[Hue, Vietnam] Bún bò Huế from Bà Bớt

One of the best noodle dishes we had in Huế this time was, naturally, Bún Bò Huế - a spicy specialty soup noodle dish which originated from this city. Despite its name - literally meaning “beef noodles from Huế”, its intensely-flavoured broth is actually made from boiling pork-bones and pig’s trotters, but topped with good quality sliced beef before serving.

Huế’s bún noodles are made from a mixture of rice flour and cassava starch, using a hand-press. Huế’s bún tend to be thicker than those in both Hanoi/North and Saigon/South. The Huế people also liked to season their bún with lots of spicy toasted chili and nước mắm (fermented fish sauce).

The broth is prepared by boiling pig’s trotters, pig bones and pig tendon, together with lemongrass and shallots. Nước mắm is added, together with onions.

The noodles are usually garnished with thin slivers of beef, pork, pork-crabmeat balls, and sprinkled with chili flakes and chopped scallions. Shredded banana blossoms, fresh basil (húng quế) leaves and shredded fish mint (diếp cá) leaves are served on the side.

And one of my favourite morsels in the soup noodle has to be the chả viên (pork-crabmeat balls). These utterly decadent meatballs are coloured orange with crab-roe and milt. I first had these in Paris’ Vietnamese-run Chinatown more than two decades ago.

We had our Bún bò Huế fix here at Bà Bớt - one of the go-to place for this dish in the evenings. Always crowded with local noodle-lovers.
DSC00751

We plonked ourselves down on the kindergarten-sized plastic stools and pray that they don’t break halfway through our meal - they didn’t. If I can do it (I’m 6 feet 2 inches and weigh 253 lbs), so can you! :grin::facepunch:

Address
Bún bò Huế Bà Bớt
1 Hà Nội, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế
Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
Tel: +84 379 888 770

8 Likes

My favourite noodle soup! Some shops have congealed pig’s blood cubes and “mam ruot”. I sometimes have to tell them to give these to me because they said “tourists don’t like/eat it*”. I’m not one of those tourists!

(* Same thing in other Asian countries)

2 Likes

Erm. I see in the last photo a reference to “chien”. This is, I hope, a Vietnamese word not a hangover from French colonial times.

“Chien” means fry.

1 Like

Phew!!

Cơm chiên is fried rice.

Although the Vietnamese still eat dogs in winter and cats in summer, as the local guide told us.

That’s like saying “The Americans eat testicles” because bulls’ testicles are served in some restaurants. A more appropriate statement might be “Some people in Vietnam still eat dogs…” The thought of eating dogs and cats abhors many of “the Vietnamese”.

I’ve seen dog on the menu in 2 restaurants in Vietnam. I don’t think it’s popular. That tour guide from Hanoi that told us this fact was in his 30’s and he said that dogs and cats were delicious, I assumed he was a eater.

1 Like

I know exactly what you mean. It was the same in Korea, where foreigners seemed to have this idea that Koreans liked dog meat.

in 2001, I made a business trip to Seoul with an English colleague (we worked for an international freight forwarding company). For a lark, we asked our Korean colleagues if they could bring us out for a dog-meat dinner - not that we intended to actually go ahead with it, but we wanted to see their reaction.

Our Korean colleagues got all flustered and they actually send out some office broadcast on their internal communications system on whether anyone in the office knew anywhere that served dog. Turned out, only 3 staff out of over 350 in our Seoul office had ever eaten dog-meat in their lives. They finally procured an address for us after the Head of Sales asked his business contacts outside. Two of our Korean colleagues offered to bring us there, but they forewarned us that we would be having the dog ourselves, as the two of them would be ordering chicken. :joy::joy::joy:

3 Likes

Thanks for sharing. And this is why blanket statements can be harmful. “The Mexicans” don’t eat insects. Some people in Mexico in some parts of Mexico do. As far as my understanding, eating dog meat is quite taboo for women in Vietnam so it may be more accurate to say that most people in Vietnam do not eat dog. I’m not against eating dog meat. I just feel blanket statements can lead to misinformation or cultural misunderstanding. I think in Vietnam, dog meat is typically served at drinking establishments that cater specifically to dog meat. Is it the same in Korea? In Vietnam, it’s not like you can get bun with your choice of chicken, pork, or dog.

1 Like

Sorry, I don’t want to derail this thread. The bun bo looks delicious. I am enjoying your posts and pictures from Vietnam.

1 Like

No worries at all - always enjoyed tete-a-tete between Hungry Onioners. We always learn new things from these exchanges.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold