How to make Hanoi bun cha
1. Ingredients for Bun Cha in Hanoi
- 500g pork belly
- 500g pork shoulder
- Papaya, carrots, and fresh vegetables for accompaniment
- Fresh vermicelli
- Lime, shallots, chile, garlic, and lemongrass
- Vinegar, sugar, broth powder, fish sauce, shrimp paste, food coloring, seasoning powder or MSG
Tips for Selecting High-Quality Substances:
- Fresh and quality pork belly should have a dry outer layer, a light red or fresh pink color. Choose a piece of meat with a balanced ratio of fat and lean.
- Quality pork shoulder should be firm and have good elasticity. Pressing on the meat with your hand, if it bounces back immediately without releasing any liquid, it’s a good piece of meat.
2. How to Make Hanoi Bun Cha
Step 1: Prepare vegetables
- Peel and thinly slice the lemongrass, then grind and squeeze to extract the juice.
- Grind or crush the purple onions.
- Peel the skin of carrots and papaya, then soak them in diluted saltwater. Slice them into thin strips, then remove excess water. Add sugar, vinegar, broth powder, lime, and chili, mix well. Taste for a balanced sweet and sour flavor.
Step 2: Prepare the meat by marinating it.
- Clean the pork belly and cut it into large thin pieces.
- Clean the pork shoulder and either grind or finely chop it.
- Transfer the cut pork belly to a basin. Marinate it with 1.5 teaspoons of broth powder, 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, and 1.5 teaspoons of seasoning, add ½ teaspoon of food coloring, ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste, and some finely chopped lemongrass mixed with lemongrass water.
- Similarly, marinate the ground pork shoulder with 1.5 teaspoons of broth powder, 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of seasoning, ½ teaspoon of food coloring, ½ teaspoon of shrimp paste, and some finely chopped lemongrass mixed with lemongrass water.
- Marinating overnight in the refrigerator will enhance the flavor of the meat.
Step 3: Grill the meat
- Shape the ground pork shoulder into small, bite-sized patties.
- Arrange the marinated meat on the grilling rack. Brush a little oil on the surface of the meat to prevent it from drying out during grilling.
- Grill the meat until it is cooked and aromatic, then transfer it to a plate.
Step 4: Get the dipping sauce ready.
For a well-balanced sweet and sour sauce, combine 5 tablespoons warm water, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice, ½ tablespoon sugar, minced chile, and garlic. Adjust the saltiness or acidity according to your taste preference. You can use warm or filtered water after blending the ingredients, and boiling is also an option.
Step 5: Completion
Place the vermicelli, fresh vegetables, and grilled meat on a plate. A common way to enjoy is to dip the grilled meat and pickled vegetables directly into the dipping sauce for enhanced flavor.
Step 6: Finished product
Take a platter and arrange the grilled meat, fresh vegetables, and vermicelli. Enjoy your meal, and don’t forget to add some carrots and papaya for an extra touch of perfection!
3. How to enjoy Bun Cha Ha Noi
In Saigon, bun thit nuong is typically served in a bowl, whereas in Hanoi, the herbs, noodles, and meat are presented separately. Both the grilled pork and pork patties take a delightful plunge into the dipping sauce, infusing the dish with a rich combination of smoky flavor and meat juices. To savor the dish, use your chopsticks to pick up some noodles and herbs, dip them into the sauce, gather a portion of the meat, and relish the delightful medley. For a more convenient dining experience, I often just stack everything in a bowl.
Bún chả Hanoi holds a special place as one of my beloved Northern Vietnamese dishes. The delectable combination of smoky, flavorful, and tender meat, coupled with noodles and fresh herbs, creates a sensory feast. Your taste buds will celebrate the moment you slurp up this harmonious blend in a single bite. Having experienced bun cha for over 70 years, my dad is particularly discerning about the taste of bún chả Hanoi. The fact that he gave his approval for this dish marked a significant milestone in my culinary journey. With my recipe, you can recreate this iconic Vietnamese dish right in the comfort of your own kitchen!
4. Famous Hanoi Bun Cha Restaurants
Bun cha is one of the top 7 specialties of Hanoi street cuisine. It’s so widely available that you can get one anywhere, from large restaurants to street vendors, but only local culinary experts can recommend the best ones.
Bun cha Hanoi in Huong Lien restaurant (Bun cha Obama)
- Facility 1: Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi; 24 Le Van Huu
- Facility 2: 14 lanes, 59 Lang Ha, Dong Da district, Hanoi
- Operating hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Reference price per portion: between 40,000 and 60,000 VND
Huong Lien Restaurant is the original bun cha restaurant in Hanoi. Anthy Boundrain and President Barack Obama visited this restaurant because it serves the best bun cha Hanoi. Because of this, this establishment is frequently referred to as bun cha Hanoi Obama or bun cha Hanoi Anthony Bourdain.
When President Obama traveled to Vietnam in 2016, he had a bun cha supper with the late chef Bourdain. “Low plastic chair, cheap but delicious vermicelli, cool Hanoi beer,” was written by the former president Obama. I will never forget this about Tony. He imparted knowledge to us about food, but perhaps more significantly, how it can unite us.
We are honored that US President Obama visited our restaurant to savor bun cha Ha Noi. Both domestic and foreign visitors are becoming more and more interested in our offerings. They thus demonstrated the mouthwatering flavor of bun cha Hanoi.
Huong Lien restaurant serves better spring rolls—such as crab and seafood spring rolls—than other Hanoi bun cha establishments. This restaurant will not let you down, as the broth is cooked in an elegant and delectable manner. Thus, one of the greatest spots to eat in Hanoi is this restaurant.
Bun cha Que Tre
Perhaps because it is located in the northernmost part of the bustling Old Quarter of Hanoi, this simple Bun Cha dish has not yet caught the attention of tourists. However, locals consider it one of the most authentic Bun Cha dishes in the city, especially for those seeking grilled pork on bamboo sticks.
Situated on the sidewalk at the corner of Hang Bun and Nguyen Khac Nhu streets, this Bun Cha spot is a true street food eatery with everything, including the “kitchen,” spread along the sidewalk.
- Address: Ba Dinh, Hanoi; 16 Nguyen Khac Nhu
- Reference price: Each portion ranges from 60,0000 to 110,000 VND.
- Hours: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Bun Cha Tuyet
As one of the long-standing Bun Cha stalls in Hanoi, Bun Cha Tuyet 34 offers an unmistakable flavor. With a traditional recipe, the dipping sauce for the Bun is meticulously prepared, balancing the flavors of saltiness, sourness, sweetness, and a hint of spiciness from ground pepper. A bowl of Bun Cha includes three exquisite types of grilled pork: minced, sliced, and pork wrapped in betel leaves. Notably, the grilled meat is marinated with rich spices, perfectly cooked, and served with the freshest raw vegetables.
- The address is 34 Hang Than in Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
- 8:30 AM–5:00 PM is the opening hour.
- Each serving costs between 35,000 and 55,000 VND.
Bun Cha Sinh Tu
When you visit Bun Cha Sinh Tu, you will be pleased with the friendly and quick service provided by the staff. A serving of Bun Cha here is generous, accompanied by a savory and slightly sweet dipping sauce. The grilled meat is perfectly cooked, ensuring a tender and juicy texture. Additionally, the green papaya salad and fresh vegetables are sourced from reputable vendors, ensuring cleanliness and freshness.
- Address: Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, 316 Pho Vong
- Hours of operation: 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM
- Cost per serving: between 20,000 and 39,000 VND
5. What Places in Ho Chi Minh City Sell Bun Cha Hanoi?
Bun cha has become popular in Ho Chi Minh City because of its mouthwatering flavor. Because Vietnamese food tastes differently in the North and South, the recipe for Bun Cha in Ho Chi Minh City may alter slightly from that of Hanoi. Additionally, cooks may need to modify the recipe to suit the preferences of the locals. In Ho Chi Minh City, bun cha Hanoi may cost more and have a sweeter taste. You can choose between two options for two different cooking styles at select establishments, though.
Bun Cha is available at local restaurants or eateries along the sidewalks. Therefore, you may easily encounter someone while moving around. Here are three restaurants that will offer you the perfect taste of Bun Cha in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bun cha Ho Guom – Bun cha in Ho Chi Minh City
- 135 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3
- 6 Tran Phu, Ward 4, District 5
- 26 Lu Gia, Ward 15, District 11
Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 PM
Price: 47,000 VND
This restaurant chain is widely favored by locals. When you visit here, you’ll experience the bustling and distinctly Vietnamese atmosphere while enjoying the delicious bun cha.
The design of these restaurants is not overly elaborate, but you can see the cooking area. Overall, the space is clean and bright.
Quan Nem Restaurant
- Address: 15E Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ward Ben Nghe, District 1
- Opening hours: 10 AM – 10 PM. This place is usually crowded, especially during lunchtime, so it’s recommended to make a reservation before arriving.
- Price: 100,000 VND per serving
Inside this restaurant is clean and provides a cozy atmosphere with dark brown tones of wooden furniture and warm yellow lights.
The restaurant serves two types of dipping sauce. Therefore, when you order bun cha here, the staff will ask you if you would like to sample the Southern type, which is sweeter, or the Northern form, which is lighter but still delectable.
The pork here is grilled upon order. Therefore, you have to wait for about 20 minutes before eating, but the pork will have a crispy and delicious texture without being burnt.
Moreover, this restaurant is proud of its cha gio (spring rolls) voted by CNN in 2012 and the homemade sweet cold tofu served as a dessert. In addition, there are many types of drinks on the menu such as Coke, iced tea, hot tea, beer, soda, Sprite, or purified water.
Bun Cha Hoa Dong
- Address: Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, 121 Ly Tu Trong
- Hours of operation: 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM
- Price: 75,000 VND
The menu of this restaurant features many typical Vietnamese noodle dishes such as crab noodle soup, duck vermicelli, chicken bamboo noodle soup, and crab noodle soup with tomatoes. However, bun cha remains one of the iconic dishes of the restaurant. The pork here is unique; it is grilled on bamboo sticks and served immediately after being perfectly cooked. Bun Cha Hoa Dong also comes with a small plate of fresh bean sprouts.
6. Travel with Jackfruit Adventure – Discovering Hanoi with All Senses
Bun cha is the essence of Vietnamese cuisine because it allows you to savor the exquisite combination of flavors and textures in one dish, with delicate interplay between the noodles, grilled pork, and fresh herbs. The secret of bun cha lies perhaps in the simplicity of its ingredients and the culinary finesse of the chefs who have turned this street food into a masterpiece of Vietnamese culinary art.
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