Travel Report: Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim, Hanoi.
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim.
As anyone who’s ever been to Vietnam will surely attest, the food is just phenomenal. Having already sampled some of Hanoi’s tasty Banh Mi sandwiches, I was keen to delve deeper into the national cuisine during my time in the capital.
One evening, after a full day exploring, I headed out to try some Bun Cha for dinner. This is one of Vietnam’s best loved national dishes, which they say originated in Hanoi. In fact, there are literally hundreds of places that serve Bun Cha. After some research I opted for a visit to Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim.
Let’s get one thing straight out of the way. There are virtually no airs and graces at this simple, no-nonsense restaurant. Don’t expect anyone to say hi when you enter. And certainly don’t hold out any hopes of a smile.
Rather, just park your behind on an available (probably cracked) plastic stool at a free table. Then wait for the waitress to shuffle over and wordlessly dump the menu in front of you.
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim.
So what the heck is Bun Cha? Basically you’re looking at some delicious grilled fatty pork (that’s the Cha) served with rice vermicelli noodles (the Bun). Usually, they throw some herbs in, such as coriander. And maybe some lemon juice, bean sprouts, sliced carrot and crushed garlic.
Photo courtesy of recipetineats.
My order that evening came in a tangy sweet and sour soup. The waitress also gave me a giant plate of miscellaneous herbs and a bowl of fresh pickles and some evil looking chillis.
Keen to really push the boat out, I also ordered a plate of crab spring rolls, known in Vienam as Nem Cua. And an ice cold Saigon Special beer to wash it all down. It was a wonderful meal and a great start to my monthlong culinary adventures across the country. The final bill came to 110.000 VND (£3.40/€4/$4.80)
I actually went to a number of Bun Cha places in Hanoi. And indeed several more across the country. But I think that first meal was the best. In Hanoi the competition is fierce for the crown of Best Bun Cha. Another major player, for example, is Bun Cha Huong Lien, where President Barack Obama and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain dined back in 2016.
Where to Eat in Hanoi.
You can find Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim at 67 Duong Than Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. They’ve been knocking out Bun Cha here since 1965 and, happily, have managed to survive the challenges of the pandemic. They open every day between 11:00-19:00. If you prefer a quieter dining experience, evenings are your best bet as the lunchtime crowds are often manic.
For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, have a look at my other pieces from around Hanoi.
Like these? Then why not have a leaf through my articles from across Vietnam.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.
We love Vietnamese food also. We enjoyed the French influence in the food also.
Me too. More on the food coming up in a later post. Thanks for reading!
Love Vietnamese food though have only sampled it elsewhere. Hopefully I’ll get there at some point. Great post Leighton, making my mouth water. Marion.
Hope you do too Marion! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy your weekend. We are into our final few weeks in Belgrade, very much looking forward to our adventure in Montenegro.
Wow, didn’t realise that you were moving on to Montenegro Leighton. Hope all goes well and I’ll look forward to hearing about it soon. Marion
Okay, if we can’t visit a temple, this is my second favorite pastime. Never been disappointed in Vietnamese food although my choices have not been extensive. I don’t remember Bun Cha. Now all I need are the cooking directions.
Sadly my cooking skills are exceptionally average, so I would have to point you in the direction of my good friend Mr. YouTube. Thanks for reading!
Bun Cha is amazing, I actually miss it!
We first tripped across Vietnamese food in Edmonton when the Saigon restaurant opened in the mid 80s. We could not believe how delicious the food was and came back pretty much weekly until the kids came along. Since then, we have tried many Vietnamese restaurants all over the world, but never replicated this place. My beloved did take a cooking course and learned how to make spring rolls, cold salad rolls and many other delights. Thanks for sharing. Allan
There’s nothing like an old treasured restaurant eh? Especially when nothing else seems to measure up. Always a little jealous of people who possess kitchen skills. Thanks for checking in Allan.
oh that looks so delicious and tempting and makes me hungry…I love the no nonsense kind of approach to the place too. Sit down and eat good food with no pleasantries to slow down the process 🙂
Ha ha, no pleasantries indeed! Sit, eat, pay, skedaddle. Thanks for stopping by Meg!
Bun cha is so good, I should’ve had more of it when I had the chance!
Well, I feel that too! I had maybe 3-4 during my monthlong trip. Not enough! Thanks for contributing to the thread.
I’ve only ever had bun cha in Paris, particularly in one of the Vietnamese quarters. It was tasty, but of course, I’ve never been to Vietnam to have had it in its original establishment! Very impressed you can handle the hot chilis of Vietnam (and that of Southeast Asia); even I struggle with it!
I didn’t actually eat the chillis ha ha! I should have mentioned that, I don’t have much tolerance for spicy food. Even my favourite food, Indian cuisine, I tend to keep it mild. I can handle a light kick, that’s about it.
Hanoi was our one and only time there. I loved the food we had there ..didn’t have the crab spring rolls…looked yummy.
Thanks for reading!
We weren’t in Hanoi long enough to really sample the food scene (another reason to return) but we had some great local dishes in Hoi An in particular 🙂
Ah yes, wherever you are in Vietnam you tend to be in good hands when it comes to food. Any standout dishes from Hoi An?
The speciality there is White Rose Dumplings, banh bao vac, which are a bit like Chinese Dim Sum, and also Cao Lau, a dish of noodles with pork. We also had some sort of pancakes that were more like very thin omelettes but I can’t remember the proper name for them. In one of the more touristy restaurants I had a very good dish of mackerel in a caramel sauce (sort of sweet and sour) which I really liked too 🙂
Ha, I suspected you might mention White Rose Dumplings. I was lucky enough to try them in Hoi An too and thought they were delicious. I had them at a place called the White Rose Restaurant.
Somehow I missed bun cha in Vietnam. I’ll definitely try it next time. Looks delicious!
I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a bad bun cha review.
Hi Leighton, you’ll recall our time in Hanoi was just as COVID hit. Somehow we got incredibly unlucky..we are foodies and love trying different stuff and are very aware of the reputation of Vietnamese food. Yet in Hanoi we must have just been plain unlucky, because every single meal was dreadful and completely tasteless. So much so that Michaela’s only fond food memory of Hanoi was when she gave up on it and had a tuna fish sandwich! We absolutely have to return to see what we managed to miss out on!
That does sound desperately unlucky! Here’s hoping to a much better run the second time around.
We love to try traditional food when we visit a new country (or even just when we travel to another province in our own country – thanks Covid 😉). That Bun Cha sounds and looks delicious!
Glad you like the look of it! Hope you get to try it somewhere… someday…. thanks for reading!