street – “bia hơi street” must be the first place for you to say cheers.

Also, fun fact: Ta Hien the “Fresh Beer Crossroads/ Street” is only almost 270 meters long but packed with beer drinkers and a few plastic tables and chairs with the simple design. Expect to see the beer lovers – both locals and foreigners – filling the city’s backpacker strip every night.

If you love beer, Ta Hien breweries are the best places to satisfy your thirst for traditional beer culture on your Vietnam culinary tours. Even when you have willingly drunk your way around the globe, not until coming to Hanoi can you find some golden colors to the house of the best beers in the world.

Which kind of beer to order?


What kind of beer to order?

Even though many pubs in the Old Quarter try to cater to Western taste and Western version of a good night out by offering imported beer like the expensive beers from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic or Vietnamese beer brands like Hanoi, 333, and Saigon, bia hơi – Hanoi fresh beer is the most favorite one. It is bia hơi that rivals Hanoi’s enthusiasm for alcohol. Local varieties are mostly served on tap. After ordering, you will be served craft brews drained through a plastic tube from a barrel of beer.

Average Price for a Pint


How is beer enjoyed in Hanoi?

Certainly easy to find everywhere, beer has long been an irreplaceable part of Vietnamese culture and drinking beer is a way of life in Hanoi. On per headcount, a cup of beer in Hanoi – the cheapest beer in the world costs an average of VND 12,000 (about USD $0.5). Do you know that street drinking is the norm, especially in the humid and hot summer months? With only USD $1, you can soak up flavor for hours paired with foods like lạc luộc (boiled peanut with shell) or nem chua rán (fried sour rolls) served fresh at a reasonable price.

How do Vietnamese enjoy the bia hơi culture?


Beer is a part of Vietnamese culture

To add to its appeal besides the cheap price and unique flavor – rather light, not pungent, the exotic ambiance in the beat of live music provokes beer lovers all over the world and even the ones with their first glass of beer to have one more. Sunday afternoons in the glow of the sunset are best enjoyed with a glass of beer with your best friends. However, Vietnamese practice “bia hơi culture” in every corner at any time.

Take a seat, order a glass of beer, watch the city lights up, listen to the sound of the streams of vehicles running across the street in a hurry, it is your fantastic chance to see the beautiful and lively image of Hanoi as well as delve into a complete blend of Hanoian and foreign culture.

How to fully enjoy your Hanoi day tours? Make sure to take time to discover the different ways Hanoians and travelers enjoy beer. Well, Ta Hien Street in the Old Quarter must be your place to visit for sure on your Vietnam tours.

Name some well-known hipster café shops in Hanoi


Nothing better than starting your day in Hanoi with a cup of coffee in a café shop. Today, with Hanoi day tours, we are so excited to recommend you some must-come hipster coffee shops (classic café shop with soft music) in Hanoi.

The Kafe Village


The Kafe Village

Born after the success of The Kafe Dien Bien Phu which is the first Kafe in Hanoi, it is said that The Kafe Village is just another copy of the previous one. Nevertheless, the Kafe Village has its own unique things attracting people and becomes one of the best coffee shops in Hanoi.

Different from the Kafe Dien Bien Phu, one of the most crowded streets, the Kafe Village located on a quiet corner. Being not as modern as The Kafe Dien Bien Phu, The Kafe Village is a villa with old French architecture style, so quiet and peaceful.

Let image, you are in this villa and enjoy the fresh tea or a set of dessert, what a pleasant feeling. Some people said once coming to this coffee shop, they wanted to go back many times.

The menu here is quite special as there are traditional Vietnamese dishes alongside European ones. The shop has completely created its own mark, attracting young people with nostalgic gout. So if you want to find yourself some quiet moments to get away from the city busy life then do not hesitate to come here.

Cong café

Cong café with its fancy shop design is a favorite hipster cafe in Hanoi. Perhaps, not any café shops can replace this gorgeous Cong café.


Cong Café

Cong café is a chain café shop in Hanoi with the main style in Hanoi subsidy period. Stepping into the shop, visitors will feel like having walked through the magic door. From that door, they back to the past, when Phoenix car is popular. If you guys pay attention close to the small details of the shop, you can definitely feel the breath of the old time through the decoration.

If you want a luxury place with a luxury menu, Cong is not your good choice. Since in Cong café, you will have a back to the past adventure. Every dish in Cong café’s list is all about the childhood desserts. It can be a good deal or bad but somehow creates Cong café’s specialties.

One good thing about Cong café is the shop’s atmosphere. In the early of autumn, the sun is shining. Sometimes we can feel the cool breeze in the air lightly grazing our skin. Nothing special than having a cup of coffee or tea and look at the Hanoi streets. It is kind of an odd but cool experience when you imagine you are in the past and see the present in a dream.

La Place

It is the last one in the list of café shop of our Hanoi day tours. Some people wonder the origin of the shop but nobody knows, including the people in this shop. They only know that this shop has been existing for a long time, no matter how the world changes every day out there, La Place is still there. It still stands there to be an evidence of the young age of many generations in Hanoi.

La Place is a European style cafe located on Au Trieu Street. At first, La Place was as tiny as a small cave. Rêcntly, it has expanded to the next house for more space. But even in the old time, the owner of La Place knew how to arrange the space to make it wider. Guest coming to this place was overwhelmed since the shop is scamped but not cramped.


La Place Café

The tables near the balcony are the travelers’ favorite seat. From there, they can see the Cathedral loosely in the trees. What a poetic view, right? As the perfect view, the tables near the balcony are called the golden chairs and they are usually full.  However, you can choose the seat on the second floor with two rows of orange smooth salons. It is an ideal place for those who love reading in free time.

These are some famous well-known hipster coffee shops beyond plenty of others that we want to introduce to you. Hope that you will have your relaxing time in day tour in Hanoi with these coffee shops.

Top famous street hotpot in Hanoi


Hotpot is extremely popular in Vietnam, especially on the occasion of gathering family or friends. Despite summer, you still want to enjoy this contemplating dishes. Today we are so happy to introduce you to some favorite kinds of hotpot that you cannot help in the capital of Vietnam with Hanoi street food tours.

Snail hotpot

Although snail rice noodle is well-known, snail hotpot is quite strange to many people. This dish is the combination of spicy and sour taste, boldly possesses the Vietnam cuisine. Besides the main ingredient is snails, in the hot pot, there are also fried tofu, beef, spring roll, bacon and so on. It will be more delicious when served with other vegetables such as perilla, salads, and bananas flower. When having the chance to come to Hanoi, you should not miss this special food.


A delicious snail hotpot that you cannot refuse

You can visit street stalls in Khuong Thuong alley on Truong Chinh Street or To Hieu Street to enjoy this delicacy.

Fresh-water Crab HotPot with Beef and Pork Rib

You can enjoy this dish in all 4 seasons of the year. It is not only extremely delicious but also not to be repulsive in spite of eating many times. The soup has the special taste of crab and the sweet fragrant smelt from a distance that will make you crave to it. The rib cartilage in hotpot must be soft and crunchy; and the beef must be the best shank beef, after being sliced and soaked in the soup, they can be eaten immediately. Food lovers can eat this hotpot with any kind of vegetables but the indispensable one is thinly chopped banana flower.


Must-try fresh-water crab hotpot with beef and pork rib in Hanoi

If one day you suddenly do not know what to eat in Hanoi, let try this Fresh-water crab hotpot with beef and pork rib on Nguyen Du, Phan Boi Chau, Kim Ma, Pho Duc Chinh with only VND 300,000 for 4 people.

Kèo fish hotpot

This is a popular dish of Southern Vietnam and now introduced to Hanoi. The difference of this hotpot is the taste of River-leaf creeper (lá giang) – the leaves are only seen in the South of Vietnam, beyond the sweet and sour taste.


Kèo fish hotpot – a specialty in Southern Vietnam

Kèo fish – a type of catfish with approximate 15 cm in length is a favorite fish in the Southern culinary. This fish meat with its aromatic taste, eaten with knotgrass (rau đắng) and bananas flowers would make people cannot forget once having a try.

Keo fish hotpot is extremely delicious, but the price is quite expensive since most of the ingredients must be transported from the South. A kèo fish hotpot is about 300,000 VND or more.  You can drop by some stalls on Van Cao Street, Nguy Nhu Kon Tum, Lang Pagoda or Tang Bat Ho… to enjoy the best ones.

Beef vinegar hotpot

This one is the great combination of hotpot and roll. Its soup is sour by vinegar and has the fragrance of citronella and coconut. Beef used for this hotpot must be sliced shank beef or tenderloin. These slices after being launched quickly in the hot soup would be rolled by Vietnamese dry pancake (bánh đa) and other vegetables. A dish of sauce made of small fish or shrimp will be the highlight of this hotpot.


The irresistible beef vinegar hotpot in Hanoi street stalls

With about VND 400,000, visitors in a group of 4 will get your belly full of food. Let come to Tran Xuan Soan, Doc Ngu slope, Huynh Thuc Khang or Hoe Nhai to enjoy this strange hot pot.

Duck hotpot

Duck hotpot is the best ideal for travelers when taking a trip with family or friends since it is not delicious but also nutritious. It is usually served with spinach to be more aromatic, but the “main” vegetables are swamp cabbage (rau muống).


Duck hotpot for those who are fans of duck

You can enjoy delicious duck pot in Kim Ma, Yen Phu or Giang Vo. The price of a duck hotpot for 4 people is quite soft, only about 200,000 VND.

Hope that with this Hanoi street food tours, you guys will have an interesting food exploring!

Top 10 vegan restaurants in Hanoi (part 2)


There is a stereotype of vegetarian food being very boring but the best food tour in Hanoi will change your mind. Forget the carnivorous palate and enjoy top 10 best vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Vietnam’s capital city!




There is no shortage of reasonable Vietnamese vegan menus in Vietnam’s capital city, but vegan pizza, and even Thai-style curry? You will only find elevated versions like that at The VEG – ORGANIC VEGO & TEA – a mix between a restaurant and a tea/coffee house.

A pioneer of farm-to-table vegetarian cuisine, the Veg has been co-operating with many organic farms where organic vegetables are grown – without the use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and growth hormone. The menu is prix-fix, and regularly reviewed and changed to accommodate the freshest seasonal ingredients. Moreover, a special weekly menu for families is designated for a group of friends of a family.

  • What you are getting: Lacto, Ovo, Pizza, Organic, Salad bar, Juice bar, Delivery, Take-out, Vietnamese, Asian, and European cuisines.
  • Address: 18 Hang Chinh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00am-11:30pm Mon-Thu, 8:00am-12:00am Fri-Sun
  • Contact: +84869933133

Com chay Nang Tam


Com chay Nang Tam

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, Com chay Nang Tam is a gem of a restaurant which will not leave you compromising taste – with its mommy-style home-cooked menu. Well-known for Vietnamese hospitality at its fullest and its awesomely honest and attentive staff, this 23-year-old restaurant takes traditional, authentic Vietnamese fares and creatively turns them into bold and mouthwatering vegetarianized versions that still pack the same punch. Find a hungry friend to go on a Hanoi food tour, split the feast for two, and find yourself treated to the extensive menu of over 80 dishes. The large soup bowls are great for sharing, like the mushroom soup, bamboo shoot soup, or salted mustard soup, but for something a little heartier, go for the excellent banana flower salad with pineapple, sweet corn cakes, or fried vegetable spring rolls.

  • What you are getting: Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Address: 79A Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm Mon-Sun
  • Contact: +2439424140

Loving Hut


Loving Hut

Every month, on the 1st and 15th days of the lunar calendar – the 2 most important days in the Buddhist religion, there will be a vegan buffet during lunch and dinner priced at VND 100,000 (~USD $4.4) per person. At this top-notch Vietnamese treasure, guests enjoy at least 25 dishes that marry flavors and techniques perfectly, for a unique overall experience.

  • What you are getting: Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Address: 147B Au Co Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 7:30 am – 10:30 pm Mon-Sun
  • Contact: +84 024 66518946

Minh Chay


Minh Chay

Minh Chay is legendary among vegan restaurants in Hanoi. For over 20 years, the restaurant right next to Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in the Old Quarter has been serving excellent wholesome, organic, plant-based dishes. The menu is seasonally driven, and changes often to reflect the fresh local produce. Fusing flavors and preparations from Vietnamese and European cuisines, the dedicated chef and staff at Minh Chay provide an experience that is unexpectedly creative. Pho, ginger and lemongrass tofu and mushroom dishes, etc. will surely hit the spot.

  • What you are getting: Vietnamese cuisine, fusion.
  • Address: 09 Au Trieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm Mon-Sun
  • Contact: +981234545

Dieu Tam


Dieu Tam Restaurant

A small vegan buffet-style com binh dan restaurant run by a Buddhist family, Dieu Tam offers an inventive and flavorful menu to win the battle of carnivore hearts and minds. A mixture of salad, vegetable, soup, and mock meat dishes with a choice of white or brown rice with black beans, plus tea get huge marks for culling tremendous flavors from their Asian influences and are a reason enough to go on a Hanoi food tour.

  • What you are getting: Vegan, Buffet, Take-out.
  • Address: 133 Nguyen Dinh Thi, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 10:00am-2:00pm Mon-Sat

Whether you are a vegetarian or a curious carnivore, top 10 vegan restaurants will give you memorable experience on your Hanoi food tour.

Top 10 vegan restaurants in Hanoi (part 1)


If you do not like meat for a satisfying meal, there has never been a better time to be meatless in Hanoi. With a wide variety of influences, innovative twists, and world-class preparation, there is much more than salad in the top vegan restaurants in Hanoi. We earmark 10 of the fantastic examples of vegan restaurants city-side. Herbivores, it’s high time to go on Hanoi food tours and rejoice!

Tinh Thuc Quan


Tinh Thuc Quan

Even non-vegetarians know Tinh Thuc Quan. The vibe is casual with traditional dishes made from fresh, local, all-vegan ingredients on the giant menu. Of the wide variety dish options for the buffet, the tofu- and veggie-packed soul bowl is a healthy pick while colorful and beautifully crafted fresh spring rolls are what your chopsticks should dig into. If you still have room, try the perfect violet glutinous rice with yogurt (sữa chua nếp cẩm) for dessert.

  • What you are getting: Vegan-friendly, Chinese, Vietnamese cuisine, lunch and dinner buffet.
  • Address: 10 Huynh Thuc Khang Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm; 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm daily
  • Contact: 0986612893

Sala Quan Vegan Restaurant


Sala Quan Vegan Restaurant

A small, elegant destination for plant lovers with the very antique interior and wooden furniture, nestled in an alleyway on Ngoc Ha Street, Sala Quan Vegan Restaurant is one of the most popular choices for a Hanoi food tour. Waits for buffet meals can get painful (as this kind of menu is served only on the 1st and 15th days of the lunar calendar), but patient non-meat-eaters are rewarded with pomelo salad, mushroom tempura – some of the most favorites among the regulars there.

  • What you are getting: Vegan-friendly, Vietnamese cuisine, breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.
  • Address: Alley 170, Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 9:00 am – 8:30 pm daily
  • Contact: +2437228857

Jalus Vegan Kitchen and Café


Jalus vegan kitchen and cafe

Jalus Vegan Cafe is a quintessential Hanoi Old Quarter restaurant—a tiny, romantic eatery with an earthy design where veggies are turned into complex dishes. The owner and chefs here are serious about their food, from 100% organic and MSG-free ingredients to all made-to-order dishes.

  • What you are getting: Vegan, Organic, Pizza, Western, Juice bar, Delivery, Take-out, Catering, Fusion.
  • Address: 46 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm Tue-Sun
  • Contact: 0432669730

Uu Dam Chay


Uu Dam Chay

Where to eat for vegetarians or for those who are looking to take a break from their carnivorous diet? It should be Uu Dam Chay Restaurant – a fine-dining destination lives up to both its impressive design with a green garden and water stream making it by far the classiest vegan restaurant in town and its giant menu.

Whether you are having your meal in the indoor garden on the 2nd floor or the art gallery on the 1st floor, you will find vegan-friendly ingredients transformed into fresh or deep-fried spring rolls, phở, bún chả, bánh xèo, macadamia pineapple fried rice, hotpots, and soups that are all beautifully presented. For dessert, the sweet soups await.

  • What you are getting: Vegan-friendly, Vietnamese and Western cuisines.
  • Address: 34 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 7:30am-9:30pm Mon-Thu, 7:30am-10:00pm Fri-Sun
  • Contact: 0981349898

An Lac Chay


An Lac Chay

A pioneer of the restaurant serving a vegetarian buffet fueled by the ambition to make people crave vegetables, An Lac Chay is a place to go on a Hanoi food tour. The pho, selection of salads, spring rolls, hot dishes such as crispy fried noodles and mixed rice stand out among over 50 delicious, healthy vegan dishes, while desserts include large selections of fresh fruits.

  • What you are getting: Vegan, Buffet, Salad bar, Juice bar, Vietnamese cuisines.
  • Address: 109 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem District (at Le Duan), Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 9:00am-2:00pm, 5:30pm-9:00pm Mon-Sun
  • Contact: 043 6330695

A large number of superb vegetarian restaurants across Hanoi means you need never worry about where to eat for vegetarians or settle for a steamed-vegetable platter again. Dine at one of these top vegetarian and vegan restaurants for the best food tour in Hanoi!

5 Best Pork Rib Porridge (Cháo Sườn) Locations in Hanoi


The beguiling call of comfort that a bowl of pork rib porridge brings, especially when you are feeling sick, is a simplistic joy that will instantly brighten up your day, no matter when you have it. And as Vietnamese cuisine connoisseurs, we have piled up a list of pork rib porridge spots in Hanoi for you to enjoy this simplistic meal on your Vietnam culinary tours.

Ta Quang Buu Street


Pork rib porridge on Ta Quang Buu Street

With only USD $1 and a belly craving a bowl of porridge, where should you go? It should be the small porridge stand on Ta Quang Buu Street, Hai Ba Trung District. Cooked from only the traditional ingredients including white rice and spare ribs, cháo sườn here seems to come out on top with the judges for color, flavor, consistency, and, of course, reasonable price.

Hang Bo Street


Pork rib porridge on Hang Bo Street

Whether you are searching for a simple morning meal or a chance to experience the way other cultures eat breakfast, the best porridge recipe at hang Bo Street might have you craving mush every morning. This hearty porridge sold at the stand on the sidewalk of Hang Bo Street, Hoan Kiem District is bolstered by fried dough sticks (quẩy) and enlivened with salted shredded pork (ruốc). As this famed porridge location is so small but it has a long queue no matter the time of the day, get ready to arrive early to have your own bowl of cháo sườn. However, the congee is undoubtedly worth the wait.

Cháo sườn cô Là (Mrs. La’s Porridge) – Ly Quoc Su Street


Mrs. La’s spare rib porridge

In spite of its appearances, porridge does not have to be bland or boring. And making a great bowl of plain- and simple-looking porridge can also be a bit challenging. Once Hanoians have their grain base, they can go wild with toppings, whether it is ruốc (dried shredded pork), quẩy (fried dough sticks), sườn sụn (costal cartilage), or thịt xào (stir-fried meat), etc. A full bowl of warm porridge at cháo sườn cô Là is perfect for your breakfast, whether it is summer, winter, fall, or spring.

Cháo sườn sụn chợ Đồng Xuân (Dong Xuan Market)


Pork rib porridge in Dong Xuan Market

What is cháo sườn or pork rib porridge and why is a delighted Hanoian flying home with it after beating the Saigonese in their own backyard? You will have an idea after ordering a bowl of pork rib porridge at Dong Xuan Market. It is Hanoian-styled congee, one with the soft grains with the taste of pork ribs in harmony with the naturally sweet taste of rice and the spicy taste from a pinch of pepper that will send warmth to your soul. Porridge found in Dong Xuan Market is thicker and gooier than other kinds of delicious congees you might have ever tried in Vietnam. So hold on tight and get ready to melt into a very satisfying meal.

Tran Xuan Soan Street


Spare rib porridge on Tran Xuan Soan Street

Sometimes, you want nothing more than a warm bowl of porridge. Why not get to the famed spare rib porridge with the 30-year history on Tran Xuan Soan Street, Hai Ba Trung District? Unlike the other locations on our list, cháo sườn here is a little more expensive (VND 28,000 (`USD $1.2) per bowl). But the abundance of ribs (3 times more than other places) is well worth. Sprinkled with well-stewed ribs and copious amount of salted shredded pork and crispy fried dough sticks, it is made to be an excellent example of Hanoi-style spare rib porridge.

What do you know about Vietnamese porridge? Is it only the traditional category with each contender only using rice, salt, and water? For all Vietnam street food you have ever tried on your Vietnam culinary tours, the big prize really goes to the best bowl of pork rib porridge available in Hanoi. The simplest of dishes make you go home with the biggest impressions.

Try a glass of Hanoi cheapest beer in your Vietnam culinary tours


You might have heard a lot about the variety of unique streets food in Vietnam. Taking Vietnam culinary tours to enjoy a glass of the world’s cheapest beer in Hanoi is a great experience.

Among many places to visit in Vietnam, Hanoi is one of the most famous destinations for any visitors. In Hanoi, people can drink beer for whatever reason, whenever they are happy or sad as long as they sit with their friends. Sometimes they just have to be alone with a cold white foam beer. Especially, on sunny days, the pavement stalls are very crowded.

Beer-in-Ta-Hien -hellovietnam

Beer in Ta Hien

You don’t have to go to the large air-conditioned restaurants or VIP rooms. In Hanoi, it is easy for you to find a pavement beer to branded beer such as Hanoi, Viet Ha, Viet France that is very popular. Beer stalls in Hanoi are often pavement stalls or places with spacious spaces. Unlike other drinks, beer drinkers prefer to sit in a comfortable place so they can freely talk and express their emotions in the glaze over simple sets of tables and chairs, not formal or picky style. In addition, beer brewing places in brewing Hanoi culture are so popular that diners can easily choose any corner and feel free to pick up tables without booking or pre-paying. Guests of these beer sales are mainly men from 30 to 70 years old regardless of position. The ambient air with many people around eating, talking, laughing, etc. makes you feel that life in here is bustling. Hanoi day tours seem to be very interesting, right?


Food to eat with beer

In recent years, along with the development of a variety of beverages, especially the appearances of many kinds and brands of beer, people have made a lot of new beer glasses to put into use. There are two main reasons. The first one is the aesthetic cause and the other is the safety factor. The cups with straps are becoming popular because they are eye-catching and relatively easy to handle as well as take away.

Although there have been many changes, the brewery of Hanoi “true” today still maintains and keeps the use of a single cup to drink beer – cup jar. The image of beer cups, along with the flow of history, has been in use since the 1960s up until now. It is still one of the first images to be mentioned when someone thinks about the cheapest beer in Vietnam. When people find the features of Hanoi culture, they may think that the most unique culture in here is beer culture. It seems to be that Vietnam culinary tours are something attracting everyone. Therefore, on your tour to Hanoi Vietnam, you must try food and beer, especially for beer, you have to go to a truly local beer shop.


Cup of drinking beer

In addition to that, drinking beer on the sidewalk is very cheap, only about 7000-9000 dong/cup. The locals often prefer sitting down on the popular sidewalk. They sit down on the chair and drink a glass of beer placed on the table, take a few sips and stand up to go back. The simple habit like that can make them extremely happy and comfortable.

People can easily see in the street corners, where the groups of people drink beer comfortably without distinguishing social classes. The brewing culture of Hanoi has no caste distinction between the rich and the poor, no rules prohibiting people to drink beer. In the subconscious of people who have gone through the corner to drink Hanoi beer, you just visit a small restaurant and call yourself a glass of cold beer with a roasted peanut. That may be enough for you to forget temporarily your difficulties in busy daily life.

Unlike many other countries that you visited, beer in Vietnam has no music, no television, but only the chattering voice. This must be a great experience in your Vietnam tours.

The top Hanoi street food


If you have the opportunity to travel Vietnam on the occasion of Tet holiday you will witness a slight increase in most prices of goods from 5000 VND to 10000 VND. That is what surprised many visitors to join the Hanoi food tour.

However, on workdays, prices of Hanoi street foods are decreased and kept quite stable..

Let’s take note the following information because we will give you guides to Hanoi and what to eat in Old quarter.

Drink egg coffee


Egg coffee in Hanoi

Coffee can be found anywhere in the street from the airport to train stations or hotels. You can enjoy this drink throughout the journey to explore Vietnam. However, stopping in Hanoi, diners have to try the coffee at the Old Quarter Cafe in Hang Gai street once. There are many ideal seats for guests both watching Hoan Kiem Lake and drinking coffee. 

Noodle with stir- fried beef & roasted peanut of the Southern
(Bún bò Nam Bộ)

Hanoi Old Quarter is home to many noodles restaurants for guests to choose. We suggest one of the most prominent places to eat is the Southern beef rice noodles in Hang Dieu. 


Southern Beef noodles

The Southern beef noodles includes fried beef with many kinds of raw vegetables, roasted peanuts, onion,garlic mixed with sweet and sour fish sauce

  • Address: 67 HangDieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: Morning to evening
  • Price: 60,000 VND / bowl

Refresh yourself with beer

Hanoi is one of the most popular places to drink beer in the world. Every day, this drink offers discounted hours that attract many people.


Hanoi beer

About 5 p.m, mostly men gathered around the plastic table and sip a glass of cold beer. In Hanoi, visitors can visit a corner of West Lake to get into the local air, drink beer with dishes such as noodles, grilled pork, fish, or grilled chicken.


Red river tea room

Located in a narrow alley in Au Co Street, visitors can find the Red River Tea Room. This is an address to serve beer and wine that are produced manually in Vietnam attracting crowds of foreign visitors in Hanoi food tour.

Rice noodles with grilled meat in Hàng Mành street

For the followers of this Hanoi street food, Dac Kim noodles restaurant at the top of Hang Manh Street is no longer strange. With a relatively small area, at peak hours, diners have to go to the upper floor or sit on the sidewalk.


Rice noodles with grilled meat

The restaurant was opened in the early 1960s. At present, the takeover is the next generation in the family. Pork should be lean and fat meat mixed. After initial processing, meat is spiced carefully and then baked on the charcoal stove. Each of the noodles bowl here is priced from 50,000 to 60,00 VND.

Steamed glutinous rice in Hang Bai street

Two loads of steamed glutinous rice have been familiar with the people in Hang Bai street over the past 20 years. Located at the corner of Hang Bai – Ly Thuong Kiet crossroads, loads of  Mrs. May’s steamed glutinous rice consist of two big baskets with several bags. Customers buy this dish on the way to school, work mostly in 7 a.m.


Sticky steamed glutinous rice

Sticky steamed glutinous rice is soft and fragrant, wrapped in fresh banana leaves, the layer of “xéo”- made from the green bean is fragrant, or corn kernel. The full dish is priced at 10,000 VND. Salted shredded meat and onions are made manually by the host to keep the taste intact.

Snail noodles in Hang Chai street

The three-generation noodles restaurant of Mrs. Them is the famous cuisine of Hanoi as well as what to eat in the Old Quarter.

The wait for 15-20 minutes to eat the bowl of noodles is very normal. The characteristic feature of Hang Chai noodles is only noodles, snails and spices accompanied with green onion, tomato. The broth is clearer, and sourer than other places but still very frugal, sweet and tasty.


Snail rice noodles

The restaurant is open from 7h to 13h. Coming to the restaurant that’s always busy, you have to find the parking- lot. A bowl of noodles is about 30,000 VND.

Sweet gruel in Hàng Cân street

Open before 1975, this is considered as one of the oldest sweet gruel shops in Hanoi Old Quarter. Although there are indoor tables and chairs diners still prefer to sit on the sidewalk to watch the street and enjoy sweet gruel.


Sweet gruel in Hang Can street

In the summer, you can enjoy the sweet gruek of green peas, black beans, coconut lotus seeds, pearl tea … In the winter, the restaurant change the menu with bà cốt sweet gruel (made from expanded glutinous rice), Stuffed sticky rice balls, lục tàu xá

  • Address: 4 Hang Can Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Opening hours: 9am – 10pm
  • Price: 15.000 – 20.000 VND / cup