The most stunning winter snacks of Hanoi

Winter in Hanoi is said to be the coldest weather in the world; even without snow, Hanoi is filled with freezing coldness, making its people closer to each other, finding temporary shelter for warmer sources of life. Street vendors with fire stoves and baking hot snacks, which tastes better when it is colder are ideal places for any food lovers.

The following is a list of some of the most typical snacks that have become a part of winter in Hanoi. One thing for sure is that just a glance at them can immediately make your mouth watering. Let’s take a bite of these to feel the spirit of Hanoi winter.

1. Grilled corns and sweet-potatoes - Ngô nướng, khoai nướng

These are among the most interesting dishes in winter of Hanoi. Without any special recipe, just newly harvested corns and sweet potatoes are grilled over charcoal. However, it is the scent of the grilled corn coming along with chilly winds of winter nights that always brings a bit of warmth inside many Hanoians. Under the skillful hands of medium-aged women, if the corn becomes hard and browned in the cover but still glutinous, sweet and packed with cozy flavors inside; those hot sweet potatoes with extreme sweetness will surely warm you up and wake up senses of life.

If you have time visiting the oldest bridge in Hanoi, Long Bien bridge over the Red river, where strong vehicles are not allowed to travel by, you can immediately find small stalls located on the sidewalk, simple but enough to light up the night.

2. Vietnamese savior fried cake - Bánh rán mặn

Fried cake is a popular snack you really should try during those winter days of Hanoi. In the past, this special cake was only made at home by mothers and grandmothers for their children as it required being served hot. With ingredients inside similar to those of northern spring rolls, crispy outer skin and indispensable sweet and sour dipping sauce, Vietnamese savior fried cake is an amazing solution to regain energy during such easy-to-be-hungry days of winter.

You can visit 52 Ly Quoc Su, near Hoan Kiem lake, or 242 Lac Long Quan, on the way to West Lake to try the most genuine and stunning savior fried cake. However, to be on time and lucky enough, ‘cause there’s nothing left for those who come too late.

3. Mussel porridge with fried bread sticks - Cháo trai, quẩy

It is not so difficult to come across a porridge stall serving that common afternoon treat. However, to find the most genuine and delicious mussel porridge is still an art for even permanent residents of this hustle city. Besides being served on its own, “quẩy” – breadstick is often broken apart and dipped into the congee or noodles to serve as a crunchy accompaniment to the dish. For those chilly days, Vietnamese rice porridge with mussel, chopped dill, fried shallot and a sprinkle of black pepper is the very comfort food of choice.

4. Boiled snails, deep-fried pork roll - Ốc luộc, nem chua rán

Boiled snails and deep-fried pork rolls are well combined with one another and have been regarded as the most popular snacks of the youth, especially preferred in freezing days. These specialties of Hanoi may not be able to compete with HCMC in terms of the variety of snail dishes. However, a bowl of boiled snails, along with a plate of crispy pork rolls are enough to blow up your mind. Its stunning flavor comes from personal secret of skilled hands mixing the dipping source and well selecting deliciously buttery boiled snails.

The snails are normally served with a mixture of fish sauce, lime, chili, sugar and lemongrass. For how to make the fantastic sauce and where to find the best snail stalls in Hanoi, visit my posts again and again to get the best experience ever. 

5. Fried eggs with Mugwort - Trứng ngải cứu

In winter, sales of baby duck egg and fried egg with mugwort have become much in demand, not only because they are delicious, cheap, but also healthy and quickly served. The bitterness of mugwort adds more flavor for the dish, making it unforgettable for the first try. If you dare to eat baby duck egg with mugwort soup, it’s well worth another try and for sure, there is nothing better for your health during these chilly days.

6. Rice pyramid dumplings - Bánh giò

Commonly found at local delis shops, these dumplings are best when eaten fresh from the steamer, when they are soft and redolent of the tealike fragrance of the banana leaf wrapper. Inside, the firmish-soft rice dough encases a savory pork, shallot, and wood ear mushroom.

Traditionally, bánh giò are wrapped in many layers of banana leaf in order to produce the signature pyramid shape. The flavor is buttery, sweet-smelling but refreshing and well combined with sweet and sour cucumber, grilled pork and hot chili sauce.

7. Sticky rice with Mung bean and Fried Shallots - Xôi xéo

Amazingly attractive with its bright yellow color, "xoi xeo" is kept warm in a bamboo basket which is carried on the shoulder or fastened behind the bicycle. In other regions, sticky rice is mainly for breakfast, in Hanoi, however, it can be enjoyed all the day with indispensably familiar sound of street hawkers heralding across the city.

The ingredients for making "xoi xeo" include glutinous rice, turmeric powder, mung bean, shallot, and some liquid fat. The secret is that it is the turmeric powder, mixed with water and glutinous rice, that will create the natural yellow for the dish. The yellow of the turmeric rice and bean, the brown of shallot, the distinctive green of banana leaf all mix and match perfectly, and combine to make an eye-catching "xoi xeo".

8. Vietnamese cornflakes - Bỏng

Bỏng has long been an indispensable treat since childhood of Vietnamese people in general and Hanoians in particular. Bỏng can be made from corn, rice and etc. with or without added sugar, however it is always interesting to eat along with some hot tea while chatting with friends about life and weather. Bỏng is more delicious and crispy right after making, so eat them as fast as possible and you can’t keep it until tomorrow because it will soften when contact with the air.

9. Vietnamese sticky rice and sweet soup

Hot sticky rice and sweet soup may be neglected during the scorching summer days, but it turns out to be a good fit during such a hard-to-please weather in winter with powerful appeal to any empty stomach every early morning or late afternoon. No matter it is black or green bean sweet soup, with sticky rice coated with mung bean, the dish creates a perfect combination.

10. Hot floating cake soup

Hot floating cake soup is another specialty of Hanoi with the most traditional stalls belonging to the Old Quarter, 30 Hang Giay street. Though cheap, the special floating cake with black sesame or green bean inside and indispensable coconut shreds will comfort even the most difficult taster. It is also because of the aroma of ginger soup wafting in the air that attracts any passer-by. That explains why the kind of cake is favored whenever a new wave of north-east monsoon comes.  

11. Ice-cream

Ice cream seems to be a must-try thing for its fan in the winter. 35 Trang Tien street is an ideal place to enjoy yourself the most genuine flavor of Hanoi ice cream. Just a mouthful of fresh ice cream with its crunchy cone can cause you feel like the inside of your head (or brain) has frozen. Besides you can also try coconut cream served directly inside a coconut somewhere in Thanh Nien street, and another one with beautiful view in Hang Than street, Old Quarter area.

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