President Obama fell in love with Vietnamese cuisine when he tried bun cha during his visit to Vietnam. There’s a simple reason as to why.
Hanoi is not only famous for being home to ancient, charming buildings but if you look inside some of those old doors, you’ll find a great culinary culture in Vietnam. In the capital of Vietnam, you can find many delicious local dishes, especially- bun cha. This simple dish is a great combination of savory and fresh flavors, it has a vibrant color and the harmony of the meat and vegetables is incomparable.
When bun cha was first made, it was integrated into the Vietnamese diet almost immediately and naturally. Let’s get to know why the people of this country truly love bun cha.
What is bun cha?
Bun cha is a local dish that originated in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Throughout Vietnam you can find a lot of dishes that share a similar recipe to bun cha (like bun thit nuong in Saigon), however, the dish is unbeatable.
The dish is very simple to make and can be found anytime of the year. It doesn’t matter if you eat bun cha in a restaurant or outside a small cart on the street, you will be served with a plate of vermicelli (bun), a bowl of broth with grilled pork, and a basket of fresh greens.
Bun, the vermicelli noodles, are served on a separate plate. Hanoians are very picky when it comes to cooking and you will see this habit clearly if you notice how each dish typically has a different noodle. To make a decent bowl of bun cha, the vermicelli has to be thin, soft, and chewy.
Cha is the meat of this dish, served in a bowl. The meat is made from pork and cooked in two styles: cha vien (ground pork) and cha mieng (grilled thin sliced pork). It is served with the broth.
The highlight of bun cha is definitely the broth (or dipping sauce). To make the sweet and sour soul of this dish, the cook mixes fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar together. The ingredients might sound simple but the taste varies from one shop to the next because every Hanoin has their own ratio they follow. Diners can tell whether their bun cha is good or bad by the flavor of the sauce.
Without vegetables and herbs, Vietnamese dishes are not complete. In the big basket of greens on the table, you will find fresh lettuce, Thai basil, cilantro, fish mint, banana flower, and coriander.
When and how to eat bun cha
In the past, people usually had bun cha for lunch. Nowadays, since most of the shops are open from morning until night, people can enjoy it at any time of day. There is no right way or wrong way to eat bun cha. However, commonly, there are two ways to enjoy this delicious meal: southern and northern style.
Southern people usually wrap and roll everything they can. So if you love wrapping things, you can use a big leaf of lettuce to wrap the vermicelli, pork, and herbs, then dip the wrap in the sauce and take a big bite. The biggest advantage of this style is you only need to use your hand to eat. So, if you still haven’t mastered chopsticks, don’t worry about it!
If you want to show off how experienced you are, follow the Hanoians. The Northern way to eat bun cha is much simpler. All you have to do is dip everything in the broth, mix it together, and eat it like a bowl of pho. The vermicelli is quite slippery so it can be both fun and challenging for those of you who haven’t mastered your chopsticks skills yet.
Now you know how to eat the bun cha like a pro. The next question is where can you find the best bun cha in Vietnam?
Where to have the best bun cha in Vietnam
Bun cha is the greatest gift from Hanoi of all time so obviously the most appropriate place to have bun cha is in Hanoi. In spite of the fact that many restaurants in other parts of the country also serve this dish on their menu, the flavor is different. Because the taste of Vietnamese food changes from the North to the South, the chefs from Central and South Vietnam will adjust the recipe to meet the needs of the locals. In addition, the price of food in other parts of the country can be higher than in the North. Just eat as much bun cha as you can while you are in Hanoi.
But what if you are in Saigon and still want to try bun cha after reading our fascinating article?
Bun cha is the greatest gift from Hanoi of all time!
Where to have the best bun cha in Saigon
Among many bun cha restaurants in Saigon, Bun Cha Ho Guom is the place which has the most similar taste to the original bun cha from the capital. This is the reason why many bun cha lovers in Saigon usually come to this eatery to experience the taste of Hanoi food. The location is in District 3, right in the heart of the city which makes it very easy to find.
Try their bun cha to savor the sophisticated taste of Vietnamese cuisine and don’t forget to let us know what you think about this dish in the comments after you give this delicious dish a go. Have fun rolling in the food world of Vietnam.
Name of dish: Bun cha
Name of restaurant: Bun cha Ho Guom
Address: 135 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3
Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 PM
Price: 40,000 VND
Enjoy eating Vietnamese food and wanna know some more fun info on certain dishes such as com tam, banh trang nuong, bot chien, and canh bun? Find these and more at Travel Blog P3M!