Bun Cha (Grilled Pork with Rice Vermicelli) is a very common dish that is thought to be originated from Hanoi. Bun Cha can be easily found in Vietnam’s busy capital city from elegant restaurants to simple street vendors in narrow streets. Along with Pho, Bun Cha also stands for Hanoi’s stunning cuisine culture which is the perfect combination of rice products, meat, veggie, spices, and local special dipping sauce.
Hanoi Bun Cha
Bun Cha is available for all main meals in a day, from hurry breakfast to complete lunch then hearty dinner. However, bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital. It becomes more irresistible when the incredibly aromatic smell of grilled pork pervades streets, which tempts any hungry stomach after busy half a day.
Ingredients of Hanoi Bun Cha
As its name, the main ingredients of Bun Cha include Bun (rice vermicelli) and Cha (Grilled pork). Vermicelli (Bun) is also a kind of rice product, but it’s not as flat as Pho. Also made from rice flour, Bun fibers have a round thin shape and its popular type served for Bun cha is tangled vermicelli (bun roi), which is hard to remove separately.
The meaty part of this delicious dish, Cha, is made from pork. There are two kinds of grilled pork served in Bun Cha: pieced pork and pork patties. To grilled pieced pork, the selected part for the most luscious flavor is fatty pork belly, where fairly possesses both lean and grease. To grilled pork patties, pork shoulder is chosen for making the most mouth-watering patties. There is also an accompanying side: sea-crab or pork spring rolls when ordering Bun Cha, which enhances the hearty taste for the dish.
It will be a huge shortfall if Bun Cha doesn’t have its spirit, dipping sauce, which is a very special kind of dipping sauce that is a quintessential composite of Vietnam’s fish sauce, seasonings, and the secret recipe of each vendor. The dipping sauce will be hot served along with cool vermicelli, grilled pork, fresh herb, species, and pickled veggies.
How to make Hanoi Bun Cha
For the pork: Pork is washed and drained, cut into pieces or well-minced to make patties. To make delightsome pieces of Cha, pork is well-marinated with numerous kinds of spices including salts, fish sauce, sugar, chopped small red and spring onion, and black pepper for enriched flavor afterward. Cover and let it be for at least 1 hour. Lay the pork on clean grill nets, start to grill with hot charcoal underneath and leave until sides of meat begin to show dark yellow or browning. Flip the nets over and keep grilling on charcoal until the pork is medium-cooked.
For the dipping sauce: pour the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water in a suitable ratio into a saucepan/ pot, stir well then place on medium heat. When serving Bun Cha, grilled pork is put into a bowl with pickled veggies (carrots, onion or green papaya) then spoon the warm sauce over meat. Diners can add in their bowl of sauce and grilled pork fresh chili, chopped fresh garlic, vinegar with garlic, and lime juice for better flavor.
Side dishes served with Bun Cha include fresh vegetables such as lettuce, perilla, mint, coriander, basil, and crunchy sea-crab or pork spring rolls. Also, a separate plate of rice vermicelli is ready to be dipped into the dipping sauce for one full mouth bite at a time. The incredible taste: meaty, juicy and slightly fatty of the grilled pork, the flavor of fresh vegetables, crunchy spring rolls mixed with sweet and sour dipping sauce and rice vermicelli create a stunning harmony of taste inside your mouth.
Best restaurants to enjoy Hanoi Bun Cha - Where to go?
It’s not hard to find a street vendor serving Bun Cha along narrow streets in Hanoi Old Quarter. As the recipe of Bun Cha is fairly simple and easy, there is not much difference among restaurants. The selling point of each place must be their technique for delicious grilled pork, dipping sauce, and spring rolls. The following addresses are preferred vendors by most locals as well as foreigners finding a local taste in Hanoi.
Bun Cha 74 – Hang Quat, Hanoi, Vietnam
Nestled in a very narrow lane on Hang Quat Street, Bun Cha 74 is still a top choice for locals whenever they’re starving for Bun Cha’s flavor, which is thought to have been existed for almost 19 years for now. Cha here seems to be a bit dark outside, not because of over-grilled but for the dark color of sugar sauce when marinating the pork for sweetness enrichment.
With an affordable price for a full set of Bun Cha, Bun Cha 74 has a large number of familiar eaters every day. Although opening from 10:00 AM, the restaurant is easily sold out, especially at noon, hence it will be closed quite soon, at around 2:00 PM. Try to come here early to get yourself the best set of Bun Cha.
Address: No.74 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Prices: 30,000 - 60,000 VND
Bun Cha Huong Lien (Bun Cha Obama) – Le Van Huu, Hanoi, Vietnam Opened since 1993, honorably served dinner for President Barack Obama and American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain during their time in Hanoi in 2016, Bun Cha Huong Lien has become one of the iconic Bun Cha restaurants in Hanoi. They even have added in their menu Obama set that he ordered here. Due to its reputation since then, there will be a long queue waiting for an awesome set of Bun Cha in the restaurant, however, it’s worth the wait.
Address: No.24 Le Van Huu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Other bases: Lane 59 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
Prices: 40,000 - 90,000 VND
Bun Cha Ta – Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi, VietnamLocated in the bustling street named as the coffee street in Old Quarter, Bun Cha Ta Restaurant at No.21 Nguyen Huu Huan Street attracts mainly tourists for its various choices for Bun Cha with tender grilled pork, delicious dipping sauce, crunchy rolls, and clean and cozy atmosphere. Besides Bun Cha, this restaurant also serves Bun Nem (Rice Vermicelli with Spring Rolls) which is for vegetarians or Rice Vermicelli with Tofu dipped with tomato sauce.
Address: No.21 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Prices: 60,000 - 90,000 VND
Bun Cha Dac Kim – Hang Manh, Hanoi, Vietnam
At first look, so many Bun Cha restaurants here could make eaters confused. But the correct and original address is one and only at No. 1, right at the beginning of Hang Manh Street. Bun Cha Dac Kim is also a familiar address to enjoy a hearty set of Bun Cha in Hanoi to many foreigners. Its brand is named after the first owner’s name who opened the restaurant from 1965. The restaurant’s inside space is limited, hence sitting place is quite cramped. Despite offering higher prices than other restaurants, Bun Cha Dac Kim is still crowded with eaters every day. Bun Cha here is more suitable for those who would like to have a less vinegary taste of soup base.
Address: No.1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Prices: 60,000 - 100,000 VND
Bun Cha is definitely an authentic specialty that you must try in Hanoi. Don’t hesitate to join our Hanoi Street Food tour with our warm-hearted local guide to know more about not only this awesome dish but also other iconic street food in the capital. Make sure to check out our Vietnam Culinary Tours that are particularly designed for any local cuisine’s lover or contact our INSIDE TRAVEL expert team for more inquiries.