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Monday, May 30, 2011

Bún chả…my ongoing addiction

Bun cha (Vietnamese: Bún chả) is a Vietnamese dish, which is thought to be originated from Hanoi, north Vietnam.[1] Bun cha is served with a plate of white rice noodle (bún) and a bowl of sauce that contains grilled meat pork and slices of green papaya. Accompanying foods include nem (fried spring rolls) and different kinds of herd like lettuce and tia to (Perilla).  - Wikipedia

Bún chả
I have been living in Hanoi now for about 8 months after moving here from Atlanta, Georgia USA to say this was a  big change would be an understatement! One of the biggest differences is the food. I live close to downtown Hanoi on Tong Duy Tan commonly referred to as “Food Street”. Food street is open pretty much 24/7 and is lined with street food vendors, restaurants, café’s  and a couple other random shops.

Tong Duy Tan, Hanoi, Vietnam
In the beginning , I was hesitant to experience street food and concerned about stomach issues but soon I “maned up” and tried a couple  dishes like Pho Bo (typical breakfast noodle soup with beef) & mixed rice (stir fried veggies may include small bits of beef, chicken and or seafood) . Then it happened, I came across a Bun cha stand…the lightning bolt struck...clouds parted, the sun came out and I was in love! Two women run this stand on Tong Duy Tan and are open for lunch daily until about 3 ish, I usually try to get there between 12-1pm just to make sure they don’t run out of Nem, which is an essential part in my opinion to the bun cha experience. 

My favorite Bún chả stand
 One of the woman man’s the grill; cooking the tiny pork patties to perfection (for me this is very well done) and frying the Nem in a small pot on the same grill. The other woman brings me a small plate of bun (rice noodle), a bowl of broth with about half a dozen of the pork patties fresh off the grill with thin slices of green papaya floating on top and a basket of salad which varies by the day but usually consists of several kinds of Vietnamese mint, cilantro and butter lettuce. A small side order of Nem is the perfect compliment to this delicious lunch.

Side order of Nem
This is how I enjoy my bun cha. First I add some of the freshly chopped garlic and up to 3 slices fresh of chili pepper to  my bowl of broth, sliced green papaya and meat patties. Then I add some veggies and herbs from my salad basket and enjoy a couple bits of the sweet delicate flavors.
Add garlic, chili, herbs and veggies!
Next I dip a bit of the Nem into the broth while the Nem is still hot; enjoying  the crispiness of the wrapper while the juicy broth seeps out of the roll and into my mouth. Now I add more mint from the basket and add a bit of the bun to my bowl and enjoy. This step can be messy with chopsticks as you slurp up the noodles but who cares, I’m in heaven! Last but not least I add more herbs and lettuce and try to get the perfect bit of the meat patty with that bit of crunch. Repeat all steps over and over again until done.

Regards to the chef!
As you can see I have this down to a science and I should, my longest running bun cha streak so far is 14 days in a row of bun cha for lunch! I have tried bun cha at another stand when I was across town but it was no where near as good…if you are ever in Hanoi, you have got to try the bun cha on “food street” as part of your experience! Enjoy!!

For another intertaining bun cha story follow this link: http://www.thingsasian.com/stories-photos/1031

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