While mid-February weather is always frightful, beef pho is never not delightful. Vietnam’s capital – Hanoi – sits at the top of our list of up-and-coming foodie cities, so it’s no surprise that the Southeast Asian country is also home to some of our favorite, heart-warming winter meals.
Cozy up with any of these traditional Vietnamese dishes for a solo night in, or brave the cold and treat yourself to one of the best bowls around town with friends. Either way, your stomach will thank you.
Here are a few of our top Vietnamese picks for staying warm this winter:
1. Phở (Noodle Soup)
The first food that makes our list has long been a go-to, gut-satisfying soup. Phở (pronounced fuh) is a noodle soup that’s classically made from rice noodles, fresh herbs, vegetables (think: cilantro, lime, bean sprouts, and chilies), and raw beef that cooks itself in a steaming bone broth. While we love the traditional version just the way it is, it’s hard to argue with modern twists on and old classic – like Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen’s version that includes 14-hour smoked brisket.
2. Bún chả (Grilled Pork and Noodles)
Bún chả is the lesser-known and equally-delicious sister dish to phở. This delicacy typically features cold broth, and richer, charcoal grilled pork belly over a bed of rice noodles. The best part of bún chả? The president-approved meal can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on a budget in Hanoi.
3. Bánh Rán Mặn (Savory Fried Rice Cakes)
These crispy, fried rice balls are filled with delicious ground pork and served with a sweet and salty fish sauce that complements the cake’s savory interior. Bánh rán mặn is one of the most sought-after street foods in Vietnam, and legend has it, that eating one on a cold day with friends creates a feeling so warm it’ll last a lifetime.
4. Chè Trôi Nước (Sticky Rice Ball Desert)
Looking for something sweet to follow your savory soups and fried cakes? One bite of these sticky rice balls smothered in ginger syrup will have you booking a trip to Vietnam to escape the cold for good. The glutinous rice balls filled with a thick mung bean paste are served warm and best when followed by a nap.
Soon enough, the changing of seasons will bring on an explosion of new flavors. So, once you’ve gotten your fill of pho, ditch your coat and check out these international street markets for a bite of another one of our Vietnamese vices: báhn mi.