A Foodie’s Guide to Hue, Vietnam
Before I arrive in a new city I always take time to research the food scene there. Eating and drinking for me is an important way to experience the culture of a place, and as those of you who know me can attest to, it’s also my favourite thing to do.
I had read a lot about the history of Huế and was mainly excited to experience the Imperial City there, so it came as a surprise to me to read that Huế has a big food culture too! The weather while we were there was terrible (worse than England) so it was a perfect excuse to hide away ‘experiencing the culture’ in the form of some Huế specialities.
Bún bò Huế
Bún bò Huế is the Hue take on beef Pho made by simmering beef bones and beef shank with lemongrass and then seasoned with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar for taste. My first stop was to 17 Ly Thuong Kiet Street which is a very simple place on the side of the road (aren’t they all?) with aluminium chairs and tables and no frills. It was a bit of a walk from my hostel and I was drenched from the rain when I arrived and the waitress ushered me in. I didn’t event utter a word before a bowl of their Bún bò Huế, a steaming bowl of delicious noodles filled with beef pieces and beef mice balls, was placed in front of me. As the rain crashed down on the street outside it was the perfect comfort food to cheer me up, and at just 30k dong (£1) it was ideal!
Turns out that I need not have walked so far; you can get good Bún bò Huế all over the city and I have read good things about 35 Tran Cao Van street’s version since leaving.
If you like Dim Sum you’ll love Huế’s version; rice paper steamed dumplings. We’d spent the morning touring the Imperial City and were worn out and in need of food. Strangely we just couldn’t settle on any of the places we passed and found ourselves down a random alleyway being ushered into a restaurant by a toothless grinning man. With no energy to protest we sat down to a menu made up entirely of different types of these dumplings which are served wrapped in banana leaves. From the menu we could not ascertain the difference between all the varieties (all seemed to be stuffed with pork, shrimp or pork and shrimp) so just plumped for Banh Loc and hoped for the best.
The verdict; pretty good! I like Dim Sum and the texture of the steamed dumplings and the filling was tasty, but a slightly strange texture inside. We didn’t try any others because we moved on to find some more filling food, but I will be trying some others again soon!
Another Huế speciality is a pancake filled with pork, shrimp and pickles, beansprouts etc, folded over and deep fried. It sounds bizarre but is actually really tasty. I tried a couple and some were better than others, but all were really only snack-sized if you have the appetite of a small village like I do. Try it as an afternoon snack, or maybe a starter.
Street Food Market under Cau Truong Tien bridge
This was my favourite place during our time in Huế. From the south side of the river go to cross the bridge and on the right-hand side head down the steps taking you down to the banks. Here you can try a variety of local delicacies the way the locals eat them!
My favourite were these skewers of all sorts of different minces (shrimp, pork, snail!) shallow fried in oil and served with chilli sauce.
Other highlights include fresh spring rolls, banh mi, Vietnamese rice paper pizza and the strangest dessert I have ever eaten known as Chè, made up of layers of unidentified sweet and savoury things such as kidney beans, mung bean paste and green jelly, topped with coconut milk.
Not strictly anything to do with Huế’s specialities but I had to make a small nod to this café which is above an art gallery and shop in the main backpacker area of the city. I took shelter from the rain here for several hours on our first afternoon in the city and couldn’t resist a slice of home in the form of this cheesecake which had a chocolate brownie base! I teamed it with two cups of traditional Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk and the affects were long-lasting!!