Hanoi’s Food Street

tea on pavementOne could argue that all of Hanoi’s streets are food streets, in that it’s hard to find any that don’t have at least one vendor selling pho or banh my or any of the other delicious street foods on offer here. But two things make so-called “food street” different and worthy of its name: firstly, it surely has more restaurants than any other street in Hanoi, and secondly, it’s the only street where restaurants are legally allowed to open 24/7.

Food Street is actually two streets — Tong Duy Tan, which runs from Dien Bien Phu to Tran Phu, and Cam Chi, which runs perpendicular — and is located around a kilometre to the east of Hoan Kiem lake. As you’d expect, a wide range of Vietnamese dishes are available along the street and it’s difficult to differentiate between many of the places as the menus are similar and food is average, though reasonably priced.

I’ll mention three places that are particular favourites of mine, but do experiment — that’s the fun of it. Firstly, Pho Bo Duong Tau at the junction with Tran Phu — its address is actually 3 Tran Phu — is a great spot for a late night bowl of beef pho (or if you prefer chao try Chao Gia Truyen at 1 Tong Duy Tan opposite — as yet untried by me personally so let me know what you think).

noodle shop on pavementSecondly, on the corner of Tong Duy Tan and Cam Chi is my new favourite spot: the menu’s limited to banh cuon, pho and a couple of other noodle-based dishes, but the food’s tasty, there’s a good through-breeze and the owners are welcoming. I also had some great grilled prawns near this junction but I couldn’t find the place again when I last looked — keep an eye out.
The other place I’d highly recommend is Net Hue, on Cam Chi (but its address is 204b Hang Bong) — as the name would suggest, it offers Hue cuisine, and unlike the other pile-em-high joints it takes care in presentation.

If you’re not a fan of Vietnamese food, it’s still worth a visit to Food Street as it’s also home to three Western places: Puku, Southgate and new entrant, Delicious Wines. There are also some hotels and karaoke joints, including the new “Rose Karaoke” which I understand has a reasonable range of English language songs.

Although open around the clock, Food Street is busiest in the evening, and has a really lively vibe later at night. During the day it’s reasonably peaceful — it’s a paved street but even though motorbikes still drive down it it’s quieter than many of the surrounding streets.