22. Sticky rice with mung bean and fried shallots (Xôi xéo)
Sticky rice with mung bean and fried shallots has been one of the most favorite foods of Hanoi people for many years thanks to low price, fulfillment, and great taste. The food consist of yellow steamed sticky rice which is topped with buttery well-kneaded cooked peeled mung bean, crispy fried shallots, greasy rendered fat. They soak sticky rice in water mixed with turmeric powder to make it yellow. The turmeric powder also enhances the flavor of the sticky rice. Sticky rice with mung bean and fried shallots is usually kept warm in a steamer or a basket. Wrapped in banana leaves, a portion of Xôi xéo with the shining bright yellow sticky rice, the light yellow mung bean, the brown-yellow fried shallots, and the green banana looks charming and delightful. By the way, I would like to explain why this food is called Xôi xéo in Vietnamese. “Xôi” means steamed sticky rice, “xéo” means cut in English. Vendors usually form mung bean into balls and use a knife to cut it into slices, top the slices on to the steamed sticky rice wthe food is ordered.
23. Sticky rice and sweet soup (Xôi chè)
In Hanoi, they love to eat Mung bean coated sticky rice (Xôi vò) with sweet soups such as Expanded sticky rice sweet soup (Chè bà cốt), Young green sticky rice sweet soup (Chè cốm), Mung bean sweet soup (Chè đỗ xanh), Black bean sweet soup (Chè đỗ đen). When eating, mix the Mung bean coated sticky rice with the sweet soup. The sweet, viscous, and hot broth of the sweet soup plays off the dry, buttery, and cold Mung bean coated sticky rice. Most of the Vietnamese teamed sticky rice are sticky and not dry. The dry Mung bean coated sticky rice goes well with sweet soup. This is a perfect mix of two familiar Vietnamese foods. Although both steamed sticky rice and sweet soup are popular around Vietnam. Only Hanoi people eat them together. A portion of Sticky rice and sweet soup is cheap but delicious, warm and fulfilling. Sticky rice and sweet soup is one of the most favorite foods of Hanoi people when it becomes cold.
24. Ke Ga sticky rice (Xôi Kẻ Gạ)
Ke Ga sticky rice has won the hearts of Hanoi people as well as visitors from other regions of Vietnam and other countries thanks to its fragrant, sticky, round, not mushy, not too dry not too moist. It has been an elegant food of Hanoi people for many years. Ke Ga sticky rice is cooked from Golden flower sticky rice which is grown in Phu Thuong Ward, Tay Ho District, Hanoi. In recent days, many families in Phu Thuong make their livings on cultivating sticky rice, cooking and selling Ke Ga sticky rice. There are many kinds of Ke Ga sticky rice: Sticky rice with mung bean and fried shallots, Sticky rice with various kinds of beans (mung bean, black bean, etc.), Sticky rice with sesame and coconut, Sticky rice with Gac – a fruit which has red to orange flesh used to enhance the flavor of the sticky rice and make it orange. All of the ingredients should be chosen carefully. The water used to cook Ke Ga sticky rice should be clear. The cook should set the oven not too low not to high. If the heat is too low, the sticky is not sticky enough and not cooked thoroughly. On the other hand, the sticky is burnt over high heat. The sellers usually wrap Ke Ga sticky rice in fresh lotus leaves, banana leaves, Phrynium Pplacentarium leaves.
25. Pyramid rice flour dumpling (Bánh giò)
Pyramid rice flour dumpling is wrapped in banana leaves and has a pyramidal shape. Its smooth and soft crust is made from rice flour and tapioca starch, its filling is made from pork, wood ears, shallots, onions, quail eggs, black peppers, fish sauce, salt. Leaf of apple banana is the best wrap. The most important step of making this dumpling is mixing the batter. The cook should follow a right ratio of the rice flour to water so that after steaming, the crust should be smelling, very soft and can melt it the mouth but not moist and mushy. All of the ingredients for the filling should be ground or minced, cooked (usually stir-fried) until medium-rare. The cook should skillfully wrap batter and the filling into a pyramidal shape. The dumplings are boiled in water for about 40 minutes. This kind of dumpling should be eaten hot so that sellers always keep it in steamers. Pyramid rice flour dumpling can be served with chili sauce. Eaten with Fried cinnamon pork pate, Fried young green sticky rice cake, Vietnamese pork roll, cold cuts, pickles, coriander, it tastes greater.
26. Vietnamese salted rice flour cake (Bánh đúc mặn)
Vietnamese salted rice flour cake has many version including salted and sweet ones. Hanoi people have created a Salted rice flour cake which has a soft texture, mild flavor. It is topped with herbs, fried shallots, wood ears, stir-fried ground pork, and served hot. One of the highlights of the food is sweet and sour dipping sauce which goes well with the steamed rice flour cake and toppings. The salted rice flour cake has been a specialty food of Hanoi, a favorite food of Hanoi people, and a should-try food for travelers to the capital for many years.
27. West Lake fried shrimp cake (Bánh tôm Hồ Tây)
West Lake fried shrimp cake has been in the hearts of most people in Hanoi thanks to cheap price and tasty. Walking along West Lake – the symbol of Hanoi, you can see tens of street food stalls selling crispy, yellow, and smelling fried shrimp cake. To make this cake, mix a batter from tapioca powder and wheat flour. Use a small ladle to get some batter, put a marinated shrimp in the middle of the ladle, fry the ladle with batter and shrimp in oil until crispy and yellow. One of the highlights of this cake is that the shrimps used to make the cakes are caught in West Lake, the shrimps have thin shell, firm, sweet-tasty, a little greasy flesh. The cakes are usually served with sweet-sour fish sauce dip and various herbs. Some vendors add shredded sweet potatoes to the batter to enhance the flavor of the cake.
28. Khuc cake (Bánh khúc)
The key to this cake is “rau khúc” (Gnaphalium affine D. Don) which has a typical taste, smell and is in green color. It takes many steps to make this cake. Harvest fresh green young rau khúc leaves in the morning, steam them until well-done, then pound them until well-kneaded. The pounded leaves are mixed with rice flour to make the crust of the cake. To make the filling, steam peeled mung bean until tender, pound it into a smooth mixture, mix the mung bean with cubed pork belly, black pepper. Form the pork belly and mung bean into small balls, wrap each ball in rice flour and rau khúc mixture, cover each of them with sticky rice, then steam them for about 45 minutes. The harvest season of rau khúc is February and March in the lunar calendar. They usually dry the leaves in order to store it for a long time and use the dried leaves to make the Khuc cake in other months of the year. The sound of vendors offering Khuc cake and the image of street food stalls which serve Khuc cake have become familiar to Hanoi people.
29. Thanh Tri stuffed rice pancake (Bánh cuốn Thanh Trì)
“Thanh Trì có bánh cuốn ngon
Ăn vào mát ruột mắn con chồng chiều”
(“In Thanh Tri there is delicious stuffed rice pancake
It can satisfy your taste, make your husband love you more, help you have many children”)
Thanh Tri is a district of Hanoi, it has been famous for the best stuffed rice pancake in Vietnam. Khang Dang rice which is smelling and a little sticky is chosen to make stuffed rice pancake by Thanh Tri people. Soak the rice in water for 2-3 hours, grind it with water into a smooth mixture. Steam a very thin layer of the mixture using a pot which contains water and is covered with a thin cloth and a lid. The water in the pot should be kept boiling. When the layer of rice flour mixture is well-done, use a bamboo chopstick to put it onto a plate, apply the rice flour sheet a thin layer of scallion oil, then fold the sheet into a long thin rectangle. Thanh Tri stuffed rice pancake is not stuffed with a filling made from pork and wood ear like other kinds of stuffed rice pancakes. It is served hot with deep-fried tofu, Uoc Le pork cinnamon pate, fried shallots, herbs, and a great sauce made from fish sauce, sticky rice vinegar, chili pepper, scent of giant water bug (tinh dầu cà cuống). The highlights of the cake are soft and a little sticky texture and great smell.
30. Quan Ganh round sticky rice cake (Bánh dày Quán Gánh)
Quan Ganh round sticky rice is made in Thuong Dinh Village, Nhi Khe Commune, Thuong Tin District. Ingredients for the crust is white, sticky, fragrant sticky rice which is grown in Hai Hau District, Nam Dinh province. The sweet cake is filled with mung bean, coconut meat stir-fry. The savory cake is filled with mung bean, pork belly, coconut meat, and black pepper. It takes not less than 20 steps to make this traditional cake. The sticky rice is steamed, pounded until very smooth. Wrap the filling in pounded steamed sticky rice, then wrap the cake again in banana leaves into a square. Thanks to the great taste, Quan Ganh round sticky rice cake has become a favorite gift, a food at important occasions such as wedding, death anniversary. Talented Hanoi cooks have created a perfect cake from familiar and cheap ingredients. Unwrapping the cake, the smell of banana leaves and the sticky rice spread in the air, the shining white crust is revealed. Eating the cake, you can feel the stickiness of the crust and the buttery taste of the filling.
31. Tranh Khuc square sticky rice cake (Bánh chưng Tranh Khúc)
Tranh Khuc village, Duyen Ha Commune, Thanh Tri District, Hanoi has been famous in Vietnam and other countries for one of the best square sticky rice cakes. Every year, at Tet festival, families in the village have made tens of thousands of sticky rice cakes for domestic sales and export. At this time, the village is busy, noisy and crowded. Square sticky rice cake is one of the most famous traditional Vietnamese cake. It is a must cake in Tet festival – the biggest traditional festival of the country. Square sticky rice cake represents for the Earth and piety according to a famous legend about Lang Lieu prince who created and offered Square sticky rice cake to Hung King – Lang Lieu’s father and chosen to be the new king thanks to the excellent recipe and his piety. Besides Square sticky rice cake, Lang Lieu also offered round sticky rice cake which represents for the sky to his father. The cake has a square shape and consists of the Dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaf wrap, sticky rice crust, and filling made from pork belly and mung bean. It is boiled in water for more than 6 hours and can be stored for up to one weed at room temperature.
32. Grilled wheat flour and lime leaf cake filled with pork belly (Bánh chả)
The cake is called “Bánh chả” because it looks like “chả” – patty. The cake has a crispy, light sweet crust which melts in your mouth when eating. Lime leaves which have typical taste and smell make the crust special. The cake is filled with fatty and greasy pork belly, Chinese sausage (lạp xưởng), and crunchy sweet icing wax gourd (mứt bí đao). The cake is one of the oldest cakes in Hanoi. Although the cake is simple, it is a favorite cake of many families in Hanoi at Tet festival, an offering to the ancestors, a part of the rich culture of elegant Hanoi. Eating some Grilled wheat flour and lime leaf cake filled with pork belly while sipping some green tea is the way Hanoi people entertain.
33. Pillow cake (Bánh gối)
They call this cake Pillow cake because it looks like a beautiful semicircle-shaped pillow. The cake’s crust is made from wheat flour, sticky rice flour, and oil. The filling is made from pork, cellophane noodles, shiitake, wood ear, kohlrabi, jicama, carrot, quail egg, shrimp, etc. After wrapping the filling in the dough into a semicircle, fry the cake until crispy and yellow. The outer part of the crust should be crispy, the inner part of the crust should be tender and sticky. The cakes are usually served with herbs, pickled carrot and daikon radish, and a dip made from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chili pepper. Pillow cake is considered as “cake for the winter” in Hanoi. Do not miss eating warm crispy Pillow cake when you are in Hanoi in the winter.
34. Gia village sticky rice and Boehmeria nivea dumpling (Bánh gai làng Giá)
Sticky rice and Boehmeria nivea dumpling is wrapped in Boehmeria nivea leaves and has a square shape. Made from sticky rice flour, sesame, and Boehmeria nivea extract, the dumpling’s crust is smelling, tender, sticky, smooth, and in black color. The sticky rice flour is made from Golden-flower sticky rice – the best sticky rice in Vietnam. The crust is not too thick but not too thin. The filling is made from pork fat, banana extract, coconut meat, peeled mung bean, wax gourd, sesame, lotus seed. Pork fat is cut into small pieces, marinated with sugar until the pork fat becomes transparent. Coming to Gia village, Yen So Commune, Hoai Duc District, Hanoi, do not miss tasting awesome cakes and buying some cakes to bring home.
35. Husband and wife cake (Bánh phu thê)
Husband and wife cake is a square cake which is wrapped in banana leaf and dong leaf (Phrynium placentarium leaf). The sticky and yellow crust is made from sticky rice flour and cape jasmine fruit extract, which is used as food coloring. The buttery and yellow filling is made from mung bean. They can add dried papaya strips, shredded coconut meat, and lotus seed to the filling to enhance the flavor of the cake. This cake is called Husband and wife cake because it is a must food at engagement ceremony and wedding in Hanoi and other provinces in North Vietnam. The cake is wrapped into a square shape, the filling has a round shape. According to Vietnamese people, square and round is a pair which represents for happiness. The crust covers the filling like a husband hugs and protects his wife. The green wrap represents for faithfulness, the pink (or red) strips used to tie the cake represents for the fate in love and marriage, the yellow crust represents for sweet love. There is a story about this traditional Vietnamese cake. It has been said that when King Ly Anh Tong went to war, his queen cooked for him a kind of cake. The cake represents the love of the queen to her husband. The king was satisfied with the delicious cake, he named the cake Husband and wife cake.
36. Che lam cake (Bánh chè lam)
Coming to Thach Xa Commune, Thach That District, Hanoi, you have a chance to not only admire arhat statues at Tay Phuong pagoda but also enjoy a specialty food of Hanoi – Che lam cake. Although Che lam cake is popular in many provinces in North Vietnam, Che lam cake made in Thach Xa is distinctly tasty. It takes many steps to make this kind of cake. Golden-flower sticky rice (or “nhung” sticky rice) is chosen to make this cake. Toast the rice until expanded, smelling but still sticky. The toasted rice is ground into a white and smelling powder. One of the most important steps is cooking “mật”: cook sugarcane juice concentrate (or regular sugar) with maltose. The heat should be not too high not too low. The mixture of sugarcane juice concentrate and maltose should be shining, viscous, smelling, sweet, unburnt and not bitter. Add toasted sticky rice powder, toasted peanuts, ginger, etc. to the mixture and stir well. Knead and roll the mixture until sticky and chewy. The mixture is cut into pieces which are called Che lam cakes. The cakes are covered with a very thin layer of toasted sticky rice powder. It is better to eat the cakes with some tea.
37. Vong village young green sticky rice (Cốm)
Vietnamese young green rice made in Vong village is the essence of splendid Hanoi capital thanks to its amazing taste, great smell, and cultural meaning. Thousands of years ago, it rained heavily, the wind blew strongly, banks were broken and sticky rice fields were flooded in autumn. So that people in Vong village had nothing to eat, they must harvest young sticky rice, toasted and grind them to eat. They also use natural food color to make the young green sticky rice green and more delicious. The recipe has been better throughout the years. Vong young green rice has been offered to kings and lords. Vong young green rice is a favorite gift that mothers and grandmothers buy from local markets every morning in the past. Fragrant and chewy young green sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves is one of the most beautiful childhood memory of Hanoi people. Until today, it’s more and more famous around the country and the world.
At Vong village, they use new golden glutinous rice harvested in autumn to make young green rice. To make sure Com has the best taste and smell, they make Com right after harvesting glutinous rice. Vong people toast rice in big pan over wood fire. The cook must stir the rice continuously. Then strong people grind toasted glutinous rice to separate rice from hulls and make rice flat. Lastly, Vong people use juice of canna leaves and young green rice leaves to color young green rice. That’s why Com made at Vong village has a natural green color.
In North Vietnam, Com and banana are a perfect couple eaten as snack. Com is usually eaten with persimmon or used to cook Sweet soup with young green rice, Stir-fried young green rice. This food is the ingredient to cook crispy deep-fried shrimp, fish and meat. Originated thousands of years ago, Com from Vong village is not only a food but also the soul of Hanoi as well as Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit old Hanoi, do not miss tasting exotic foods from young green rice to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine and culture.
38. Tofu pudding (Tào phớ)
Tofu pudding is a familiar food which any Hanoi person eats once in their life. Smooth, soft tofu pudding is covered with ginger syrup has won the hearts of most locals and visitors. Traditionally, tofu pudding is served hot with ginger syrup. It is a good choice in the winter in Hanoi. In the recent, they have added lots of toppings (jellies, fruits, coconut meat, dried fruits, seeds, nuts, beans, tapioca pearls, coffee, green tea, water chestnut, etc.) to the food and serve it cold with some ice. Tofu pudding has become one of the most refreshing foods when it is hot.
Tofu pudding is made from soybeans. Following is a traditional recipe for traditional Hanoi tofu pudding. The cook washes the beans in several changes of water, remove the peels so that the tofu is in white color, soft, and refreshing. Then the soybeans are dried under the sun in order to make them dry completely and smelling. After that, the soybeans are soaked in water for about 3 hours and ground with water. The mix of water and ground soybeans is filtered with a cloth bag, soybean bagasse is removed. The mix is cooked and stirred continuously until it reaches a boil, for about 15 minutes. The scums and foams should be removed while cooking to make sure that the tofu pudding has a silky texture. The mix is coagulated and the tofu pudding is ready after a few hours. They cook the syrup from sugar, ginger. Jasmine flowers are added to the syrup when the syrup has been cooled down and took out of the syrup after 30 minutes.
39.(Bánh trôi tàu – lục tàu xá – chí mà phù)
Glutinous rice dumplings in syrup (Bánh trôi nước, Bánh trôi tàu), Mung bean sweet soup with tangerine peel (Lục tàu xá), and Black sesame sweet soup (Chí mà phù) – the trio which has become must-eat in the winter in Hanoi for over one hundred years. These sweet soups originated in China and brought to Hanoi by Chinese people. Glutinous rice dumplings in syrup is made from glutinous rice, mung bean, coconut milk, peanuts, black sesame, shredded coconut meat. A dumpling has a sticky crust and a tender filling. A portion of Glutinous rice dumplings in syrup consists of 2 dumplings which are as small as a chicken egg: one is in a spherical shape and filled with mung bean paste, the other is in oblate spheroid shape and filled with ground black sesame. They are covered with sweet yellow-brown translucent ginger syrup and topped with greasy coconut milk, crunchy peanuts, smelling toasted black sesame, crunchy shredded coconut meat.
40. Toasted peanuts with “húng lìu” on Ba Trieu street (Lạc rang húng lìu Bà Triệu)
Toasted peanuts with “húng lìu” is a favorite snack in Hanoi, it also goes well with beer. “Húng lìu” – a spice mixture of many spices including star anise, cinnamon, clove, pepper, fennel seed, etc. It is similar to the well-known five-spices powder is the key to this food. Peanuts are marinated with “húng lìu” before toasting. One of the highlights of the food is that the peanuts are toasted with clean sand. Mrs. Van is the first person that makes Toasted peanuts with “húng lìu”. Toasted peanuts with “húng lìu” made by Mrs. Van are famous because they are crunchy, sweet, salt and have a typical smell. On Ba Trieu street in Hanoi, there are many shops selling this kind of foods.
41. Salted/sugared dry fruits (Ô mai)
Salted/sugared dry fruit is one of the most popular foods in Hanoi. Known as “the essence of Vietnam gifts”, it is one of the most favorite things to buy in Hanoi to bring home. There are many kinds of Ô mai. Hanoi people make Ô mai from Dracontomelon duperreanum, apricot, kumquat, plum, star fruit, lime, mango, jackfruit, orange peel, Docynia indica, ginger, Chinese liquorice, etc. The seeds of fruits can be removed or not. The fruits are marinated with various spices such as ginger, chili pepper, salt, sugar dried under the sun or in food dryers. Most of the Ô mai are not dried until dry completely and hard but still tender, sticky, and a little juicy. Ô mai Hồng Lam, Ô mai Hàng Đường are famous because they are tasty, safe, and can be preserved for a long time. Some favorite Ô mai are Salted dry apricot, Dry kumquat with honey, and Salted, sugared, spicy Dracontomelon duperreanum, etc. This food is not only delicious but also healthy. A trip to Hanoi could not complete if traveler misses this amazing food of Hanoi.
42. Dracontomelon duperreanum (Sấu)
Xuan Dieu – a very famous Vietnamese poet wrote: “Chót trên cành cao vót/ Mấy quả sấu con con/ Như mấy chiếc khuy lục/ Trên áo trời xanh non”. (“On the high branches/Small Dracontomelon duperreanum fruits/Look like green button/On the blue sky”). For a long time, this fruit has been a part of Hanoi. Dracontomelon duperreanum has become an poetic and romantic image in the eyes of many Vietnamese poets, locals, visitors. In the summer, Dracontomelon duperreanum is green, sour and crunchy. In the autumn, the fruit is ripe, yellow, and tender. This kind of fruit has many uses: cooking soup, making beverages, making Salted/sugared dry Dracontomelon duperreanum.
43. Dien pomelo (Bưởi Diễn)
Pomelos which were grown in Dien village (Minh Khai, Phu Dien, Phuc Dien ward in Bac Tu Liem district, Hanoi in the recent) are famous for small size, thin skin, small seeds, yellow, shinning, juicy, and sweet flesh. Each pomelo tree in Dien village blossoms and bears about 80 fruits at Tet festival once a year.
44. Dong Du guava (Ổi Đông Dư)
With rich alluvial deposits, Dong Du village on the bank of Red River is well-known for smelling, sweet and crunchy guavas. Dong Du guava is not as small as an apricot and has rough skin. The guava is harvested when it turns chartreuse and smelling.
45. Trang Tien ice cream (Kem Tràng Tiền)
Trang Tien ice cream has been one of the most favorite frozen desserts in Hanoi for tens of year. It has been a beautiful part of childhood memories of lots of Hanoi people.