3rd stop of our street food tour in Hanoi was Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim, also located within the Old Quarters. Actually the stalls that I visited are technically not “street stalls” they are minimally located in a shophouse unit…We reached the eatery at around 5pm, again an odd timing whereby its too late for lunch and too early for dinner. So there weren’t much patrons in the shop. I began to notice that the eateries here typically do not have the culture of displaying photos of the food that they are selling… In comparison to coffeeshop stalls in Singapore, whereby it is common for stalls’ signage to have colourful pictures of the stall’s specialties featured prominently other than the name of the stall.
So unless you had done prior research on the food names in Vietnamese, it would seem challenging to figure out what Bun Cha means. The only menu available at the eatery was the one pasted on the wall, thankfully in English as well. We ordered a set meal of Bun Cha (barbecued pork with rice vermicelli) with Nem cua be (spring roll with sea crab).
Staff prepared our order at a corner of the shop with simple set-up. The barbecued pork and minced pork patties were kept in the steel cookware, I guessed they had chargrilled the meat somewhere in batches as I didn’t see them grilling the meat at the shop front but they were served lukewarm. We were given a mixture of sliced grilled pork and the minced pork patties served in a bowl, along with a huge pile of fresh herbs, rice vermicelli and a room-temperature dipping broth filled with sliced pickled radish and carrot.
The aromatic dark brown meat certainly looks tantalising. After taking a sniff of the char grilled smell from the sliced pork, I took my first bite into the tender & juicy sweet caramelised meat. While still chewing the pork in my mouth, I was nodding my head incessantly and mumbled “It’s good!”
With some of the pork oil still smeared on my lips, I dipped a portion of the rice vermicelli into the clear broth and tried the savoury sauce. The light and zesty broth compliments the earthy intense flavour of the pork perfectly. Although there were condiments such as cut chilli and chopped garlic on the table which the staff told us to add into the broth, we were absolutely contented with the original flavour. Other than the iconic Vietnam condiment – fish sauce, the dipping broth also consist of vinegar and sugar which resulted in a balanced sweet and sour taste. I also tried the minced pork patties but still preferred the chewy texture of the sliced pork.
The small stove placed at the shop front facing the pedestrian walkway was where the spring rolls were freshly fried. The nem cua be were served hot with a golden brown crispy outer skin and a soft & moist filling.
Not foregoing the chance to try the ultra-cheap local beer at less than US$1. =) This is the eatery price, the beers are selling at less than US$0.50 at the supermarket.
Bun Cha has been my favourite Vietnamese dish thus far. Hope I can find this dish in Singapore too…there are way too many eateries serving Pho…anyone serve Bun Cha instead???
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim
67 Duong Thanh
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