Gluten Free Hanoi, Vietnam: The Complete Guide

Welcome to your complete guide to gluten free Hanoi in Vietnam. I’m a celiac who spent two months in Vietnam, including three separate stops in the city of Hanoi. Along the way I discovered the ins and outs of how to eat gluten free in Hanoi. Now I’m sharing what I learned with you!

I will warn you that if you are planning a trip to Vietnam, don’t expect Hanoi to be the very best place for gluten free food. That award goes to Ho Chi Minh City in the south. In general, there is more gluten in the cuisine as you get further north Vietnam.

But don’t worry! I’m sharing everything you need to know in this article, including gluten free restaurants, street food, grocery shopping, and more. Let’s get to it!

NOTE | I have celiac disease and avoid cross contact. Saying that, staff, practices, menus, and hours can all change. I encourage you to always do your own research and ask questions before you dine, particularly about the use of Knorr.

gluten free bun cha in hanoi vietnam
Gluten free bun cha – a Hanoi specialty – at a restaurant in Hanoi! Read more about it below.

Gluten Free Hanoi: What You Need to Know

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, located in the north of the country. It’s slightly cooler (in both temperature and temperament) than its southern counterpart of Ho Chi Minh. Compared to HCMC, I found Hanoi to be slightly less chaotic, a bit more reserved, and unfortunately a bit more of a minefield when it comes to gluten.

Due to its proximity to China in the north, you’ll find a lot more Chinese-style soy sauce (ie, contains wheat) used in Hanoi. Knorr, a gluten-containing seasoning powder, is also more popular in Hanoi. This is because fresh ingredients are harder to come by up here.

Still, I did have some truly lovely gluten free foodie experiences in Hanoi – from devouring classic bun cha and pho to a unique lotus flower tea ceremony. Below, I’m sharing everything you should know about eating gluten free in Hanoi – safely!

Street vendor in Hanoi
I loved all the street fruit vendors in Hanoi!
Fried spring roll in Hanoi
Gluten free fried spring roll at my favorite restaurant in Hanoi.

My Recommended Vietnamese Gluten Free Translation Card

I recommend purchasing this Vietnamese gluten free translation card before you travel to Hanoi, or Vietnam in general.

That is the same card I used throughout my entire two month trip to Vietnam. It was a life saver – particularly in Hanoi where it felt like gluten hid around every corner.

I greatly prefer that card to others on the market because it was created by a celiac who lived in Vietnam, is professionally translated, discusses cross contact, and is specific to Vietnamese cuisine. Basically, it checks all the boxes!

Buy your Vietnamese GF card here.

Gluten Free Hanoi Map

To help you navigate your way around Hanoi, I created this map of gluten free options. You can download it to your phone and use it yourself!

Dedicated Gluten Free Hanoi Restaurants

During my visit to Hanoi, there were two fully gluten free restaurants. I ate the majority of my meals at these two places!

Gluten Free Gourmet

Gluten Free Gourmet is a 100% gluten free cafe in Hanoi. You may recognize it because of their original location in Ho Chi Minh (check out my gluten free Ho Chi Minh guide here). The Hanoi location is newer and quite a bit smaller.

I was a bit disappointed because the pizzas here are MUCH smaller than the Ho Chi Minh location, and they don’t have burgers or other savory meal items on the menu at all. Still, the pain au chocolats, bagels, and other baked goods are the same and they’re delicious.

You can order delivery via Grab, or visit the cafe in person. I did both and I would say that if you can’t visit in person you’re not missing out on much, so just order Grab delivery to your accommodation!

Location: Gluten Free Gourmet Google maps link

gluten free waffles in Hanoi from Gluten Free Gourmet
Gluten free waffles at Gluten Free Gourmet.
Gluten Free Gourmet gluten free waffles in Hanoi
My plate of waffles – with mango and avocado? Odd yes, but definitely GF!
gluten free pain au chocolate at Gluten Free Gourmet in Hanoi
The gluten free pain au chocolats are forever my favorite!

Bun Cha Ta Hanoi

Bun Cha Ta Hanoi was my savior for lunches and dinners while I was in Hanoi. This is a quite traditional Vietnamese restaurant specializing in the dish bun cha, which is famous in Hanoi.

Bun cha is a delicious dish of grilled pork patties with rice noodles and a delightfully tangy fish sauce broth. They also serve fried spring rolls made with 100% rice paper which were some of my favorite things I ate in Vietnam.

At the time of my visit the restaurant was naturally completely gluten free! Yes, I checked and they do NOT use Knorr or any gluten-containing sauces in their broths. Be sure to double check as things can always change.

I ate here so many times I can’t count, and they started recognizing me by name when I came in! I felt very safe eating here and recommend it.

Location: Bun Cha Ta Hanoi Google maps link

NOTE | Bun Cha Ta Hanoi has a sister restaurant in Hoi An, but that location uses Knorr and is not suitable for celiacs. Read my gluten free Hoi An guide here.

Sarah and Dan at Bun Cha Ta in Hanoi - a 100% gluten free restaurant.
The staff at Bun Cha Ta took this photo of Dan and I after they got to know us so well after our million visits, LOL.
bun cha in Hanoi
Bun Cha – a Hanoi specialty, and 100% gluten free at the restaurant Bun Cha Ta!
gluten free fried spring rolls in Hanoi
The fried spring rolls at Bun Cha Ta were my favorite. These were very hard to find gluten free elsewhere in Vietnam due to the use of Knorr and tiny amounts of wheat flour in rice paper wrappings.
Bun Cha Ta Hanoi
The outside of Bun Cha Ta – my second home in Hanoi! Highly recommend to all celiacs.
Bun Cha Ta Hanoi
Dipping the spring rolls into the bun cha… my favorite meal in Hanoi by far.

Celiac Safe Restaurants in Hanoi

Ma Xo Cafe

Ma Xo Cafe is a cute cafe in one of Hanoi’s expat neighborhoods, on the shores of Trúc Bạch Lake. In my experience they are somewhat familiar with gluten free due to their expat clientele, but not quite clued up on celiac needs.

I came here for brunch and ordered the fried potato rosti, which I had to ask them to use fresh oil for so it wasn’t contaminated. They seemed surprised about this but were wiling to accommodate!

Recently, I saw on their Instagram that they’re trialing a “gluten free Wednesday” in which they use gluten free bread for all their products one day of the week. I sincerely hope that’s a success and that they can expand further into the gluten free space!

Location: Ma Xo Cafe Google maps link

Ma Xo cafe in Hanoi
Gluten free rosti, mandarin salad, and of course a Vietnamese coffee.
gluten free rosti at Ma Xo Cafe in Hanoi
My gluten free rosti – they had to heat up new oil and fry it separately so it wasn’t contaminated. Be sure to ask about this!

Hong Hoai’s Restaurant

Hong Hoai’s Restaurant is an okay dinner option for celiacs in Hanoi. Similar to Ma Xo Cafe, I think the staff understands the general premise of “no wheat.” However, they don’t quite understand the other intricacies of celiac disease.

When I visited, the waiter took a quick glance at my translation card and told me most things were gluten free. However when I really urged him to read my GF translation card thoroughly, I discovered that I couldn’t eat the bun cha (soy sauce) or the fried spring rolls (Knorr) or many other dishes that seemed to be mentioned as “gluten free” in reviews on various apps.

Still, the waiter was very accommodating for my needs and did find a couple dishes that they could do gluten free. I ended up eating a beef fried rice dish with cheese and pineapple which was delicious. I didn’t go back to eat here again because of the lack of options and amount of alterations they had to do.

So, I’d say it’s worth it to visit as a celiac but please be sure they do throughly read your translation card otherwise you may be given something unsafe to eat.

Location: Hong Hoai’s Restaurant Google maps link

gluten free beef fried rice in Hanoi.
My gluten free beef fried rice with cheese and pineapple! They had to modify it slightly to be GF.
Sarah eating at Hong Hoai's Restaurant in Hanoi
My meal at Hong Hoai’s Restaurant took quite a lot of discussion back and forth, but once we got there it was delicious.
Sarah eating at Hong Hoai's Restaurant in Hanoi
Delicious and… cheesy!

Pho Manh Cuong

Pho Manh Cuong is a very classic street-side restaurant serving Hanoi-style pho. It’s located in the old quarter area of Hanoi so should be very convenient to get to.

When I visited they confirmed that they did not use any Knorr in their broth and were “all natural” – unlike many, many other places I asked! Of course you should double check that the pho is still gluten free when you visit.

Location: Pho Manh Cuong Google maps link

gluten free pho in Hanoi
Dan and I both got beef pho from Pho Manh Cuong in Hanoi.
Gluten free pho in Hanoi
It was such a relief to eat gluten free pho in a restaurant where they didn’t add Knorr!

Hien Minh Tea House

Hien Minh Tea House was a special highlight of my time in Hanoi. Now, please keep in mind this is not a restaurant, but rather a tea ceremony experience.

I booked via WhatsApp (+84 936251122) and ended up having a wonderful morning of a traditional Vietnamese lotus flower tea ceremony with a tea master. It was such a unique experience and because we were just drinking tea, it was naturally gluten free!

Location: Hien Minh Tea House Google maps link

lotus tea ceremony in Hanoi
My lotus flower tea ceremony was one of my favorite things I did in Hanoi!
Sarah at lotus flower tea ceremony in Hanoi at Hien Minh Tea House
Super happy learning how to make lotus flower tea!
Sarah at lotus flower tea ceremony in Hanoi at Hien Minh Tea House
If they aren’t offering lotus flower tea ceremonies during your visit (summer only) then sign up for a different tea ceremony or just pop by for tea!

Lian Hua Vegetarian

Lian Hua Vegetarian is a small vegetarian restaurant that the owners of Hien Minh Tea House actually took me to, after my tea ceremony.

They ended up adjusting their menu and preparing an entirely gluten free lunch for me, which I greatly appreciated! I’m not sure how gluten free friendly it would’ve been without local Vietnamese help. Still, it’s worth a shot to go in with your Vietnamese GF translation card and ask in advance.

Location: Lian Hua Vegetarian Google maps link

vegetarian and gluten free meal in Hanoi
Lian Hua Vegetarian adjusted their menu to be gluten free for me!
vegetarian and gluten free meal in Hanoi at Lian Hua Vegetarian
I was lucky to visit with some local Hanoians but I think you could also get by with the GF translation card.

Kem Tràng Tiền

Kem Tràng Tiền is a famous ice cream shop located just outside the Hanoi old quarter. Dan and I actually stayed in an Airbnb just a few steps away, which is how we discovered how popular this place is!

I showed my translation card and determined that most of the ice cream popsicles in the freezers are gluten free! Yum.

Location: Kem Trang Tien Google maps link

kem trang tien ice cream shop in Hanoi
The famous Kem Trang Tien ice cream shop has been operating in Hanoi since 1958! Our Airbnb was very close by so we visited a number of times.

Bep Viet Restaurant

Bep Viet Restaurant has a lot of positive reviews from gluten free folks. Unfortunately, I cannot give you my personal opinion because I did not visit.

In all honesty, I was feeling quite burned out from trying new restaurants to only discover that they used Knorr in their dishes. So, I decided to stick with my tried and true favorites (mentioned in this article) or cooking in our Airbnb. It’s definitely one worth checking out, though, and let me know in the comments what you think of it!

Location: Bep Viet Restaurant Google maps link

The Note Coffee

The Note Coffee is a pretty iconic coffee shop in Hanoi. I’m sure you’ve seen it all over social media – every inch of the walls is covered in cute notes!

I’m including it in my gluten free Hanoi guide not because there are tons of gluten free food options here, but because the coffee is all gluten free and it really is a must visit.

Location: The Note Coffee Google maps link

Sarah at Note Coffee in Hanoi, Vietnam.
I just adored The Note Coffee! Try to visit right when they open, before it gets crowded.
A note at Note Coffee in Hanoi that reads: Money comes, money goes. But your story stays with you the rest of your life.
This note really resonated with me!

Gluten Free Hanoi Grocery Shopping

I did cook a few meals in my Airbnb in Hanoi and became familiar with the gluten free options at grocery stores. I’d recommend you do the same.

L’s Place was the best centrally located grocery store (in the French quarter). They didn’t have a ton of specialty gluten free products beyond some granola bars and gluten free pasta, but that’s better than nothing! It was super clean and had western style products as well as packaged cheeses, yogurts, meats, fruit, chips, nuts, and more.

Annam Gourmet Market is another good grocery store option, although it is located further out so you will have to take a Grab here. They sell gluten free specialty items like tamari sauce, gluten free pasta, Schar products, and more.

gluten free pasta at L's Place in Hanoi
Gluten free pasta spotted at L’s Place in Hanoi! I made a few pasta dinners during my time in Hanoi. It was a relief to not have to eat out for every meal in Hanoi, for sure.
cheese sold at L's Place in Hanoi
Dairy products at L’s Place in Hanoi. I found it hard to find good grocery stores in Vietnam and this was definitely one I liked!

Where to Stay in Hanoi If You’re Gluten Free

I recommend staying somewhere with a kitchen in Hanoi. I was really grateful to have a back up option of a kitchen, because after a while I got quite sick of Bun Cha with that being the only truly safe option within walking distance!

As for location, it’s best to stay in either the Old Quarter or the French Quarter.

We stayed in this Airbnb just outside the French Quarter, near Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The alleyway to enter it was deceptively sketchy, but once inside it was immaculately clean and I was so grateful for the kitchen space (and air conditioning!).

Airbnb in Hanoi
The interior of our Airbnb in Hanoi. I definitely would recommend staying here if it’s available.

Accommodation in the Old Quarter and French Quarter

Below are some hand-picked accommodations (all with kitchens and air conditioning) that I’d recommend for gluten free folks visiting Hanoi.

  • Autumn Hanoi House 22: A one bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, in a central location in the old quarter, at a very reasonable price.
  • Cherish Hanoi Homestay: This is a great option for families or friends traveling together, because it’s a reasonably priced three bedroom apartment. It has a fantastic 10 star rating on Booking, as well as a private kitchen.
  • Au Coeur d’Hanoi Boutique Hotel: A higher end (yet still relatively affordable) hotel with beautiful furnishings. You can either book a suite or a deluxe apartment, and the apartments come with full kitchen.
Lanterns in Hanoi.
Beautiful lanterns in Hanoi.
Final shout out to the Hien Minh Tea House lotus flower tea ceremony! A naturally gluten free experience that was so fun.

Gluten Free Hanoi: Final Thoughts

As you might be able to tell, I was slightly unimpressed with the gluten free offerings at restaurants in Hanoi. I felt burned out going to restaurants that had good gluten free reviews, only to be turned away because most of them used Knorr or soy sauce in their dishes.

It’s just a reality we have to deal with that gluten free offerings become a bit more sparse the more north you go in Vietnam. Still, I felt lucky to eat as well as I did. My top highlights were:

  • Devouring bun cha and fried spring rolls at Bun Cha Ta
  • The decadent pain au chocolats from Gluten Free Gourmet
  • A lotus flower tea ceremony at Hien Minh Tea House
  • A lovely brunch at Ma Xo

My gluten free Vietnamese translation card was a lifeline, particularly in this city full of Knorr and soy sauce, and it truly saved me from many a potential glutening.

Please let me know in the comments if this article was helpful, and if you have any updates after your own trip to Hanoi!

Check out my other Vietnam posts…

Ho Chi Minh City Gluten Free Guide

Hoi An Gluten Free Guide

Gluten Free Vietnam: The Ultimate Guide (Coming Soon!)

Pin it for later…
Learn how to eat gluten free in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, in this guide written by a celiac traveler. Includes restaurants, and more.
Learn how to eat gluten free in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, in this guide written by a celiac traveler. Includes restaurants, and more.

Looking for more?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *