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Moving to Hanoi from my small town in the UK was a big step. I’d never even visited Asia! As well as excitement at the opportunity, I had so many questions and doubts based upon the odd TV shows, blogs or YouTube videos I’d seen. Would I survive crossing the road? Would I be able to communicate with the locals? Was I going to have to just eat rice and noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day?
Fortunately, it wasn’t as scary or ‘foreign’ as I expected. Sure, it was a massive culture shock at first, but I soon realised that as well as all the local food on offer, there were home comforts too. I could find UK-style Sunday roasts, burgers, cocktails and brunch. Finding these spots soon made me realise that I could have the best of both worlds.
So here - in my very first article for Hynt! - I’m sharing the really important stuff: where can you find the best brunches in Hanoi? Here we go...
If you’re visiting Hanoi for just a few days, the chances are, you’ll be staying in the Old Quarter and wanting brunch stops close to your hotel or the big sites. Here are my top choices in the Hoan Kiem district.
Lifted is probably my number 1 brunch spot in the Old Quarter. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a proper Aussie-style brunch. Their menu is huge, so it’s perfect whether you’re looking for a healthy start to the day or for a weekend treat. Your choice includes breakfast gnocchi, burgers, frittatas, pancakes and nourish bowls, many of which have options to add extras to suit your tastes. Whopping great milkshakes offer the chance for pure indulgence: glasses are overflowing with creamy deliciousness topped with sprinkles and Oreo crumbs and all kinds of extra delights. A word of caution: you’ll need a real sweet tooth to get through one of these on your own!
Social Club is a great place to hang out whatever time of day. With life drawing classes, live music on Tuesdays and occasionally other workshops, it really is the communal place its name suggests. But if you’re just searching for brunch, it’s a great option too. Its diverse menu includes pasta, wraps, burgers, salads and great coffee too. Set in an old French colonial villa, it’s a spacious and beautiful building perfect for gathering with friends.
Salt & Pepper’s instagram page always makes me hungry! It’s bright, cheerful and shows off their rainbow coloured all day brunches. This is your best option if you’re looking for a ‘Full English’ (as we call them back home) - bacon, sausages, hash browns, eggs, beans, toast… in fact, if there’s a few of you, you can order this on a huge sharing platter! There are plenty of other options too, like poke bowls and burgers. Everything here is done with a little more pizazz’: their avo on toast includes quinoa, a cucumber and tomato salsa and a sprinkling of seeds; their eggs benedict includes ‘kale-naise’. Vegan and veggie options are available, though the menu is more meat heavy than some of the other places on this list.
Many expats live in Tay Ho district which is just a few kilometres (a short drive) north of the Old Quarter. It’s therefore a common area for more ‘western’ coffee shops and restaurants to set up! I live up here, so I’m delighted to say there are plenty of great brunch places on offer just a short walk from my door.
I think I spend 90% of my Saturday mornings at Labonté, and for good reason. It’s mostly vegan - all vegetarian - and is a quiet, understated affair. All their brunches can be served on toast or as a sandwich and the thick, doorstep slices are freshly baked in store. This means the delightful smell of baked bread wafts around the place as you sip your coffee. They’ve mastered cashew cream cheese, hummus and vegan pesto, taking their sandwich game to the next level. What I love most about Labonté is their dedication to trying new things. Whilst their toast/sandwich menu remains pretty constant, they are always trying out new recipes for baked goods, vegan yoghurt and even different flavours of ice cream! You can also purchase their baked loaves to take home, in case you want to attempt to replicate some of their menu.
If you’re the kind of person that believes brunch needs to include cake (which is the truth, let’s be honest), then Eastern & Oriental is the place to go. Their all day breakfast options include a range of styles of eggs, crispy hash browns, homemade granola and smoked salmon bagels, though their large lunch menu is also available for the whole day. With several indoor and outdoor seating options, beautiful views over West Lake, and an even more beautiful selection of cakes - some of which are vegan and/or gluten free - you’re truly spoiled here. Get here early for the widest choice - the bakes get snapped up pretty quickly!
Maison de Tet Decor (often known simply as ‘Maison’ by those who frequent it) is a lovely, large villa with plenty of outdoor and indoor seating over several floors. Overlooking Quang Ba park and surrounded by greenery, it’s a great place for meeting friends for a cool late morning brunch. Their menu is large and there is something for everyone, including veggies, vegans and those needing a gluten free diet. The food is made using fresh, local ingredients and they focus mainly on healthy dishes using whole grains and sustainable products. Because of the space on offer, they also organise markets and events to bring the community together.
Brunch isn’t always the healthiest meal of the day, but if you’re health conscious and looking for somewhere serving up natural produce, head to Lá Studio. Nestled down an alley in Tay Ho, Lá Studio is a small but delightful spot serving up colourful and nourishing smoothie bowls, customisable vegan sandwiches in freshly baked bread and a range of plant-based bakes. The decor is understated but the food speaks for itself. My number 1 choice is the tempeh bacon bagel and a refreshing mango smoothie.
Truc Bach is a neighbourhood within the Ba Dinh district which lies between Hoan Kiem (Old Quarter) and Tay Ho. This is where I used to live, and it’s more authentically Vietnamese than Tay Ho. The streets are full of pho and bun stops, but if you’re looking for a more western style brunch then head to...
This was my favourite brunch place in my old neighbourhood. Ma Xo is a cute and cosy spot overlooking Truc Bach lake, complete with outdoor seats and an upstairs terrace. There is even a quirky upper level ledge with room for a handful of people, reached only by climbing a ladder, for those cosy little chats or focused laptop sessions. Ma Xo’s menu is pretty varied, including the delicious combo of shakshuka and roti, poached eggs with pumpkin roost and pumpkin, halloumi and grain salad. It’s chilled out and a firm favourite amongst the expats living in the Truc Bach area.
Of course, this is only a small handful of the eateries Hanoi has to offer. The city is full of food: every street has numerous places to choose from. Make sure you try some typical Vietnamese breakfasts too, like bun cha or pho, but if you fancy something a bit more indulgent, you won’t be disappointed by the places on this list!