VietnamFood & DrinksExotic Foods in Hanoi

Exotic Foods in Hanoi

Located in northern Vietnam, Hanoi has access to the mountainous regions and the sea. This gives Hanoi an advantage when it comes to exotic foods when compared to the rest of Vietnam. Discover some exotic foods in Hanoi that can surprisingly be quite delicious more often than not.

Exotic Foods in Hanoi

Banh Cuon with Giant Water Bug Essence

exotic foods in hanoi banh cuon original

Banh cuon

Banh cuon is a familiar breakfast favorite in Vietnam, made of thinly spread rice batter flour rolled with minced meats and mushrooms and dipped in sweet fish sauce. However, in Hanoi, you can find a peculiar addition to this dish.

exotic foods in hanoi giant water bug 1

Giant water bugs

exotic foods in hanoi giant water bug 2

Fish sauce infused with giant water bugs

Some banh cuon restaurants in Hanoi offer the option to add the essence of giant water bugs to their fish sauce. Some already have giant water bug-infused fish sauce ready to go. Experienced locals will even ask for freshly boiled whole giant water bugs to cut into smaller pieces to be added to their dip!

Cha Ruoi

exotic foods in hanoi cha ruoi 1

Fried cha ruoi

This dish is served as a pancake, with a batter typically consisting of minced meat, egg, orange peels, dills, and other Vietnamese herbs. The shocking ingredient, however, is the sandworm!

Usually, the sandworms are already incorporated into the batter, so you would not even notice them. If you can find this dish’s street food version, you might have fresh live sandworm added to the batter as it cooks in the pan.

exotic foods in hanoi cha ruoi 2

Cha ruoi raw ingredients

Insects Delicacies

Insects are perhaps the most native exotic food in Hanoi. Most are sourced from the Northwestern mountainous region of Vietnam. When starting with insect sampling, it is best to go for the fried version when possible, making it enjoyable.

Stink Bugs

exotic foods in hanoi stink bugs

Stir-fried stink bugs

Stink bugs are surprisingly among the most favorite insect dishes. With a crunchy texture and a meaty abdomen, stink bugs have a slightly bitter taste that most locals seem to enjoy. They are mostly in season from January to February.

Bamboo Worms

exotic foods in hanoi bamboo worms

Deep-fried bamboo worms

Bamboo worms are typically served deep-fried or stir-fried and are commonly eaten as appetizers. They are more widely available from March to May, especially from September to October, during their peak breeding season.

Bee Larvae

exotic foods in hanoi bee larvae

Stir-fried bee larvae

Fried bee larvae are said to be crunchy and similar to french fries. Most people prefer the larvae in this form as it’s easier to enjoy. Those who are extra adventurous can also try the steamed version. They are in season from September to November.

Ant Eggs Sticky Rice

exotic foods in hanoi ant eggs sticky rice

Ant eggs sticky rice

Ant eggs sticky rice is probably a more accessible introduction to insect cuisine if you are hesitant about eating insects. The ant eggs have a texture similar to that of fish roe. This dish is usually available all year round.

Trung Cut Lon (Balut)

Very similar to balut, trung cut lon is the same but with quail eggs. If you have never tried balut (“trung vit lon” in Vietnamese), the quail egg version may be an easier gateway to the full-on larger duck egg. The eggs are popularly enjoyed in a tamarind-based sauce or on their own, just like balut, with salt and black pepper as a seasoning dip.

Being adventurous can be fun and thrilling, but do consider your health seriously when deciding to try these exotic foods in Hanoi. Make sure you know about these Food Safety Tips in Vietnam.

Conclusion of Exotic Foods in Hanoi

Whether you are an adventurous foodie or not, if you keep an open mind, you will most often be pleasantly surprised. Even if the exotic foods in Hanoi aren’t to your liking (don’t worry—everyone has different tastes!), think of it this way: You at least now know and can say that you have tried it.

If the unusual dishes above aren’t for you, you can always choose another route to exotic foods in Hanoi—fruits! Explore and sample the many varieties of exotic fruits that Vietnam has to offer, which are just as interesting as any dishes in Hanoi. To search for those fruits, start with local markets in Hanoi.

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