In the midst of winter, the warm delights of Hanoi can help alleviate the biting cold. It’s not hard to come across images of bustling street food stalls in Hanoi at any time of day. Regardless of the season, Hanoi’s cuisine never fails to captivate. Amidst the chilly weather, there’s nothing more delightful and comforting than stepping into a familiar street-side eatery to savor the winter treats of Hanoi.
Hot rice cake (“bánh đúc nóng”)
Unlike the traditional rice cakes of the northern region, usually eaten cold with braised fish or meat, hot rice cakes have a different style. They are softer, more elastic, and are enjoyed while still emitting a tempting steam, accompanied by flavorful broth and fresh herbs.
To achieve the perfect hot rice cake, meticulous steps from selecting the rice, soaking it, to the rice milling technique are crucial. The broth also plays a vital role, determining the overall taste of the dish. The hot, clear, slightly sour, sweet, and savory broth, along with minced meat and sautéed wood ear mushrooms, contributes to the harmonious and enjoyable flavor of the rice cake.
As the temperature drops, the hot rice cake stalls in Hanoi become more crowded, becoming a habit for the residents of the capital. You can find delicious hot rice cakes at various places such as 8 Le Ngoc Han Street, Alley 296 Minh Khai, 106 Goc De Street, 114 Truong Dinh Street, and Trung Tu Hot Rice Cake.
Pork rib porridge (“cháo sườn sụn”)
Hanoi’s pork rib porridge is not the typical grainy porridge but a smooth concoction made from finely ground rice. The sight of steaming porridge carts emitting a fragrant aroma on the streets is truly irresistible during the cold days.
The pork ribs in the porridge are simmered until tender, allowing even large, meaty pieces to be easily separated with a spoon. Served with crispy fried dough sticks, fried shallots, shredded pork, and mushroom floss, a dash of pepper, chili powder, or slices of ginger enhance the porridge’s aroma, making it even more appealing.
Popular pork rib porridge spots to try include Ngo Huyen Street, 2 Ly Quoc Su Street, 14 Dong Xuan Street, 142 Doi Can Street, and 26 Tran Xuan Soan Street.
Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls (“bánh trôi tàu”)
One of the must-try dishes in Hanoi during this winter is the Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls. Holding a bowl of hot rice balls in hand, gently using a spoon to pick up a round piece, diners can feel the chewiness of the dough and savor the combination of green bean and black sesame fillings inside. The warmth from the hot syrup, the fragrant ginger, the chewy coconut shreds, and the crunchy peanuts create an enticing and delightful experience.
As the cold days set in, renowned Chinese Glutinous Rice Ball stalls in Hanoi, such as 1 Bat Dan Street, 146 Quan Thanh Street, and 90 De To Hoang Street, become even more crowded, especially during lunch and early evening hours.
Boiled snails (“ốc luộc”):
As evening falls, heading to a familiar snail stall becomes a delightful experience, with everyone indulging in a bowl of piping hot snails. The joy of sitting around, leisurely picking and dipping each snail into perfectly blended fish sauce with ginger, lemongrass, and chili is hard to resist. Despite being a cooling dish, snails manage to maintain their allure in the winter, especially when the broth is warm and flavorful.
Snail lovers can explore numerous stalls in the streets and alleys of Hanoi, such as Cua Bac, Tong Duy Tan, Cho Nam Dong, and Luong Dinh Cua.
Grilled corn and sweet potatoes (“ngô, khoai nướng”)
During the transitional season, when temperatures drop, stalls selling grilled corn and sweet potatoes become more prominent around Hanoi in the late evening. The enticing aroma of roasted corn kernels and the perfectly baked sweet potatoes attract passersby, inviting them to stop and savor the warm delights.
Amidst the cold, groups of 3-4 people gather around a small fire, blowing on the freshly roasted corn or peeling the crispy skin off the sweet potatoes. Paired with a cup of hot soy milk, these moments become an indispensable habit for Hanoians whenever winter arrives.0