Some people think that delectable dishes are available for all four seasons. Correct! However, it is not deniable that some of them are especially more tasty and appetizing in the cold weather of Hanoi winter.
The following is a list of some of the most typical snack foods that have become a part of winter in Hanoi.
1. Grilled corn (Vietnamese: Ngô nướng)
The scent of grilled corn coming along with chilly winds of winter nights always brings about a bit of warmth inside many Hanoians. Vendors, who are mainly middle-aged and old women, begin to cook and sell grilled corn from late afternoon. They often put corns on fire built by charcoal and constantly turn them over to make corns become well cooked but not burnt. As a result, while the cover becomes hard and browned, the inside is still glutinous, sweet and packed with flavors. Grilled corn stalls can be found almost anywhere on the sidewalk of Hanoi during the night.
Recommended: Long Bien Bridge (over the Red River); the Gate of Ham Long Church (21 Ham Long Str.)
2. Fried bread sticks (Quẩy) // Congee (Cháo quẩy)
Fried bread sticks, another common food has also become popular for this time of year. Often it is served with a papaya dipping-sauce in winter; it is a favorite among students. To make “quẩy”, people cut the dough flat made of rice powder into bands, and combine them to form pairs. The dough pair is then carefully dropped into the hot oil and continuously flipped until it puffs up into the normal shape we see.
Beside being served on its own, “quẩy” is commonly stuffed in the congee or noodle to eat with the soup. For those chilly days, Vietnamese rice porridge/congee is the very comfort food of choice. Congee can be eaten as plain rice soup or with additional ingredients such as chicken, duck, fish or pork. In Hanoi, the most popular variations are those with pork ribs or oyster, which are often served as snack in the afternoon. “Quẩy” is often broken apart and dipped into the soup to serve as an accompaniment to these variations. Especially, the soup could be much fancier when mingled with a sprinkling of sliced scallions, chopped parsley and fried shallot.
Recommended for bread sticks: Hang Bong street; around B52 Lake (Doi Can street), Tran Nhat Duat street
Recommended for congee: Ngo Huyen street; No. 26 Tran Xuan Soan street
3. Boiled snails (Ốc luộc)
Hanoi may not be able to compete with HCMC or Nha Trang in terms of the variety of snail dishes. However, bowls of boiled snails are best experienced on a cold winter night. Snails are often soaked with chilly in order to make them “open the mouth”. By doing this trick, the seller can wipe away the dust and sand inside the snail after cleaning by water for a few times.
The snails are normally served with a mixture of fish sauce, lime, chili, sugar and lemongrass. It is quite interesting to know that this accompaniment varies from stall to stall and the good sauce rather than the snails is the key to attract eaters.
Recommended: Dinh Liet street; Alley 90, Cua Bac street
4. Grilled Vietnamese sausages (Nem chua nướng)
The flavor of grilled sausages is a bit sweet, a bit sour and slightly spicy, especially with chili sauce. Not like fried fermented pork which is dry and in deep golden yellow, the grilled one can keep the original pink color of pork together with an outside sticky layer. It is one of those dishes favored by young people. It is often served with unripe mango and a small dish of pepper and salt.
Recommended: Au Trieu street (near St. Joseph Cathedral)
5. Hot Vietnamese sweet beverage (Chè nóng)
If you choose the hot version of “chè”, the varieties of this dessert would possibly be limited to those made of black bean or mung bean. However, the hot glutinous soup surrounded by the fragrant smell could definitely warm you up in the cold winter. If you are not in a hurry, try “chè” hotpot. This new business idea gives patrons a DIY option, which allow them to put additional flavorings into sweet soup kept warm by light fire.
Recommended: 59 Hang Chuoi street, 16 Ngo Thi Nham street, 4 Hang Can street, 31 Dao Duy Tu
6. Hot rice flour cake (Bánh đúc nóng)
“Bánh đúc” is simply made of plain rice and mixed with ground pork, but that doesn’t stop the flour cakes from becoming Hanoi people’s big appetite. The main part of a bowl of “bánh đúc” is white in color and has a soft texture and mild flavor. It is typically garnished with savory ingredients such as ground pork, grilled ground shrimp, fried onions, sesame seeds, coriander along with possibly fried tofu in some outlets. One more special thing which makes “bánh đúc” stalls distinguished is the sauce served with the cake, whose base is soy sauce or fish sauce. Each stall has its own recipe to create this condiment, but all of the good sauces tend to be light sweet and sour rather than tangy like the original version for steamed rice cake or spring rolls.
Although the cake may be eaten on its own, it may also be served hot, accompanied by steamed meat or mushrooms. The hot “bánh đúc” would definitely worth a try in a cold day of Hanoi.
Recommended: 8 Le Ngoc Han street, 27 Hang Be street
7. Ice cream (Kem)
Most of people may never think about this crazy idea, but ice cream seems to be a must-try thing for its fan in the winter. Just a spoonful of ice cream into your mouth can cause you feel like the inside of your head (or brain) has frozen. Then this must be an exciting and unforgettable experience. Another reason for the appearance of ice cream in this list may lie in a well-known brand called Trang Tien, which makes Hanoian from generation to generation addicted. Hanoians consider Trang Tien ice cream to be so exceptional that there are always a great number of customers standing inside and outside the store to enjoy this Hanoi’s typical frozen food.
Recommended: 35 Trang Tien street
Reference: Dtinews, Zing, AFamily