Food

Late-night eating: a pleasure of Hanoians

Eating at night is not only a pleasure but also a unique culinary culture of Hanoi people.

Wandering around Hanoi at night, you will stray into another world of the capital city. It is not as busy as during the day time but still lively with restaurants opening late. 

The busy Ta Hien street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter area before Covid-19 pandemic spreads. Photo: Hieu Nguyen.

The habit of late eating of Hanoi people started a long time ago. At the beginning, it was among manual workers toiling at wholesale markets who finishes their job late. Small and modest eateries were open late nearby for them to fill the stomach and closed after they left.

Today, in the socio-economic development, late-night restaurants are available everywhere with more flexible opening time as eating at night becomes a pleasure of many people, especially the young at the weekend, to enjoy more with their family and friends after hard studying and working time. Hanoi by night, therefore, is animated in a distinct way.

Contributing to this lively life of Hanoi is the large part of the diversity of dishes and addresses for late-night eating. Hanoians usually go to their favourite place rather than try a new one. 

The best dish of “Ga tan thuoc bac” (stew chicken with herb) could be found in Tong Duy Tan culinary street. Photo: Foody.vn. 

Among them, the 24/7 food street of Tong Duy Tan is the most popular one. It is known as the first street food of Hanoi, opened in the beginning of the 2000s. There are plenty of food stalls and restaurants along the 200 metre-street, offering hundreds of popular local dishes.

The most favourite ones that many people come here to enjoy are ga tan (stew chicken with herb), sticky rice, banh cuon (steamed rice noodle rolls) Ky Dong, roasted bird, and fried rice with chicken.

Another open-air food court that has joined the catalog of eating addresses in the city in recent years is the “Western” Ta Hien street in the Hanoi Old Quarter. Thanks to the liveliest restaurants, bars and clubs located in the area, the street is a familiar spot for both the local people and tourists to gather and hangout with their family and friends until midnight.

The combination of fried strips – a popular dish for late-night eating. Photo: Hieu Nguyen.

Here, there is plenty of snack food such as nem chua ran (fried fermented pork rolls), nom bo kho (sweet and sour salad with beef jerky), French fries, meat skewers, sweet desserts, among others.

In addition, the street is also the number one choice of beer fans as it is regarded as one of the cheapest beer places with the most animated culture-exchange atmosphere in the city.

Moreover, it is indispensable to mention Pho, one of the most common dishes of Hanoians for late-night food. They usually go to the intersection of Hang Chieu and Hang Duong streets for it.

Here Pho is offered at 3am by a street vendor who her carries a pole with two large pots at both ends and some plastic tables and stools. Everything is very basic but she has a lot of customers who mostly are the loyal ones, willing to queue in a long line to enjoy her delicious Pho.

Together with Pho, chao (rice porridge) is also a favourite dish at night time. The rice porridge “map” of Hanoi names familiar food stalls in the Old Quarter and streets of Tong Duy Tan, Tran Quy Cap, Phan Dinh Phung, among others. 

The late-night eating street of “small” Phung Hung street in Hanoi. Photo: Hieu Nguyen.

Among them, the one at 14 Dong Xuan street in the Old Quarter is always full of diners, especially between 0-2am, thanks to its nice combination of porridge and rib, fried dough stick and salted shredded meat.

In addition, if you are a fan of seafood, you can satisfy your taste at Hang Bo and Hang Giay streets where a wide selection of menu is offered such as fish, snail, oyster, squid, shrimp, crab, octopus, among others with a reasonable price.

Late-night food in Hanoi becomes more and more diversified, making new specialized food streets like noodle streets at Cau Go and Lan Ong, BBQ streets at Gam Cau and Ly Van Phuc, fresh spring roll street at Ngu Xa street, steak streets at Hoe Nhai, or dessert streets at Hang Than and To Tich. 

Particularly, people who eat at night enjoy not only the food and time with friends but also the night scene of the city with a different, quieter and mysterious beauty from the light twinkling in the dark.

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