Hanoi is renowned for its captivating autumn season. The streets are adorned with a blanket of vibrant yellow leaves, while a gentle breeze gently whispers through the air, and the sun’s gentle rays provide the perfect touch of warmth to every corner. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore and savor Hanoi’s delectable street food during this enchanting time of year.

Let The Hanoi Times guide you to some delightful dining destinations near Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, the iconic heart of Hanoi.

Indulge in the Exquisite Flavors of Thuy Ta Ice Cream

Visitors enjoying Thuy Ta ice cream in Hanoi. Photo: MC Hoang Phuc

For Hanoians, savoring a Thuy Ta ice cream by the picturesque Sword Lake is not just about enjoying a refreshing and delicious treat, but also about preserving a tradition that has been passed down through generations.

Thuy Ta ice cream has been a part of Hanoi’s culinary landscape for many years, with its brand name predating even the famous Trang Tien ice cream. Since 1954, French chefs introduced this delightful sweet treat to the local population. To cater to the preferences of Hanoians, they infused the ice cream with tropical flavors such as mint and lemon, orange, banana, mung bean, young sticky rice, taro, and mulberry, among others.

Over time, Thuy Ta restaurant’s ice cream offerings have evolved and expanded, now featuring an impressive selection of 52 flavors. Divided into three lines – popsicles, ice cream boxes, and ice cream cups – these flavors cater to every discerning palate, be it from Europe or Asia. Indulging in a delectable ice cream at a luxurious restaurant with breathtaking views of the emerald Sword Lake is a fantastic way to enjoy a snack in true Hanoian style. As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and when in Hanoi, make sure to relish the gelato in the authentic Hanoian manner!

Thuy Ta ice cream has been a well-known delicacy in Hanoi since 1954. Photo: Thuy Ta Legend Restaurant

Delight in the Savory Chicken Soup of Pho ga Bao Khanh

While Vietnamese traditional noodle soup with beef, known as Pho bo, has gained international recognition among food enthusiasts, its counterpart made with chicken, called Pho ga, remains lesser-known.

However, the “fragrant, mouthwatering, and harmonious” flavors of this delectable dish have captured the hearts of numerous diners, even earning praise from Penny Wong, the Australian Foreign Minister. During her visit to Hanoi earlier this year, she, alongside Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie, relished this Hanoi specialty.

When ordering this dish, the cook adds chicken slices to a bowl of broth, rice noodles, thinly sliced onions, chopped green onions, fresh coriander, and lemon leaves. Diners can customize their Pho ga experience by choosing various toppings, including chicken breasts with or without skin, chicken thighs, boneless chicken wings or legs, and chicken eggs.

In Hanoi, one must not miss the opportunity to savor Pho ga Bao Khanh, which is available at the Bao Khanh Lane stall. The owners of this establishment take great pride in their culinary creation. The cook meticulously prepares the authentic Hanoi-style flat rice noodle soup – with thin and tender noodles, perfectly cooked chicken, and a clear and flavorful broth made from chicken bones.

A delicious bowl of Hanoi’s flat rice noodle soup with chicken, also known as Pho ga Hanoi. Photo: Thu An

Indulge in the Unique Hanoian Delicacy of Ms. Lan’s Khuc-Pie

In downtown Hanoi, finding a light meal at any time of the day or night is an effortless endeavor. While there are various delicacies available, such as pho (rice noodles with beef or chicken) and banh cuon (steamed rice pancakes), one dish holds a special place in the hearts of many Hanoians – the traditional favorite known as banh Khuc or Khuc-pie. The city’s best Khuc-pie can be found at Ms. Lan’s establishment on Cau Go Street near Sword Lake, and it is only available in the evening.

Legend has it that after the harvest season, the rice fields in Hanoi’s suburban areas are adorned with vibrant green Khuc vegetables – the main ingredient of Khuc-pie. After being carefully picked, the tiny leaves are washed, boiled, ground in a stone mortar, and mixed with sticky rice flour to create a dark green mixture. This mixture is then shaped into portions the size of a child’s fist.

Each piece of Khuc-pie is rolled in boiled green peas and seasoned half-fat, half-lean meat soaked in pepper. The Khuc-pies are then layered in a large steamer, with each layer covered with soaked sticky rice to fill the pot.

Ms. Lan’s Khuc-pie is always wrapped in fresh lotus leaves, imparting a unique floral flavor to the dish. The aroma of steaming sticky rice and Khuc-pie is incredibly comforting, and the combination of Khuc, green peas, and spiced meat creates a distinctive northern flavor that should not be missed if you find yourself in the right place at the right time of year.

A delectable specialty of Hanoi – Ms. Lan’s Khuc-pie. Photo: Huyen Trang

Savor the Flavorful Bowl of Bun thang Cau Go

For years, a small food stall on Cau Go Street near Hoan Kiem Lake has been celebrated by Hanoian diners for its renowned dish – Bun thang, also known as mixed rice noodle soup.

Bun thang, a Northern Vietnamese specialty, tantalizes the senses with its aromatic broth, vibrant colors, and bold flavors. The noodles used in this dish must be thin, soft, and fragrant rice noodles, while the ham should be tender and sourced from Uoc Le Village, renowned for its Vietnamese-style ham. The chicken must be delicately shredded into thin strips, and dried turnip, onion, and Sa Sung (sea leech) are added to enhance the broth’s taste.

The hallmark of a bowl of Bun thang lies in its broth, which should be rich in flavor without relying on sodium glutamate. It should be free from any overpowering flavors from ox or buffalo bones. To achieve the desired sweetness, the broth is prepared using chicken bones and shelled prawns, creating a clear broth that is simmered until serving.

Bun thang is typically served in large bowls to retain its heat and flavors. The broth should have a clear and pale yellow color. The real essence of this specialty lies in the use of belostomatid essence, which is obtained from the squeezed excretion of an endemic beetle. A small amount of this essence, along with a spoonful of shrimp paste, perfects the dish’s rich flavor.

A simple yet delicious specialty of Hanoi: Bun thang or mixed rice noodle soup. Photo: Trinh Le Phong