This dish is served with grilled fatty pork (cha) and herbs resting over a plate of white rice noodles (bun) with a side dish of dipping sauce/broth.
It is listed as one of the top 7 specialties of Hanoi street food. Bun cha is so greatly available in Hanoi you can easily find bun cha everywhere, from big restaurants to street vendors, but at a few special restaurants, you can find the best bun cha of Hanoi.
Here are the five long-standing and famous Bun cha restaurants in Hanoi:
1. Bun cha Dac Kim at No. 1 Hang Manh
Located right at the start of Hang Manh Street, bun cha Dac Kim is a familiar destination for many foreign tourists visiting Hanoi. Because the restaurant is quite small, at peak time, diners have to move to the second floor of the restaurant or sit on chairs on the pavement.
The name Dac Kim was originated from its first owner in 1965. The owners of the restaurant to this day still continue to follow its special formula and have chosen the ingredients more carefully.
Specifically, the meat must be a mixture of lean and fat type while the onion, garlic and fish sauce must be of high quality. Then, the mixture will be grilled on the charcoal to create a delicious fragrance.
Each serving of Bun cha at Dac Kim is quite generous with lots of meat and the price is around $3-4. Despite complaints of cramped space or the price being relatively higher than others, this restaurant is always crowded by eaters and has become an icon of Hanoi food.
2. Bun cha at 34 Hang Than Street
Bun cha Tuyet in Hang Than slope is a destination where most diners will agree that its cha is delicious and that the quality is consistent. A set of bun cha here looks nicer because the cha, rice noodles, and herbs are presented on a tray which is clean and pleasant.
Despite its location in the old quarters, a cha set here is reasonable and quite cheap, being around VND35,000 (less than $2). A bowl of cha is full with grilled meat, around 4 or 5 pieces of minced meat and about 10 slices of meat, more than enough to satisfy your needs.
The two types of cha served here are grilled moderately and with a little burning, a soft sweet fragrant taste is delivered.
The minced meat is wrapped in xuong song (a kind of herb), making its flavor so impressive and tasty. Moreover, the sauce is a perfect mixture of sugar, vinegar, and salt.
This restaurant is open from 10 AM to 4 PM and is extremely crowded at noon. It also serves “nem” (spring roll), which sell out quickly.
3. Bun cha at lane 74, Hang Quat Street
When asked about the best bun cha restaurant in Hanoi, many gourmets will suggest 74 Hang Quat street! Although this stall is located in a very narrow lane on Hang Quat Street, it has existed there for over 19 years. This stall has many regulars because once someone tries bun cha here, they will never forget its flavor.
Like other bun cha restaurants, cha here has two types: minced meat and sliced meat. Its sliced meat is favored by eaters because the sliced meat is thin and grilled well to avoid grease. At first look, the cha seems to be pretty dark in color but this is not because it is over grilled but because of the dark color of its sugar sauce.
Thanks to the sugar sauce soaking deeply into the sliced meat, combined with the perfect fish sauce, bun cha here impresses most gourmets in Hanoi.
A set of bun cha here is often VND30,000 ($1.50) and has the ability to please you at noon. Although the restaurant often opens at 9:30 AM, it sell out very soon at about 2 PM. So try to come here earlier to get the best set of bun cha.
4. Bun cha Bach Mai grilled on bamboo stick (Lane 213, Bach Mai Street)
Come to Lane 123 Bach Mai Street to enjoy a very special bun cha, that is not only distinguished by its special flavor but also by its “delayed” serving.
Called “delay” serving because diners have to wait a lot of time for the cha to be grilled well on charcoal and even more time for the line to pass.
The restaurant opens at a loose time (2 pm to 3.30pm) and the price is reasonable at VND40,000 (nearly $2). With such a short time opening, it will challenge your patience for a well-done serving of bun cha here. Once you patiently wait for your turn to be served.
When the bun cha set appears, you will see that the cha, sauce, noodles, and herbs are served separately. Thanks to the bamboo stick, the meat is grilled well and has a special fragrance compared to other types of bun cha. The dish looks so attractive that you will eat it quickly in a few minutes. The tip for you is to come here at 2pm. You will be rewarded well for your patience.
5. Bun cha Huong Lien at 24 Le Van Huu Street
After the memorable evening of May 23, 2016, the name Huong Lien suddenly a world famous restaurant thanks to the drop-in of US President Obama, during his 3-day business trip in Vietnam. He chose this restaurant to have dinner on May 23 to enjoy its famous dish: bun cha.
In fact, this restaurant has been long famous to gourmets in Hanoi since its establishment in 1993. Bun cha Huong Lien restaurant has a moderate sauce that is sweet and sour from a touch of vinegar. The grilled pork is soft and smooth with a strong taste of grilled onions.
Besides a set of bun cha including grilled pork and grilled sliced meat, you should also order one or two Nem cua be (sea-crab spring roll) to serve together with bun cha.
This sea-crab spring roll has a very crispy cover while the inner meat is so delicious and sweet-smelling. That’s why many people patiently wait up to 30 minutes just to have a full set of bun cha here at lunch time.
The space in the restaurant is cool and the waiters are very friendly and enthusiastic. To meet the increasing demand of tourists after President Obama’s effect, the restaurant has just opened a new branch in lane 57, Lang Ha Street, Hanoi.
Price: $2-3/set; extra sea-crab spring roll at $0.3 /piece.