Bun Cha is a Vietnamese dish which contains grilled pork in a sour slightly spicy soup, rice noodles, and lots of vegetables, originated from Hanoi. I’ve tried bun cha in Ho Chi Minh City before, but I still think the best one being served is those in Hanoi area. And today, I’d like to write a blog post on one of the famous and delicious Bun Cha restaurant in Hanoi.
They have two shops, one in Hai Ba Trung area while the other one located in Ba Dinh area. The main shop is the one in the Hai Ba Trung and this is the shop that I went to have my dinner. I’ll write down both shop address, so it’ll be easier for you guys to check which one is nearer to your hotel or house.
Hai Ba Trung (Main Restaurant) : 24 Le Van Huu, Phu Cha Tring, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.
Ba Dinh (1st and the only branch they have) : So 14 Ngo 59, Lang Ha, Cho Dua, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
Based on google ‘s information the main shop open from 8 AM to 8.30 PM without any lunch break, while the branch open from 8.30 AM to 8.30 PM with a lunch break from 3 PM to 5 PM. But, when I come down to the store directly, it’s said that the operational hour is from 8 AM to 8 PM and not until 8.30 PM, so google got it wrong on this one. Meanwhile, I don’t know whether google give an accurate information on the branch store’s operating hour, since I only go to their main restaurant.
The Bun Cha Huong Lien owns by Ms. Nguyen Thi Lien, and is a family run restaurant. This place has been quite famous for sometime as it serves a really good bun cha, but get even more downright popular when the then President Obama and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain comes for visit in 2016 and basically had a dinner in this place.
They prepared the menu not only written in English, but each dish comes with a picture, so it won’t be hard for you to picture the food visually and not just blindly choose whatever is written on it. So yeah, I’ll give this one a plus. You know it can be really hard to choose a local food written in local language without having any pictures on it at all. But if you’re really confused and still cannot make a choice on what to order, the owner helps you to minimize the problem by preparing an “Obama Set”, which includes 1 Bun Cha, 1 Seafood Roll, and 1 Hanoi Beer. If you can’t drink beer, you might want to order the menu ala carte, since they don’t let you to change the drink when you ordered the set menu.
The first thing that’s being served would be the vegetables above and the rice noodle below. Please note that almost every restaurant in Hanoi serves the food slowly, I mean real slow, so don’t get mad at the staffs, since this kind of speed in serving food is basically the normal speed in most of restaurants in Hanoi.
After a wait for like 20-30 minutes, finally the grilled pork is being served along with the seafood roll. The portion of the food here is quite big, so if you’re not a big eater, it might be a wiser choice to choose an ala carte menu rather than choosing to order the Obama set. But if you’re okay with wasting food and prefer to try various things, then choosing the Obama set will be a wiser move. The seafood roll also comes out REAL BIG! But the crab spring roll (there’s a crab spring roll in the menu board) is a small roll, the size is really different from the seafood roll.
Here’s how the grilled pork look like. The grilled pork is being dipped into a soup / sauce (?) which taste sour and slightly spicy. The one I had in Duong Restaurant might look more clean and neat, but I must admit that the Bun Cha I had in Bun Cha Huong Lien taste much more better. Though the visual is just so-so, but when you take a bite of the grilled pork along with the sauce, it’s just melt into your mouth, and you’ll stun for a while before you’ll start to finish everything while keep saying how good the food is. It’s not just about the Obama, this place really has something more into it, as it sells a good ordinary food.
While for the seafood roll, I tried to eat it the way it were, and I also tried to dip some of the roll inside the soup before eat it. It tastes better when you dip it inside the soup, but I must say that unlike the Bun Cha which tastes really special, the seafood roll got nothing special in it. It’s just another spring roll. So, if I ever come back to visit again, I might prefer to order the Bun Cha ala carte and won’t order an Obama Set, since the seafood roll is not to my taste. But well, you guys are welcome to try it out, each of us might have a different opinion on the food right?
Overall, this place is really good. The food is delicious, the price is so friendly with your pocket, even though you’ll have to wait for quite sometime before your food is being served, but I must say that the food really worth the wait. When you see the ‘Obama’ word, you might think that this restaurant is just famous because Obama come to visit, just like what I had in mind when I’m on my way down to this restaurant. But I guarantee you that this one is definitely different, it’s not just because the Obama, but the food itself is really selling and good to have. So don’t miss out this place when you’re around in Hanoi!
What else you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Vietnam? Check this one out!