VietnamFood & DrinksBun Cha - Hanoi’s Classic in Ho Chi Minh City

Bun Cha – Hanoi’s Classic in Ho Chi Minh City

Bun cha is thought to have origins in Northern Vietnam and can be considered one of the specialties of Hanoi cuisine. This authentic dish became even more popular when President Obama and Chef Anthony Bourdain sat at a Bun cha store on their business trip to Vietnam. If you haven’t had the chance to travel to the North yet, check out these places for bun cha in Ho Chi Minh City.

What is Bun Cha

Bun cha is the harmony of three main components: the fatty grilled pork, the rice vermicelli, and the highlight of the dish – the sweet-sour broth.

bun cha quan nem hcm 2

There are two types of pork in Bun cha: slices of grilled pork (Cha mieng) or minced grilled pork (Cha vien). Both types of meat are marinated in salt, pepper, fish sauce, sugar, minced onion, vegetable oil, or grease before being grilled on the charcoal fire. You can choose one of them or order both, depending on your preference.

The rice vermicelli (pronounced as Bun in Vietnamese) differs from the rice noodles in Pho. Although they are both made from rice flour, rice vermicelli is much thinner and stickier. The rice noodles in Bun cha and Bun thit nuong (noodles with grilled pork) are the same.

Dipping sauce – this wonderful liquid is a combination of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water, and some crunchy carrot and green papaya. Despite its simple ingredients, its taste is incredibly delicious and authentic when you combine them.

bun cha crab spring roll vo van tan

Besides the main components, Bun cha would be incomplete without a basket of many fresh herbs, including Thai basil, cilantro, balm-mint, coriander, lettuce, sawtooth leaf, heartleaf, and grated morning glory. You probably can see other familiar things on the table according to Vietnamese style: a little sliced red chili, black pepper, red chili sauce, and pickled garlic. These things are here for you to adjust the dish’s flavor individually. For example, some people might want to add a bit of heat by adding red chili or pickled garlic.

Moreover, you can try Vietnamese crab spring rolls and super crunchy shrimp crackers because they are usually served at Bun cha restaurants. This spring roll has a square shape, with wood ear mushrooms, pork, crab, and other seasoning ingredients stuffed inside. Like Bun cha, spring rolls are eaten with vermicelli noodles and herbs. The shrimp cracker combines fresh shrimp, sweet potatoes, and rice flour.

bun cha crab spring roll vo van tan
The delicious crab roll is served at Bun cha Ho Guom on Vo Van Tan Street
bun cha shrimp potato cracker
The crunchy shrimp potato crackers

Where to Eat Bun Cha in Ho Chi Minh City

Thanks to its delicious flavor, Bun cha has made its way to Ho Chi Minh City. The recipe in Ho Chi Minh City might be a little different from Bun Cha in Hanoi since the taste of Vietnamese food changes from North to South, and the chefs may need to adjust the recipe to meet the needs of the locals. Bun cha Hanoi in Ho Chi Minh City could be sweeter, and its price could also be higher. However, a few restaurants offer two choices for two cooking styles, and you can decide.

Bun cha is available in restaurants or local food stalls on the pavement. Therefore, you can easily bump into one while getting around. However, below are three restaurants that would offer you a perfect taste of Bun cha in Ho Chi Minh City.

Bun cha Ho Guom – Bun cha in Ho Chi Minh City

135 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3
6 Tran Phu, Ward 4, District 5
26 Lu Gia, Ward 15, District 11
Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 PM
Price: VND 47,000

We came to the restaurant on Vo Van Tan Street, which is the largest one. They also have a big red label outside of the restaurant. Therefore, you can spot it easily.

The chain restaurant is very popular among Vietnamese. Coming here, you can experience the bustle, hustle, and iconic Vietnamese style while trying Bun cha.

bun cha ho guom 1
The restaurant on Vo Van Tan Street has lots of customers

Moreover, it is noticeable that the price at these restaurants is more reasonable than the other two restaurants in this list, but the flavor is still great.

bun cha ho guom 2
Bun cha served at Bun Cha Ho Guom on Vo Van Tan Street

The design of these restaurants is not too fancy, but you can see the cooking station. Overall, it is very clean and bright.

bun cha ho guom kitchen
The restaurant has an open kitchen, so you can see the preparation process

Quan Nem Restaurant

Address: 15E Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 10 AM – 10 PM. This place is very crowded, especially at noon, so you should reserve your seat before coming.
Price: VND 100,000/serving
How to get there: this store is on a one-way street – Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, so while riding a motorbike, ride a little slower and keep your eye on the right side of the street, then you will find a cozy dark brown restaurant crowded with many people.

This restaurant first opened in Hanoi in 2003. It now has two more branches, one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City.

bun cha ho chi minh crab springrolls

The inside of this store is clean and brings a cozy feeling with the dark brown color of wood furniture and yellow lights. Quan Nem has two spacious floors and air-conditioners, a great lunch option in Ho Chi Minh City weather. There are few tables and chairs so you can easily reach your tables or move around. The staff here dress in green uniforms and are very quick and polite.

bun cha interior design quan nem
The cozy interior design of Quan Nem on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street

This place serves two types of dipping sauce. So when ordering Bun cha here, the staff will ask you what kind of dipping sauce you want to try: the Northern style, which is lighter but still flavorful, or the Southern style, which is sweeter.

bun cha quan nem
We randomly chose the dipping sauce in Southern style, which is rich with a sweet and sour taste

The porks here are grilled after ordering. Therefore, you must wait 20 minutes before eating, but the pork will come out with a delicious crunchy texture but are not burnt.

Moreover, this restaurant boasts of its spring roll, voted by CNN in 2012, and its homemade cold sweet tofu, served as a dessert. There are also many types of drinks on the menu, such as Coke, iced tea, hot tea, beer, soda, Sprite, or water.

Bun cha Hoa Dong

Address: 121 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 6 AM – 9 PM
Price: VND 75,000
How to get there: this restaurant is on the corner of Ly Tu Trong and Thu Khoa Huan Street, near Ben Thanh Market. You can go straight from the North gate of Ben Thanh Market until you reach the first conjunction; the store is on your left.

This restaurant’s menu has many types of signature Vietnamese noodle dishes, such as crab tapioca noodles, duck or chicken vermicelli soup with bamboo sprouts, and Bun Rieu (crab paste noodle soup). Still, Bun cha is one of the iconic dishes of the restaurant.

bun cha hoa dong 1
The menu on the wall

The pork differentiates this place from others. The meat here is grilled in bamboo sticks and served right after they were cooked. Bun cha Hoa Dong also comes with a small dish of fresh bean sprouts.

bun cha hoa dong 2
Bun cha served at Hoa Dong Restaurant

This restaurant has existed for a very long time. Thus, its old-fashioned design reminds us of the vintage Saigon in the 1970s.

Summary of Bun Cha – Hanoi’s Classic in Ho Chi Minh City

Bun cha is the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine because it offers a sophisticated combination of taste and texture: vermicelli, grilled pork, and herbs, all in one dish. The secret of Bun Cha is probably the ingredients’ simplicity and the chefs’ skillfulness, which have sublimated the street-side dish into a masterpiece of Vietnamese cuisine.

Check out more fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:
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