Hanoi is a lively city with no lack of choices when it comes to street food. There is so much more to eat besides the already well-known beef pho and spring rolls. The way the locals eat is another unique aspect to Hanoi’s street food scene. As you might have known or seen before, most of the eateries here are a simple set up of a few small tables and stools along the five foot way.
The first dish we tried upon reaching Hanoi was Bun Cha at Hang Manh street. Bun Cha is a grilled pork and noodle dish served with a platter of herbs and a bowl of savory dipping sauce. Here’s how a typical serving of Bún Chả would look like. If language is a problem, just use sign language to indicate how many servings you want. Most Vietnamese food vendors specialize in one dish only so this technique works most of the time.
Anyway, here’s the entire course for Bun Cha and it consists of the grilled pork, Vietnamese vermicelli, herbs (most of them are minty, with refreshing flavors), and a sweet dipping sauce with slices of young papaya.
Nem Cua Be (deep fried spring rolls with crab meat filling) is usually included as part of the meal. This dish could be considered a fancier one and could be found as an appetizer at most proper restaurants in Hanoi.
Our basic instinct tells us that the noodles should be scooped into a separate bowl, mix a handful of herbs into it then drizzled with some gravy from the grilled pork. But it turned out that our eating method was wrong – at least by Vietnamese standards. From what we observed, the locals would dip the noodles directly into the bowl of grilled pork or dipping sauce, while the herbs are eaten with the pork ala Korean BBQ style.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter how you eat it because the taste is really good, albeit the grilled pork is slightly sweet (we found Hanoi food generally to be on the sweeter side) and greasy. We really enjoyed the fatty, thin sliced pork belly which was well cooked and had a crunchy bite to it.
Just for the record the reason we chose Bun Cha Dac Kim is because we trusted the hotel staff’s recommendation. Even though the food was good overall, we were charged differently (3 times the amount locals pay) just because we are tourists.
Sadly, this is not the only stall to practise this as some local food operators believe tourists should indeed pay more. So if you are a person of strong principles and hates to be ripped off, you should try some other Bun Cha stalls instead – there are plenty of them in Hanoi.
Bun Cha Dac Kim
No. 1, Hang Manh Street,
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Business Hours: 10am to 7pm daily