If you’ve tried one Vietnamese food, it’s most likely Pho. While in Hanoi, eat a bowl of a traditional Pho is somewhat of a right of passage. But if you’ve already eaten Pho and are ready for the next noodle dish, the “Bun” it is! In Vietnamese, “bun” refers to rice vermicelli. It’s like Vietnamese spaghetti. Much of living in Hanoi has to do with eating Bun, at anytime of the day.
A bowl of Bun noodle dish is slurpable, and it’s variable with endless combinations that make it taste new every time. Bun on streets of Hanoi is just as surprising and seductive as jazz, with the “improvisation” that sets jazz apart. Here we’re introducing our top 5 noodle dishes (other than Pho) in Hanoi, they’re our favorite stops on our Hanoi food tours, try them all!
1 – Bun Cha (Grilled pork noodle soup)
Bun cha is among the most popular noodle dishes in Hanoi, and it’s the most popular choice for lunch. On almost every street, wherever has smoke, there is bun cha. A warm noodle dish, make of “bun” and “cha” – hunks of charcoal-grilled fatty well marinated pork.
A portion of bun cha consists of rice noodle, a bowl of grilled pork belly and meat balls bathing in the legendary fish sauce diluted with rice vinegar, mineral water, lime and sugar. The glorious eye-catching pork is accompanied with pickled carrots and green papaya. They come with a nice combination of fresh herbs to add on for more flavor, such as purple perilla leaves, cilantro and lettuce.
2 – Bun Ngan (Duck noodle soup)
Bun ngan is a pipping hot noodle dish, containing rice vermicelli with slices of boiled duck creole, an airy of dried bamboo shoots and woodear mushrooms. Beside the rice vermicelli noodles, duck creole plays the main part of the dish.
The sweetness of the broth from boiling the ducks, the creative condiments and spices that come with a bowl of bun ngan, and the texture of each clices of the duck itself… make the dish one of the most popular choices for all types of meals: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and also late night eats in Hanoi.
3 – Bun Rieu Cua (Crab noodle soup)
Bun rieu cua is an amazing red hue vermicelli noodle soup, topped with beef, pork, snails, or all of them together depending on each place. The dish gets its appearance from the tomato paste and the annatto powder (achiote tree). However, the real star of the soup is the fresh water crabmeat. The more crabmeat, the higher quality the soup is. Tamarind paste is used to create the sourness to the broth, airy bits of fried tofu to bring the crunch, and thinly sliced herbs to add fresh flavors.
Before mixing the vermicelli noodle up, add to that the requisite spoonful of vinegar, lime wedges, chili paste and the sliced greens such as lettuce, banana flowers and cilantros – and you find the true happiness.
4 – Bun Bo Nam Bo (Southern Vietnamese noodle salad)
Originated from the south, that’s this beef noodle dish has the words “nam bo” – meaning the southern style. But the dish is found throughout the country, including the capital Hanoi – where it is considered the king of all southern dishes. Like most other street foods in the capital city, the best place to try bun bo nam bo is in the Old Quarter.
The dish is one of my favorite noodle salads. Roasted peanuts, stir-fried bean sprouts and crispy shallots and sumptuous amount of beef gloriously sit on a mountain of vermicelli noodle. The green lettuce and beef add texture and aroma to the dish, while the crunchy peanuts lure us with enticing taste.
5 – Bun Doc Mung (Taro stem noodle soup)
Bun doc mung is an interesting combination of the stems of the giant elephant ear plant (Indian taro), thinly sliced pork hock and feet and savory meatballs. The background is the rich marrow stock and rice vermicelli noodles. The spongy texture from the stems serves as the perfect vehicle to carry the flavors of the noodle soup, making the soup different from other noodle dishes.
The meatballs are made with a mixture of ground pork, mushroom, and seasoned with salt, fish sauce, and rock sugar, then cooked in the broth which is full of tomatoes. The elephant ear stems are peeled, sliced and added to the soup.
Inspired yet? Join us on our Hanoi Street Food Tour to taste any of those top 5 Bun noodle dishes with incredible local flavors, learn about the history of the city and explore the hidden parts of Hanoi with the real daily life of the local people.