Food File: Bun Cha Ha Noi
Bun cha Hanoi (bún chả Hà Nội) is, if it’s not immediately obvious, a specialty from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
Luckily for me, bun cha is available all over Vietnam, even in its southern rival, Ho Chi Minh City. For some reason I’ve had bun cha three times this week, so it’s probably time I let you all know about it.
Like so many other Vietnamese dishes, the name is very literal. Bún is a type of fresh rice noodle and chả is a pork pattie (although sometimes in the South chả is a type of sausage).
Hanoi-style bun cha is a make-your-own dish comprising noodles and fresh herbs served with pork patties and barbecued pork floating in a warm sweet fish sauce-based broth. Spring rolls are often part of the spread.
(As an aside, fried spring rolls are called nem in the north and chả giò in the south … just in case you didn’t think the Vietnamese language was confusing enough.)
I discovered this morning that bun cha tastes even better than usual when eaten outside, under a tree.
There seems to be two ways to eat bun cha Hanoi, and it all depends on the herbs served with the dish. If there are big mustard or lettuce leaves, you can wrap and roll the various components, then dip them into the warm soup. If there are no big leaves, you can create a noodle salad in your bowl.
The little bun cha Hanoi place we stumbled across this morning is run by Bich (pronounced Bit) and Anh Tuan (which sounds like Antoine), who moved from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City eight years ago.
It’s a tiny little place in a sidestreet in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 that’s only open for breakfast. Ms Bich says they stay open til midday but Darling Man and I appeared to be the last breakfast customers when we arrived just after 9am.
The address of Sang Bun Cha Ha Noi (Breakfast Bun Cha Hanoi) is 8B Duong 34 Tran Nao, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
If you want to try it, this is what it looks like:
There’s also another great bun cha place in the centre of town. It’s also down an alley … but it’s much easier to locate than the little shack we found in District 2.
Bun Cha 26 is at 26/1A Le Thanh Ton in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1.
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