The richness of Hanoi Gastronomy and the city’s reputation for healthy eating have contributed to making Hanoi an attractive destination in Asia.
Over the past few years, Vietnamese cuisine has been the subject of much praise from major travel websites and food guides. This indicates that the local cuisine is a huge “gold mine” of international tourist appeal. To tap this potential, it is important for the tourism industry to create a local food map.
Many advantages for captivating travelers
On June 6, four Vietnamese restaurants, three of them in the capital Hanoi, were awarded one star each by the world-renowned Michelin Guide.
Earlier, readers of TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, voted Hanoi one of the top 20 food destinations in the world for 2023. Similarly, the US travel website Travel + Leisure named Vietnam the best culinary destination in its “Bucket List Places in Asia in 2023” list.
Indeed, Hanoi’s cuisine fascinates not only tourists but also international politicians. Former US President Barack Obama enjoyed bun cha (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles) in Hanoi in 2016, and South Korea’s former President Moon Jae-in and his wife enjoyed beef noodle soup in the same city in 2018.
It surprised locals when Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited a steam beer bar on Duong Thanh Street in Hoan Kiem District, where he sampled Hanoi specialties.
Nguyen Trung Khanh – General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism – believed that the 4 Michelin-starred restaurants would consolidate Vietnam’s food tourism brand and entice international tourists to choose the country as their next destination.
“The fact that Vietnam’s cuisine in general, and Hanoi’s in particular, has received stars from the Michelin Guide and has been selected by TripAdvisor as one of the world’s top culinary destinations in 2023, shows that Vietnamese cuisine is gradually gaining a foothold on the world’s food map. This is a great potential to attract international visitors,” Nguyen said.
“In the coming period, the tourism industry will continue to promote Vietnamese cuisine worldwide through international fairs, focusing on Michelin Guide-starred restaurants and hotels. At the same time, we will also strengthen cooperation between travel agencies and these restaurants in organizing food tours,” he added.
According to Nguyen Quoc Ky, Chairman of the Vietnam Culinary Culture Association, with unique and diverse cuisine, Vietnam can create many attractive tourism products to enhance the experience and encourage tourists to stay longer.
Diners flock to Michelin-awarded restaurants
The already popular Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden restaurants have seen an even bigger increase in diners recently after the prestigious Michelin guide put the two eateries on their culinary map.
This is a huge feather in the caps of these two capital city restaurants, both already loved by residents and visitors alike.
Recognition by Michelin is considered the greatest achievement a restaurant can receive. And for Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden, placement on the French foodie guide’s culinary map is a sense of pride for the dedicated and hardworking staff employed by the Hà Nội based group.
But, as they say, the real proof of the pudding is in the eating. And customers visiting Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden can’t help coming back for more.
Hanoian Nguyễn Ngọc Hân says she and her family are long-time fans of these restaurants.
“We enjoy dishes including desserts at these restaurants every weekend or to celebrate family anniversaries.”
She also recommends the venues to her friends, and when it comes to organising a party, these are the only two names on her lips when choosing the right venue to combine fine foods with a vibrant atmosphere.
She says: “As Vietnamese, are very proud that Michelin has selected these restaurants of Quán Ăn Ngon Chain. We’ve known how amazing they are for a long time, but it’s fabulous to see the restaurants receive global recognition.”
Phúc Hưng Thịnh is the company that established Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden restaurants.
Chef Phạm Sơn Vương, chairman of the Professional Chef Association in HCM City, says “These two restaurants are worthy to receive Michelin Guide recognition in Hà Nội.”
When composer Huy Tuấn, a true lover of all things Vietnamese food, learned of the recognitions, well it was music to his ears!
Quán Ăn Ngon has become one of Việt Nam’s dining destinations that has attracted a huge number of local and foreign visitors and travellers.
It has been used many times in popular lifestyle documentaries by television stations from the west, including the BBC reality show, The Real Marigold Hotel.
Chiam Jia Xin from Malaysia said before visited Hà Nội last month, Quán Ăn Ngon restaurant was at the top of his ‘places to eat’ list.
“When I arrived at the restaurant at 18 Phan Bội Châu Street, it was full of local diners and foreign guests from all over the world. It was so crowded that I had to wait for a while to get my table but I knew it would be worth it.
“I’m happy to wait because the dishes here are so tasty and delicious, prepared by professional chefs and served by knowledgeable and friendly waiters.
Local diners love Quán Ăn Ngon’s traditional dishes, helping them relive wonderful childhood memories. “It is appropriate that the place has been recognised by Michelin.”
And he’s vowed to not only return to Quán Ăn Ngon when he’s next in town, but also to bring his family, so they too can enjoy dishes from the country’s three regions.
Quán Ăn Ngon, which in 2025 celebrates its 20th anniversary, has 200 street dishes and specialties created from recipes that date back more than 100 years, handed down from generation to generation and developed by professional cuisine artisans.
Local diners say they rediscover their childhood memories through dishes at the restaurant while many foreign guests have told Việt Nam News that they find the dishes so interesting, they will return over and over again.
Ngon Garden Restaurant which is located on one of Hà Nội’s most beautiful streets of Nguyễn Du, is also a super-popular place to eat among celebrities, visiting dignitaries, tourists and locals.
The five-year old restaurant has welcomed many high-ranking delegations from North Korea, France, Luxembourg and many others.
The delegates said they would never forget the restaurant for its special dishes that all carry Việt Nam’s own characteristics, and cannot compare to food served elsewhere.
Many of them have promised to return as soon as possible.
Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden restaurants were established by Phạm Bích Hạnh, an original Hanoian, whose greatest desire was to bring the essence of food from the country’s three regions to both local and foreign guests.
Hạnh says she has had a passion for cooking tasty dishes since she was a little girl, a passion handed to her from her grandmother.
“I had to think long and hard for days and nights before opening the Quán Ăn Ngon chain. I had to search for the best ways to create recipes and try my best to improve it. I strive to serve the most tasty dishes to our guests,” Hạnh says.
Hạnh has invited professional chefs, culinary consultants and researchers from all over the country to contribute to creating their mouth-watering menus.
“We are proud to serve as many Vietnamese dishes and specialties as we can to diners,” says Hạnh, general director and CEO of Phúc Hưng Thịnh Co.
“There are no restaurants in Hà Nội where you will find such a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes available. We want to make sure our customers don’t need to go anywhere else. We have everything they seek and everything they love.
“Our strategic orientations are to produce food that has come ‘from street to table’ showcasing specialities from all over the country, served right here in Hà Nội.”
Recognition from Michelin is proof that Hạnh’s hard work, and the amazing efforts of all her team, have really paid off.
“For me and all culinary creators, a Michelin award is a dream we all hope to one day turn into reality.
“We are proud of the award so much, but we won’t rest on laurels. We have to use this as a springboard to improve our dishes even more to bring Vietnamese cuisine to the rest of the world.”
Over the past nearly 20 years, millions of locals and foreign guests have enjoyed dishes at Quán Ăn Ngon and Ngon Garden restaurants.
Now they have a stamp of approval from Michelin, that number will only increase.
“We should never forget our responsibility as a Vietnamese Cuisine Ambassador to preserve and develop our traditional dishes and specialties,” Hạnh says.
A master plan needed for Hanoi Gastronomy
The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) estimates that international tourists spend 25-35% of their travel budget on food and beverages. However, to tap into this “gold mine,” it is vital for the tourism industry to create a food map to attract travelers.
Phung Quang Thang, chairman of the Hanoi Travel Association, said that so far, many travel companies such as Vietrantour, Hanoitourist and TransViet have offered food tours in the capital, but these tours have not yet made an impact. For a themed food tour in Hanoi to be successful, two factors must first be identified: highlights and standards.
Specifically, highlighted dishes need to be recognized for promotion, and professional restaurants specializing in Vietnamese cuisine need to be developed.
“Visitors come on a food tour not only to eat but also to explore and participate in the preparation of the food and experience the Hanoian taste,” Thang explained.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, CEO of Flamingo RedTours, said that culinary tourism is a highly cultural and artistic service.
“Therefore, Hanoi should have a master plan for the stable development of food tourism, encouraging both luxury restaurants and street food, and Hanoi should have a policy for branding and developing internationally recognized restaurants, thus strengthening the position of Hanoi food in particular and Vietnamese food in general,” he suggested.
To promote food tourism, Hanoi has opened many specialized streets, such as Tong Duy Tan Food Street in Hoan Kiem District or Dao Ngoc – Ngu Xa Night Food and Walking Street in Ba Dinh District, for tour operators to conduct food tours.
On a food map of Hanoi after its restaurants were honored by Michelin, Dang Huong Giang, director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, said that according to Hanoi’s tourism development direction to 2030, culinary products and services will be diversified.
To make food tourism products the strength of the Hanoi tourism, the Department of Tourism will soon intensify the promotion of Michelin-starred restaurants and other prestigious diners and eateries through media channels, social networking sites, and domestic and international tourism promotion events.
“We will create a food map so that tourists can discover and experience local cuisine,” Giang said.