Bun Cha is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and rice noodle, which is thought to have originated from Hanoi. Bun Cha comprises of two main simple parts, Bun (white rice noodles) and Cha (grilled fatty pork and meatballs).
The dish is always served with dipping sauce, which is made of mixed fish sauce, pickled carrot and green papaya. It is also come with a side dish of herbs, and Nem Cua Be (crab spring rolls).
Arranged on the table are small plates and bowls containing the remaining ingredients to add your own finishing touches.
An oversized plate is a medley of lettuce leaves, perilla leaves, coriander and mint. A small plate of chopped fresh garlic, fresh sliced chili, black pepper, and a small jar of rice vinegar.
These ingredients are not meant to serve as a garnish, and on the side to flavor the dish to your tasting.
Vu Bang (1913–1984), a famous Vietnamese food writer, described Hanoi as a town "transfixed by Bun Cha". He also said the first Bun Cha restaurant in Hanoi was on Gia Ngu Street, north of Hoan Kiem Lake.
U.S. President Barack Obama recently made this special dish of Hanoi internationally well-known when he ate Bun Cha on his first night here in 2016. He found himself eating a cheap bowl of noodles, perched on a blue plastic stool in a modest street-side restaurant.
If you are out and about mid-morning, then you are guaranteed to smell the smoky scent of pork grilling over coals on the footpaths prior to a roaring lunch trade.
Bun Cha originated and remains very popular in Hanoi. The dish could be found everywhere in Hanoi from an outlet on the sidewalk, a storefront, or a stall at a market to a restaurant.
In a story about street food in Vietnam, The New York Times mentioned bun cha as “a classic Hanoi meal of charcoal-grilled pork slices and pork patties, served over thin noodles”.
Lauren Shockey, a Vietnamese culinary author, once said: "After Pho, Bun Cha is one of Hanoi's most famous dishes and is a delicious summertime lunch or light dinner. In Hanoi, you'll know you're at a bun cha stand by the smoke wafting from the charcoal grills. Living in New York City, I don't have the luxury of cooking pork on a charcoal grill, but my stove's broiler works just fine."
“Pho might be Vietnam’s most famous morning dish, but Bun Cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital” said a local foodie.
Hanoi’s most famous Bun Cha:
- Bun Cha Gia Ngu, 25 Gia Ngu Street (Lunch only).
- Bun Cha Dac Kim, 1 Hang Manh Street.
- Bun Cha Duy Diem, 140 Ngoc Khanh Street (Lunch only).
- Bun Cha Sinh Tu, 8 Ta Quang Buu Street (Lunch only).
- Bun Cha 34, 34 Hang Than Street (Lunch only).
- Bun Cha Huong Lien, 24 Le Van Huu Street (where President Obama and renowned American chef Anthony Bourdain stopped for dinner).