When life gives you bananas, particularly those of the abundantly sweet tropical variety, you ceremoniously eat them in as many ways humanly possible. Luckily for those that reside in Hanoi, the city is host to a plethora of yellow-tinged creations that use the ubiquitous fruit in a number of miscellaneous ways. Here’s a bunch (I couldn’t resist) of the best places to hit the spot when the banana cravings hit hard.
Bánh chuối (deep fried banana cake)
Deep fried banana cakes are the quintessential Vietnamese snack and you’d be hard pressed not to stumble upon a street stall frying up the golden crispy ovals. Using ripe bananas is advantageous for their extra kick in sweetness, and once thinly sliced in half and covered in a liquid batter, you’ll most commonly find them bubbling away in piping hot oil alongside sweet potato and corn cakes.
Although many bánh chuối vendors are ambulatory, check out more stable fixture on 2 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi to up your banana game.
Chuối nếp nướng (grilled banana wrapped in sticky rice)
Although the spectrum of Vietnamese desserts is a whole other realm in itself, chuối nếp nướng is a street food favourite. The fruit is wrapped in sticky rice and kept together with a single banana leaf to keep the moisture locked in. It is then being grilled like a skewer of meat. The key factor of the dish lies in the ample servings of coconut milk mixed with water and sugar. Topped off with coconut flakes and a sprinkle of chopped peanuts, and voila!
Try your luck for a helping of chuối nếp nướng on the corner of 1 Hang Duong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Bánh mì chuối nướng (banana bread cake)
With a historical french influence that gradually seeped into Vietnam’s cuisine, banana bread is a staple found in any French-style or locally owned bakery in the city. The Vietnamese version of the baked good is more of a cross between a flan and a bread pudding that is packed with a healthy dose of ripe bananas.
Head over to Saint Honore on 24 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi for a slice of heaven.
“Chè” in Vietnamese refers to any type of dessert with a liquid consistency. Chè chuối consists of a sweetened banana mixture with rich coconut cream and tapioca pearls, with the option of serving it hot or cold.
With a secret family recipe that has won over the hearts of residents since its opening, Che Thai Doi Can (find at 75 Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Hanoi) was one of the first dessert shops of its kind to pop up in the city several decades ago, with many following suit soon after.
Long Bien’s banana island
Although not a banana-based dish in itself, the Long Bien Banana plantation is one of the most unique nooks of the city to experience the fruit in its original form. Nestled between rice paddies and Long Bien bridge is an unlikely jungle area with thousands of towering banana trees. The quiet oasis is home to a diverse crowd of farmers, fisherman and (believe it or not) nudists.