Flashing back to the trip to Hue City, Vietnam: P2 - A detail Hue eating guide

in SteemFoods3 years ago (edited)

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Hue is well-known as an ancient city but its cuisine is what actually lures me in.

Exploring cuisine is always a huge part in every travel plan of mine. Experiencing and enriching your taste is one thing, but understanding that food is an expression of cultural identity is another. Local cuisine sometimes tells you more stories about that place than anything else. Ingredients, flavors, food making processes, etc. may reflect even history, culture and tradition, which have been passing through generations to present on dishes. That is why my travel plan is always divided into 2 main parts: Where to go and What to eat. In previous post, where to go in Hue city was well presented. This post will be all about the latter “What to eat in Hue city”.

Located in central of Vietnam and being a capital of the country for more than a century during Nguyen Dynasty, Hue indeed can offer a diverse range of authentic Vietnamese cuisine and abundant specialties imprinted with a very Hue style. I didn’t miss my chance to try most dishes that Hue is being well-known for: Bún Bò Huế (Hue beef noodles), Nem lụi Huế (Hue lemongrass skewers), Cơm hến (clam rice), Bánh bèo (steamed rice cake), Bánh Khoái (Crispy rice pancake), Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings), Bánh bột lọc (Hue tapioca dumplings), and many types of sweet soup, to name a few.

I did try my best to eat as much as I could when I was there in 2 days. There were so many things to try, and everything was delicious. I couldn’t help eating like four - five times a day, and even re-visited a restaurant 3 times just to try more food in its menu. Here it comes 10 dishes that I tried and I highly recommend you to do the same.
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1. Bún Bò Huế (Hue beef noodles)

What is being in Hue without trying its specialty – Hue beef noodles?

Being known as a symbol of Hue cuisine and one of the best noodles of the country, rivalling Phở, you can find Hue beef noodles anywhere here in this city. Trying a dish in the place where it is originated, it just can’t go wrong.

Although the dish is famous and popular to the point that you may find it in most places in Vietnam, but Hue beef noodles in Hue still have distinctive features. The broth is what brings so much depth in flavor for this dish. The topping may be various from fresh beef, trotters, meat ball, crap cake, and some cubes of … pig blood (yea. Pig blood. I heard some “eww” already. Lol. It is not that bad, it is just like a black pudding. But if it is too much for you, you can customize and note with the restaurant to leave it out, and the whole thing is still great).

This dish is served with several kinds of herbs like beansprouts, cilantro, basil, mint, sliced banana blossom, etc. I normally ask the restaurant to poach those herbs to soften it a bit before adding to my bowl. I kind of like it that way, but other people may just add fresh ones directly, and it is ok, too. Last but not least, don’t forget to squeeze some lemon and add a bit of chili oil to create a combination and balance of flavor: sweet, sour and spicy. That is how a perfect bowl of Bun Bo Hue is supposed to be.

There is no shortage of options of where to get this dish, but I highly recommend 2 restaurants that are also local choice: Cẩm Restaurant – 45 Le Loi Street and Me Tuyet Restaurant – 47 Nguyen Cong Tru Street. Same price at both place but the former serves excellent broth with not much topping, the latter is the opposite.

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Cẩm Restaurant – 45 Le Loi Street

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Me Tuyet Restaurant – 47 Nguyen Cong Tru Street

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2. Nem lụi Huế (Hue lemongrass pork skewers)

Another specialty of Hue that you can find it easily here. By looking at the photo, you will be able to imagine how it is made. It is basically meat wrapped around lemongrass and then grilled. It is served with special sauce made from peanut, and eat together with rice paper, lettuce, herbs and pickles. When you eat, remember to pull out the lemongrass stick, wrap up inside the rice paper with the meat which has been grilled and scented with lemongrass smell, and all other ingredients served on the table, finely roll it up like a spring roll then dip into peanut sauce. Its taste will make you feel like a burst of flavors in your mouth.

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Hue lemongrass pork skewers at Hanh restaurant – 11 Pho Duc Chinh Street

I tried this dish at Hanh restaurant. I found it on TripAdvisor and it is a real gem. Believe me, in a city where does not have many travelers coming in like Hue, a restaurant with more than 2000 reviews on TripAdvisor is something very exceptional. The restaurant serves almost every dish that Hue is well-known for, especially type of dishes which you can have like snack in the middle of afternoon, or turn into a main course if you have it for dinner, like this lemongrass pork skewers. It attracts both locals and tourists hence it is often crowded, but with good services, you won’t have to wait long.

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So many good reviews on TripAdvisor

Another dishes that I’m going to recommend in this post like Bánh bèo (steamed rice cake), Bánh Khoái (Crispy rice pancake), Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings), Bánh bột lọc (Hue tapioca dumplings) are also from this restaurant, too. This is a restaurant that I had to return 3 times just to try more dishes in its menu, and none of them went wrong. Highly recommend this decent, neat, clean and good-food-serving restaurant to you if you have a chance to visit Hue City.

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3. Bánh bèo (steamed rice cake)

I don’t know if I have translated its name right in English, because it is so hard to find the right word that could describe this dish. The name “banh beo” comes from its shape which is rounded, thin, and flat, just looks like duckweed. For the ingredients, it is made from rice flour which is put in small saucers to steam, then added on top with shredded dried shrimp, fried pork fat, fried onion, etc. and served with sweet and spicy fish sauce.

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It looks so lovely in those small saucers. I and my friend ordered one set (20 saucers). We meant to have it as a snack, but it turned out be our main course as we were so full after this. This one is at Hanh Restaurant, too.
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4. Bánh Khoái (Crispy rice pancake)

I didn’t know this dish is famous in Hue. I didn’t plan to have this on my list of what to try in Hue city either. But when I visited Hanh Restaurant, the fact that people kept ordering this one really piqued my curiosity. It looked so appealing that I could not resist. It is a thick and crispy turmeric crepe filled with pork, shrimp and vegetable like beansprouts and sliced carrots, served with herbs, pickle and dipping sauce.

It is funny that the word “Khoái” in its name means “Happy”, “feeling good” in English. I and my friend keep wonder if it would make us happier after eating. Indeed, if good food cannot make us happier, I don’t know what can.

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Do you think its shape is a bit like Taco? 😄 Other than that, everything is different tho

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5 & 6. Bánh bột lọc (Hue tapioca dumplings) and Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings)

Made from tapioca flour, Hue tapioca dumplings is a small, clear and chewy, filled with pork and shrimp, and wrapped with banana leaves. Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings) comes with similar concept of tapioca dumplings but there are differences in the flour which it is made from, type of leaves wrapped outside, and the seasoning.

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Bánh bột lọc (Hue tapioca dumplings) and Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings)

Both are steamed before serving and you better eat when it is still hot. There is also dipping fish sauce with fresh chili set aside if you want it to be more flavorful. The smell when you unwrap it is very mouthwatering and it tastes delicious, too.

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Bánh Nậm (Flat rice dumplings)

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7. Bánh ướt và bún thịt nướng (Grilled pork noodles and rice rolls)

This restaurant was recommended to me by a local. When I was visiting royal tombs Khai Dinh and Minh Mang (two places mentioned in the previous post), I met a local guy and asked he if there was anything I should try here. I was expecting that he’s going to say Hue Beef Noodles, but surprisingly, he said that Grilled pork noodles and rice rolls are must-try dishes. He even noted me the most famous restaurant for those, and insisted that I must eat there, nowhere else. I was like “okay, I’ll give it a try”.😅

The restaurant is named Huyen Anh, located at 50 Kim Long street. According to him, there are a lot of fake Huyen Anh in Hue, but only the one at this address is authentic. Being highly recommended by a local, so I really expected a lot. When I got there, it was very crowded. There were only three items in the menu, and all is surprisingly cheap. We ordered what we had been recommended: Grilled pork noodles and rice roll. The moment I tasted it, it lived up to all my expectation and I knew it was crowded for a good reason.

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Aww. I need to be back here to eat this one more timeeeee

I don’t know what made it special, basically just a few normal ingredients, but it was so good to the point that I and my friend ordered 5 times, as if we could not get enough of it. This place is a little off the road but well worth seeking out. Besides Hanh restaurant, this place is hands down a must when you visit Hue city.
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8. Chè Huế - All type of sweet soups

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Even though sweet soup is popular throughout the country but Hue is home to many types of it. You may need to spend several days to try all. People normally have it like snack in the middle of the day, or a light meal in a hot summer evening. There are some types that are highly recommended such as: sweet soups with lotus seed, longan stuffed lotus seed, corn, mung bean, purified cassava with coconut, etc. Each type has its own taste and way of cooking. It can be served hot or cold depending on diner’s preference. We wanted to try as many as we can, so we ordered a special set with a bit of each.

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A set of sweet soups. Honestly it was not as I expected, may be because that I tried many things at the same time, so I was not able to distinguish and enjoy fully the taste of each one.

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The one I tried right in the parking lot of the Imperial City on the other day. Much better. Cooling down a whole hot summer day.

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9. Cơm hến & Bún hến (Rice and noodles with baby basket clams)

Rice with baby basket clams is an iconic dish of Hue. When I told people I was going to Hue City, I was highly recommended trying this one. You may find this dish sold in every street, every corner of Hue city, as it is a common, ordinary dish for local people here. I followed a review on the internet and went to a restaurant named Hoa Dong (at Ung Binh Street). The restaurant looked just like a local house made me feel a little bit down, but still expected a lot about the quality of food. It is basically a bowl of rice which is topped with stir-fried baby basket clams, fried pork skin, onion, peanuts and herbs (seem like Hue cuisine can’t go without herbs. 😅), and served with a bowl of clam water set aside. My friend ordered a different version with rice being replaced with noodles.

Overall, it is… not my type. It is not bad but it is just not as outstanding as other dishes that I had in Hue. Perhaps you may find it tasty like other people. Give it a try.

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I found that food in Hue is very cheap. It is hard to find a grilled pork bread with just $0.5, and other dishes come maximum at $1-2 in any tourism places, but Hue. I paid less than $1 for a bowl of baby basket clam rice. We were surprised that if we ordered all items in the menu of this restaurant, like more than 10 items including both food and beverage, it would cost only $6. Lol. We ordered a dish of steamed rice cake, too. But it was not as good as the one served in Hanh restaurant (as recommended at the third listed item above).
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10. Grab a beer in the most crowded street of Hue City

When it comes to Hue, people normally think of a “purple city” that is ancient and peaceful with slow-living pace. I felt the same, too, especially when riding bike through those street lined with beautiful green trees and sweet-scented flowers, when visiting those historical places. But Hue seems to know how to surprise visitors. When the night falls, the inner city turns into a buzzing and vibrant place.

Did I tell you that Hue is home of a popular beverage: Huda Beer? Vietnamese loves beer and we are ranked 2nd in South East Asia for beer consumption. How proud 😆. We have Hanoi beer in the north, Saigon beer in the south, and guess what beer for the central of the country? Yes. It is Huda Beer which is produced in Hue.

Trying Huda beer here is a must. I and my friend went to Vo Thi Sau Walking Street - the most alive corner of the city to grab some Huda. The street was totally crammed with people and all the restaurants are fully booked. The busy scene, the music, the noise of people chatting, etc. really showed a whole new aspect of the city. As there were no room left for us, we just toured around and took a sit in a corner in the end of the street where seemed to be much less crowded.

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We decided to come back on the next day and made sure to make reservation at the most famous beer restaurant there. And finally we had a perfect spot to chill out through the last evening in Hue city, with Huda beer and Hue dishes. Hue cuisine normally comes with spiciness. Although the spiciness may go very well with beer, you should note with the restaurant if you cannot eat spicy food, otherwise, your mouth is going to be burned up.

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A drunken night was a perfect end point for our memorable Hue trip

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@hanggggbeeee


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