Bún chả, one of our favorite eats while in northern Vietnam.
Bún, is the round rice noodle that was used in the dish and chả means grilled fatty pork that was seasoned and grilled to perfection. Bún chả is often served with Nem Ran, a Vietnamese deep fried spring roll.
One great thing about street food in Vietnam is that most places serves only one signature dish. So as you sit down, just gesture how many dishes you’d like then your food will be brought to you in no time! Perfect for foodies who doesn’t speak the local language.
As we sat down on the little stools and gestured the number of our dishes a basket of fresh herb and rice noodles were brought to us. Soon after came the bowl of chả , the charcoal grilled, caramelized fatty pork slices and a sort of pork meatball soaked in a broth made with fish sauce, sugar and sliced green papaya.
The basket of greens consists of Thai basil, cilantro, perilla, mint, Vietnamese coriander and lettuce. I don’t usually like fatty food nor meat, but the herbs really help cuts the fat down and enhanced the flavor of the whole dish. There are also chili, calamansi and pickled garlic on the side to add to your dish according to your taste.
Bún chả hàng mành – Đắc Kim
We’d been to three different location for this dish, and even though Bún chả hàng mành – Đắc Kim seems to be the more famous, tourist friendly, and more reviewed one we definitely preferred the one at #41, Cửa Đông. It’s not an actual building, it’s a eat-on-the-sidewalk experience, but isn’t that what street food is all about?
41, Cửa Đông
As for why we liked it better, 41 grill their meat right in front of you, take in the sweet smoke of charred meat and spices as you slurp up a big mouth full of rice noodles coated with savory sauce. It also means that the barbecued meat is fresher, crispier, and juicier. The greens are fresher and doesn’t seem like it had been touched by 50 other people. Plus it just seemed like a more authentic street food experience (and less touristy!)
However, the upside of Đắc Kim is that they’re opened all day and 41 closes in the afternoon so get there before 3pm! (I’m not 100% sure if they’re opened for dinner, since bun cha seemed more like a breakfast/lunch thing in Hanoi)
If you’re ever in Hanoi, get yourself a bowl of bún chả at our favorite place!