Bun Thit Nuong
Simple yet so complex, bun thit nuong has to be one of our favourite street food dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. Translated to noodle meat grilled, it’s a dish that lends well to the climate of Vietnam as it’s more of a salad than a noodle dish.
It’s all about the layers in this dish. The lowest is where the greens are. And there are a lot of them. Chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber and bean sprouts bring the crunch while herbs such as basil, cilantro and mint take freshness to another level. The middle bit is springy rice vermicelli noodles and binds the whole dish.
On top is where you will find the protein. It’s almost always topped with marinated grilled pork. The marinade is pretty much standard with hints of garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce and chili. The only variation I have found is the amount of sugar a vendor puts in their marinade. Some can be sickly sweet while others will keep that sugar down to a bare minimum. Make sure the pork has grill marks on it. These add a bit of bitterness that rounds out the flavor of the marinade. Most vendors will add other toppings such as nem nuong (grilled minced pork patty), cha gio (deep fried spring rolls) or even bi (thinly shredded pork).
You can’t forget the garnishes as well. Chopped roasted peanuts, chopped scallions in oil, diced chili peppers and chicarrones, my favourite, are just a few things a vendor will toss on top. Lastly, a ladleful of the ubiquitous nuoc cham sauce.
All you need to do now is blend it all together with your chopsticks and go to town. I always ask for a spoon as the yummy peanuts always end up at the bottom of the bowl.
Most Vietnamese restaurants will have bun thit nuong on their menu and it will probably be pretty good. But it’s always best to hit up a dedicated vendor as they will specialize in it. There are a few good ones in town. Chi Thong on Co Giang is a well recommended stop if you are in District 1. Just go easy on the nuoc cham there, it’s a bit sweeter than the usual sauce you will find. I usually ask them to cut it with some water and this makes a world of difference. Decibel also has a pretty good bun thit nuong for their lunch special and comes in at 35,000VND.
35 Tran Dinh Xu, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
79 Phan Kế Bính, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City