Bun Cha Hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi

Bun Cha Hanoi and all of it's goodness

One of the iconic dishes in Hanoi, Bun Cha is one of our favourite of all street foods in Vietnam. What’s not to love? It’s got two types of pork, a smoking hot grill, a tangy fish sauce dip, tons of fresh veggies and noodles.

What is Bun Cha Hanoi?

Bun Cha starts out with marinated pork belly and pork patties which are placed on hot coals where they grill happily away. A good Bun Cha vendor will cook the meat with a little char on it to give a slight astringency to the meat. Once the meat is ready to go, it is placed in a bowl with some pickled vegetables which are usually carrots, daikon radish and/or onions. With the meat still smoking hot, a fish sauce based broth is ladled on top. This is where the char comes heavily into play. Some of the char should fall off the meat and swim on top of the broth. This extra element takes the broth to a level that is plain heaven.

A winning combination: meat and hot coals
A winning combination: meat and hot coals

It is then served with an accompaniment of fresh lettuce, your typical hodgepodge of herbs and white rice vermicelli noodles. Depending on the level of authenticity of the vendor, you could have sliced garlic in vinegar, chili flakes or limes as garnish.

Get in my bowl!
Get in my bowl!

The dish is almost always accompanied by Nem Cua Be, which is a deep fried spring roll stuffed with crab, minced pork, and mushrooms.

How do you eat Bun Cha Hanoi?

This really depends on you. We have seen it eaten in three different ways. You can roll the meat in the lettuce leaves and make it into a lettuce wrap. This is a bit messy but fun. Another is to use the accompanying bowl to place all the elements into it and dig in. Some people just don’t even bother with that bowl and just place everything in the broth and eat that way. It really doesn’t matter as it’s pretty delish anyway you eat it!

The small bowl option
The small bowl option

How much should I pay for Bun Cha Hanoi?

Expect to pay anywhere from 40,000VND to 60,000VND for a bowl of Bun Cha Hanoi. A portion of Nem Cua Be should run from 10,000VND to 15,000VND.  It’s a bit more expensive than other dishes but Bun Cha Hanoi vendors are usually generous with the portions which means you probably will be full for at least another three or four hours before the next feed!

Gratuitous close up meat shot
Gratuitous close up meat shot

Where do I find Bun Cha Hanoi?

While it’s origins are in the north of the country, you can find this dish all over Ho Chi Minh City. However, you will be hard pressed to find a hyper-local mobile vendor that serves this dish which means you will only get it at a brick and mortar location. Some of the best Bun Cha Hanoi joints are located near the airport on Trung Son street. If you happen to be in the expat enclave of Thao Dien, there is an epic one on Xuan Thuy.

Vinh

Born in Vietnam and raised in California, Vinh’s obsession for food comes from his grandmother’s cooking along with living a few blocks from an In-N-Out burger location. He has lived in the region for over 10 years and is the co-founder of the Cambodian food blog Nyam Penh, which was picked in 2012 as one of top 55 global food blogs by Saveur magazine. You can find his photos and prose in the Guardian, Globe and Mail and Al Jazeera.

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