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Street food in Hanoi

A vendor sells tofu along a narrow street leading to Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, which is emerging as a foodie mecca. Soup is a way of life here, but finding the perfect bowl is a quest that will lead you throughout the city. Along the way, you’ll find religion, history, art and the theater of everyday life. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
The entrance to Hanoi’s Dong Xuan Market is bustling with vendors selling fruit from woven baskets. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
A piping hot bowl of bun cha, from a street stall in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The combination of grilled pork, sweet and savory broth with fish sauce, sliced green papaya, rice noodles and fresh herbs is the signature dish of Hanoi. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
Women prepare a variety of soups, with a focus on bun dau (fried tofu soup), in an alley near the Hanoi Opera House. Broth is kept warm over coals in tin cans and diners squat on small plastic stools to consume their food. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
Friends enjoy chicken soup made with noodles and served with liver chunks at a street stall in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
Motor scooters race through the hectic, narrow streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Scooters are the main mode of transport in Hanoi, and drivers stop for no one. Want to cross the street? Do as the locals do and step directly into the fray. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
A bowl of bun dau is served at a street stall in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The light noodle soup with tomatoes, crunchy greens and tender little pillows of fried tofu makes for a satisfying lunch. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
Halong Bay, a three-hour drive from Hanoi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to otherworldly caves and cruise ships that serve upscale noodles. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)
A junk cruise ship raises its eye-catching sails as it plies the emerald waters of Halong Bay, Vietnam. A kayak roped to the back of the ship can be rented to paddle to a little islet filled with monkeys. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times)