Bun Cha is one of the most beloved dishes in Vietnam. It is a wonderful combination of grilled pork, fresh rice vermicelli, a warm fish sauce-based dipping sauce, and fresh herbs. Today, let’s go with me to visit a great Bun Cha place in Hanoi.
In 2016, the image of former US President Barack Obama and chef Anthony Bourdain ate bun cha on an official trip to Vietnam made headlines around the world. They sat at a small table enjoying Vietnamese grilled pork with rice vermicelli, a plate of deep-fried spring rolls, and drinking Hanoi beer.
The place they went to that day became a hit. Locals and tourists worldwide put it on their list to visit the same place and order the well-known “Obama Combo.”
That restaurant is not where I will take you with me today. But I hope that even without a special visit, bun cha can still gain the recognition it deserves for being such a wonderful food of Vietnam.
Bun Cha Hang Quat
It is not hard to find bun cha in Hanoi. But only a few are trusted by the locals for their consistent quality. Bun cha 74 Hang Quat is one of them. Nestled inside a small alley in Hanoi’s old quarter, it is one of those places that lets the food speak for itself and attract others naturally.
For years, they serve up bowls after bowls of charcoal-grilled pork drenched in a sweet-sour fish sauce dipping sauce. Toppings include some pickled papaya slices and finely diced garlic. One full plate of fresh rice vermicelli and herbs (tia to – Vietnamese perilla is a must) are served alongside the dish.
The caramelized grilled pork belly slices and pork patties give diners different mouth feels. You are supposed to dunk the fresh rice vermicelli, a small portion each time, into the dipping sauce. Then eat them with some grilled pork, a few herb sprigs, and the pickled papaya. You would want to savor every bits, and it will be gone in no time.
At Bun Cha Hang Quat, only a few tables are placed outdoor inside the alley for people to eat. During rush hour, you may need to wait for people to finish their meals before you can grab a seat. And let me tell you, the place is super packed every day.
On our last visit, we sat at the nearby coffee shop. They gladly accept customers from the Bun Cha place. In exchange, you order drinks from them. The price for drinks is reasonable, and we find the owners and servers super friendly and helpful.
Menu and Price
Like many other great food gems in Hanoi, the menu is not at all extensive. In fact, they focus and sell only two menu items here. You come in, tell the ladies what you want, and that’s it. No print out menu, no fuss.
You can choose to order bun cha by itself at around 2 dollars or add two nem ran (Northen Vietnam’ words for cha gio – deep-fried spring rolls). The bun cha here is wonderful, no doubt about that. Grilled porks and pork patties are both tasty with a wonderful caramelized charred aroma. The side order of deep-fried spring rolls is of small size compared with other bun cha place. Crispy skin and good filling but to me, not a must-order dish. A bowl of bun cha is fully satisfying already.
For drinks, you can order tra da – Vietnamese iced tea or other items like coffee or fresh fruit juices at the coffee shop next door. All in all, the price for a great meal here costs less than 5 dollars per person.
Bun Cha Hang Quat
Address: 74 Hàng Quạt, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 10:30am to 2pm Daily
Tip: Come early to make sure you get a bowl as they sell out real fast