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Everything you need to know for a full day of eating in Hue

Tuesday, April 02, 2024, 15:00 GMT+7
Everything you need to know for a full day of eating in Hue
Various types of ‘chè’ on display at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Aside from its storied regal charm, rich history, and stunning landscapes, central Vietnam’s Hue is known as the home of some of the country's most unique cuisines. 

Bún bò and cơm hến, anytime, anywhere

A bowl of 'bún bò' at Bún Bò Mỹ Tâm at 3 Tran Cao Van, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A bowl of 'bún bò' at Bún Bò Mỹ Tâm at 3 Tran Cao Van, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

People travel from across Vietnam to try an authentic bowl of bún bò – Hue’s most well-known dish. 

Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, bún bò stalls throughout the city are always bustling.

Bún bò Huế – known in English as Hue-style spicy beef noodles – packs a completely different punch than Vietnam’s famous beef noodles phở.

Served in a bowl of broth made from beef, lemongrass, and mắm ruốc (fermented acetes paste), the bún noodles used in the traditional dish of bún bò Huế are served up with sliced beef shank, short ribs, crab cakes, and other toppings.

Some of the most well-known bún bò haunts in Hue include Bun Bo My Tam, Me Keo, and Ba Tuyet, though simply asking a local to recommend an eatery off the beaten path might be the best way to find a hidden gem.

The bún bò shop at 180 Ly Nam De Street, for example, isn’t well known but it’s an absolute treat.

‘Bún bò’ is served at 180 Ly Nam De Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Bún bò’ is served at 180 Ly Nam De Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Cơm hến and bún hến are two other dishes often eaten around the clock in Hue. 

Both cơm hến and bún hến feature hến (baby mussels). 

The difference between the two is that cơm hến is served on rice (cơm) while bún hến is on noodles (bún). 

Both are topped with roasted peanuts, crispy fried pork skin, shredded Indian taro trunk.  

There is also a bowl of baby mussels boiled broth on the side.

One of the most renowned spots to find a cơm hến or bún hến restaurant in Hue is located near the city's Dap Da Bridge.

‘Cơm hến’ is served at a shop near Dap Da Bridge in Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Cơm hến’ is served at a shop near the Dap Da Bridge in Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Afternoon to night: Han Thuyen – the bánh canh street

Bánh canh Huế is another unique eat and the dozens of stalls that line the city’s Han Thuyen Street are known for serving up this dish from early afternoon until late at night. 

A ‘bánh canh’ stall on Han Thuyen Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A ‘bánh canh’ stall on Han Thuyen Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Bánh canh Huế features bánh canh noodles, fish cakes, quail eggs, and pork skin served in a fragrant broth. 

A bowl of bánh canh Huế with all the fixings – fishcakes, ribs, and crab cakes – sells for about VND20,000 VND (US$0.807). 

Boiled quail eggs and crispy fried pork skin are usually added for an extra charge.

‘Bánh canh’ is served at a stall shop on Han Thuyen Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Bánh canh’ is served at a stall shop on Han Thuyen Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Bánh mì Trường Tiền for night owls

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese baguette stuffed with a variety of fillings of meat or veggies.

The most famous bánh mì shop in Hue is probably Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho at 14 Tran Cao Van.

Fillings of ‘bánh mì’ are displayed at at Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho shop in Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Fillings of ‘bánh mì’ are displayed at Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho shop in Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

The shop opens from 4:00 pm to 4:00 am the next day, and often has a line of customers down the street.

The bánh mì served at Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho includes fillings such as char siu, pate, cold cuts, Vietnamese grilled pork sausages, Vietnamese pork rolls, and bánh lọc tapioca dumplings.

Every loaf is customized to order and toasted over a charcoal stove for added flavor.

Loafs of ‘bánh mì’ are heated on a charcoal stove at Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho shop in Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Loaves of ‘bánh mì’ are heated on a charcoal stove at Bánh Mì Trường Tiền O Tho shop in Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

The prices range from VND10,000 (US$0.4) to VND25,000 ($1.01).

Roasted pork sweet soup for dessert

Chè (sweet soup), particularly chè bột lọc (sweet soup with tapioca balls), is one of the most famous desserts in Hue.

While chè bột lọc nhân dừa (tapioca balls stuffed with coconut cubes) are common across Vietnam, chè bột lọc heo quay (tapioca balls stuffed with savory roasted pork cubes) are unique to Hue. 

‘Chè bột lọc heo quay’ (pot on the right, centered row) and ‘chè bột lọc nhân dừa’ at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Chè bột lọc heo quay’ (pot on the right, centered row) and ‘chè bột lọc nhân dừa’ at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Chè Cầm at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street is a great spot to give chè bột lọc heo quay a try. 

This humble stall features nearly 20 pots of mouthwatering chè on a table near the entrance. 

While the combination of sweet and roasted pork balls, chewy tapioca wrappers, sugar water, and crunchy peanuts might not be for everyone, this challenging dish is for sure worth a try.

A glass of ‘chè bột lọc heo quay’ at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

A glass of ‘chè bột lọc heo quay’ at 10 Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Salted coffee: an absolute 'must'

Salted coffee is an absolute must-try during any visit to Hue.

Cà phê muối, or salted coffee, is a 'specialty' that has only become popular in the past ten years in Hue and neighboring provinces and cities. 

Though the salted coffee craze has spread as far south as Ho Chi Minh City, there’s no denying that one of the best versions of cà phê muối comes from Hue.

The most famous place for cà phê muối in Hue is Cà Phê Muối at 142  Dang Thai Than Street. 

It’s easy to find the place crowded with both Vietnamese and foreign guests. 

The shop's signature drink, cà phê muối, is made with cà phê phin (coffee dripped through a phin metal filter) and layers of cream and condensed milk.

‘Cà phê muối’ is served at 142 Dang Thai Than Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Cà phê muối’ is served at 142 Dang Thai Than Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

What makes it stand out from other cups of cà phê muối in the market is that the salt is put directly into the coffee, rather than into the cream. 

Another top spot for cà phê muối is Đại Nam Thái Y Viện Cafe on Doan Thi Diem Street.

‘Cà phê muối' is served at Đại Nam Thái Y Viện Cafe on Doan Thi Diem Street, Hue City, Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

‘Cà phê muối' is served at Đại Nam Thái Y Viện Cafe on Doan Thi Diem Street, Hue City, central Vietnam. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Other unique dishes in Hue include bánh khoái (Hue–style sizzling crepes), bún mắm nêm (noodles served with Vietnamese fermented fish sauce), and bánh Huế (Hue dumplings), among others.

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Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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