10 Local Cuisines You Must Try in Ha Long

Ha Long is renowned not only for its breathtaking bay and limestone islands but also for its vibrant culinary scene. The city’s food reflects its coastal culture, with a rich variety of seafood dishes that are beloved both locally and internationally. In fact, Ha Long’s cuisine has been featured in several famous Asian food lists, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts. Embark on a flavorful journey through Ha Long as we explore the top 10 local cuisines that will tantalize your taste buds and give you a taste of this beautiful region’s culture.

Scenic view of Ha Long Bay with limestone islands and clear blue water

1. Bánh cuốn chả mực (Steamed Rice Rolls with Squid Cake)

These steamed rice rolls are filled with succulent squid cake and served with a tangy dipping sauce. Made from rice flour, water, squid, minced pork, mushrooms, fried shallots, fish sauce, lime, garlic, and chili, the rice batter is steamed into thin sheets and filled with a mixture of minced squid, pork, and mushrooms. This dish combines the traditional steamed rice rolls of northern Vietnam with Ha Long’s famous squid cakes, offering a unique culinary experience.

  • How to Eat: Dip the rolls into the sauce and enjoy the blend of textures and flavors.
  • Where to Try: Bánh Cuốn Gia Truyền, 24 Bai Chay Street, Ha Long
Bánh cuốn chả mực - Steamed Rice Rolls with Squid Cake in Ha Long

2. Chả mực (Grilled Squid)

Grilled to perfection, chả mực is a flavorful and tender squid dish that’s a must-try. Made with fresh squid, fish sauce, garlic, and chili, the squid is marinated and then grilled until tender and slightly charred. Recognized as one of the best foods in Asia, this dish is a staple of Ha Long, showcasing the region’s fresh seafood. The dish is said to have originated from the local fishermen’s practice of grilling freshly caught squid over an open flame, enhancing its natural flavors.

  • How to Eat: Enjoy it as a snack or as part of a main meal, often served with rice or noodles.
  • Where to Try: Chả Mực Phúc, 56 Ha Long Street, Ha Long
Chả mực - Grilled Squid dish in Ha Long

3. Bún bề bề (Mantis Shrimp Noodle Soup)

This noodle soup is made with mantis shrimp, providing a unique and delicious seafood flavor. Made with mantis shrimp, rice noodles, fish sauce, garlic, chili, herbs, and lime, the shrimp is boiled to create a rich broth, which is then used to cook the rice noodles. This coastal delicacy reflects the abundance of mantis shrimp in Ha Long Bay and offers a unique texture and flavor different from more common seafood.

  • How to Eat: Squeeze lime over the soup and enjoy the fresh, zesty flavors.
  • Where to Try: Bún Bề Bề Quán, Ha Long Market, Ha Long
Bún bề bề - Mantis Shrimp Noodle Soup in Ha Long

4. Bánh gối (Vietnamese Pillow Cake)

Crispy on the outside and filled with a savory mixture of minced pork, mushrooms, and glass noodles, bánh gối is a delightful snack. Made with wheat flour, eggs, minced pork, glass noodles, and carrots, the dough is filled with the mixture, shaped into a pillow, and deep-fried until golden. This popular street food in northern Vietnam combines a crispy exterior with a savory filling. The origins of bánh gối are linked to the influence of Chinese dumplings, adapted to local tastes.

  • How to Eat: Dip in sweet and sour fish sauce for the best experience.
  • Where to Try: Bánh Gối Cô Mý, 12 Old Quarter, Ha Long
Bánh gối - Vietnamese Pillow Cake in Ha Long

5. Hàu nướng mỡ hành (Grilled Oysters with Scallion Oil)

Fresh oysters grilled and topped with scallion oil, peanuts, and fried shallots, hàu nướng mỡ hành is a coastal dish that highlights the fresh oysters available in Ha Long Bay. Made with fresh oysters, scallion oil, peanuts, and fried shallots, the oysters are grilled and topped with the mixture, providing a burst of flavors. The dish showcases the simplicity and freshness of the local seafood, making it a favorite among both locals and tourists.

  • How to Eat: Enjoy hot off the grill with a splash of fish sauce.
  • Where to Try: Hàu Nướng Bà Liên, 45 Bai Chay Beach, Ha Long
Hàu nướng mỡ hành - Grilled Oysters with Scallion Oil in Ha Long

6. Sam xào chua ngọt (Stir-fried Horseshoe Crab)

A sweet and sour stir-fry featuring horseshoe crab, a local delicacy. Made with horseshoe crab, tamarind, garlic, and vegetables, the crab is cleaned and stir-fried with tamarind sauce, garlic, chili, and vegetables. Unique to the coastal regions where horseshoe crabs are found, this exotic dish offers a must-try for adventurous eaters. The dish is believed to have ancient origins, tied to the region’s coastal communities who have long valued the horseshoe crab for its unique taste.

  • How to Eat: Best enjoyed with rice or as part of a seafood platter.
  • Where to Try: Sam Quán Hải Phòng, 78 Cửa Ông, Ha Long
Sam xào chua ngọt - Stir-fried Horseshoe Crab in Ha Long

7. Bánh mì bột lọc (Steamed Rice Cake with Shrimp)

These chewy rice cakes are filled with shrimp and served with fish sauce. Made with rice flour, shrimp, and pork, the rice flour is steamed into cakes and filled with a mixture of shrimp and pork. This traditional dish from central Vietnam has become popular in Ha Long, offering a unique texture. The origins of bánh mì bột lọc are linked to the central Vietnamese region, where it is a staple, reflecting the influence of regional ingredients.

  • How to Eat: Dip the rice cakes into the fish sauce and enjoy the chewy texture and savory filling.
  • Where to Try: Bánh Mì Bột Lọc Lý Thường Kiệt, 89 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Long
Bánh mì bột lọc - Steamed Rice Cake with Shrimp in Ha Long

8. Gỏi cá mai (Raw Fish Salad)

A refreshing salad made with raw fish, herbs, and a tangy dressing. Made with fresh fish, lime juice, herbs, garlic, and chili, the fish is thinly sliced and marinated in lime juice, then mixed with herbs, garlic, chili, and fish sauce. This coastal specialty showcases the fresh fish available in Ha Long Bay, offering a refreshing and bold flavor combination. The dish is rooted in traditional fishing communities where fresh catches are often enjoyed raw.

  • How to Eat: Enjoy it as an appetizer or a light main course.
  • Where to Try: Gỏi Cá Mai Hạ Long, 27 Fishing Port, Ha Long
Gỏi cá mai - Raw Fish Salad in Ha Long

9. Canh hà (Clam Soup)

A light and flavorful soup made with fresh clams and herbs. Made with fresh clams, lemongrass, garlic, and herbs, the clams are boiled with lemongrass and herbs to create a fragrant broth. This family-run eatery favorite reflects the abundance of seafood in Ha Long and is often enjoyed for its simplicity and freshness. The history of canh hà is tied to the daily lives of local fishermen who create simple yet flavorful soups with their fresh catches.

  • How to Eat: Serve hot with a side of steamed rice.
  • Where to Try: Nhà Hàng Hà, 34 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Long
Canh hà - Clam Soup in Ha Long

10. Nem chua (Fermented Pork Roll)

A savory and slightly tangy fermented pork roll that’s perfect as a snack. Made with pork, garlic, and chili, the pork is fermented to create a unique tangy flavor. A traditional dish from northern Vietnam, it has become a popular snack in Ha Long. The origins of nem chua date back to ancient preservation methods, where fermentation was used to extend the shelf life of meats.

  • How to Eat: Enjoy as a snack or with a cold beer.
  • Where to Try: Nem Chua Bình Minh, 56 Ha Long Street, Ha Long
Nem chua - Fermented Pork Roll in Ha Long

More Flavors Await…

Ha Long’s culinary scene is waiting for you to explore. Whether you’re a seafood lover or an adventurous eater, these dishes will offer you an unforgettable experience.

To continue your culinary journey, discover Hanoi’s hidden culinary gems on a vintage Vespa. Embark on an enchanting journey through the heart of Hanoi on vintage Vespas, navigating narrow alleyways to uncover the city’s hidden culinary treasures. Delight in authentic local cuisine while taking in iconic sights such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Train Street. This adventure will tantalize your taste buds and immerse you in Hanoi’s rich cultural tapestry.

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