Part of our #welcometotheneighborhood series
So you are new to Hanoi? Busy with a new job and demanding schedule, trying to find your feet with your routine, settling into a new home, lots of socialising and exciting new experiences!
Depending on where you have moved from, the transition to life in Hanoi can be quite a shock to the system! We recently met a newcomer to Hanoi, she had just arrived from the States, came in for a trial at STAR and she was so overwhelmed by the move to Hanoi. As she was sharing her thoughts on it all one of the things she told Gemma was “I don’t even know where to buy food?! I just want to go grocery shopping!”
So here is our guide to healthy eating in Hanoi and how to avoid falling into the habit of eating out every night in one of the 1000s of eateries in the city…
But first a little disclaimer, this post isn’t about promoting certain diets, or offering nutritional advice but more of a guide to useful resources and how to help you maintain some habits that can go towards living a healthy lifestyle.
1. Where to shop?
For your weekly “big shop” (as we say in the UK) good places to start would be Winmart (formally Vinmart), Mega Market and Big C. These are your big supermarkets, where you can get most of your day to day products.
Benefits of these stores is that health and hygiene standards are more reliable than the wet markets, everything is packaged properly and has prices!
If you are looking for specific items that you would find back home then certainly in Tay Ho and Ba Dinh districts that are a variety of stores that stock many imported goods, including a growing range of specialist items such as gluten free, vegan, dairy free items. However be warned, these shops are not cheap and most imported items come with a hefty price tag!
2. Cooking at home…
One of the challenges Gemma has personally found is when renting an apartment the kitchen facility is usually quite limited. Having an oven for example in your home is a rare thing, in Vietnamese cooking this is not really something that is used, so having an oven in your apartment is considered a luxury!
Of course if you are not here forever, you don’t want to spend lots of money on appliances. However, there are definitely some smaller items that you might want to pick up to help with your cooking at home. You can pick up many items such as microwaves, mini-portable ovens, airfryers etc. at appliance stores such as Dien May Xanh. Go to branches in Tay Ho and you should be able to speak with a sales assistant in English.
3. Too busy?
Yes, we get it… whilst it is very easy (and quite cheap) to order delivery on Grab, or even eat out every night, you might not want to have to do that all the time.
There are some great alternatives such as healthy meal prep services, our favourite is, who have a weekly set menu, they prep and deliver your meals to you twice per week, just keep in the fridge and heat up in the microwave when ready. What we particularly like about this service is they label all of their meals with macros, ingredients, allergens etc.
Another option is paying for a housekeeper to cook for you, there are many “Chi’s” (aunties) who will go to markets and prepare your meals. Some people have their meals prepared every few days and some have a housekeeper coming to their home everyday to cook.
Facebook is your friend with this option, post on groups such as Where To Get Hanoi, Hanoi Foodies to get recommendations.
All that being said, of course we want to promote healthy living, but… you are in Vietnam and it is really exciting, there are so many great places to try so many cuisines so don’t miss out on exploring!