The 7 Must-try Delicacies When You Visit Hue – An old capital of Vietnam and an eternal capital of world gastronomy, Hue deserves every mention when it comes to food. If you have only a couple of days to experience the charm of the city, make sure you try some of the below Hue’s finest.
Hue foods are not only famous for the way they are prepared but also for their meticulous decoration. Each dish is like a work of art with a sophisticated appearance, rich flavors, and substantial health benefits.
There is only one way to better understand the uniqueness of Hue food: try them all. Or at least you should finish the list of the 16 most famous dishes below. To make your culinary exploration easier, we have suggested reputable addresses for each. Read carefully for the best taste of Hue!
1. Bun Bo Hue
Bun bo Hue (Hue style beef vermicelli) or more detail, Bun bo gio heo (beef and pig’s knuckle vermicelli) is a popular Vietnamese soup vermicelli dish, and one of the most typical foods of Hue, Vietnam. Fine combination of ingredients make the food famous; the broth is prepared by simmering beef and bones for a long period of time, after that a large range of different spices containing lemon grass and chili are added in. Shrimp paste holds no less importance. Hue people usually add thin slices of beef shank, chunks of boiled oxtail, and pig’s knuckles or pork into the bowl. It can also contain cubes of maroon brown congealed pig blood, which are good for those suffering from high blood pressure. The specialty is commonly served with a plenty of herbs like sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, onions, and sliced banana blossom. Thinly sliced purple cabbage or iceberg lettuces are used in case of lacking in banana blossom. It is highly recommended for tourists to add a few of shrimp paste directly into the soup.
2. Com Hen
Com Hen (rice with mussel) is a very unique cuisine of Hue. Com Hen contains rice, boiled mussel, star fruit, fish sauce, cabbage, onion, pepper, peanut, chili, and a variety of herbs. The specialty is all of these elements are cold. When people eat Com Hen, they add all the above ingredients to a bowl, and slowly add boiled mussel broth with chili sauce into the bowl (the broth is the only hot thing in Com Hen). Com Hen has an extremely spicy flavor as such, so gastronomes remember it just after one time enjoying.
3. Banh Khoai
Banh khoai (delicious pancake) is so much like Banh xeo (sizzling pancake) since they both are made from rice flour, water, turmeric powder, added slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and then pan fried. Banh khoai and Banh xeo also are wrapped in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice paper, and stuffed with variety of herb, like mint leaves, basil and served with a sweet and sour mixed sauce. In Hue, Banh khoai is placed open-face instead of being folded in half like Banh xeo. Moreover, Banh khoai always goes with a fermented soy bean sauce, and people consider it a winter food owing to its greasiness and spicy taste of the sauce. Therefore, most Hue citizens only make them when winter coming.
4. Banh Beo, Nam, Loc
Banh beo (water fern cake) is a kind of small steamed rice pancake. The name is to refer from the shape of the cake (like a water fern-Beo in Vietnamese). It is white in color, sometimes nearly transparent and usually has a dimple in the center, which is covered with savory recipes including chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil.
Bánh nậm is a similar affair to bánh bèo but comes in the form of a flat parcel, steamed in banana leaf wrapping. Each portion is a present to the palate. Ground pork and shrimp embeds itself into the rectangular streak of steamed rice/tapioca bánh nậm inside the banana leaves. Just like the bánh bèo, drip fish sauce across the streak before scrapping the bánh nậm from the banana leaf with a spoon.
Despite various travel sites referring to this troublesome trio as ‘cakes’, bánh lọc (also known as bánh bột lọc) is probably better described as a dumpling. Inside each bánh lọc a tiny shrimp has been spared its shelling – grilled and encased in a cell of tapioca; its prison mate, a chunk of pork belly. Like bánh nậm, bánh lọc is also wrapped in banana leaf and served with a dipping saucer of fish sauce. But those with a tongue for distinguishing fish sauces may notice that the fish sauce is a stronger, saltier grade.
5. Banh Ep
Bánh ép comes from Huế’s nearest beach, Thuận An. The dish now also claims residence in several locations around the city. Like a lot of dishes on this list, it’s a combination of fresh and fried.
Bánh ép is an iron-pressed rice-flour ‘pancake’. Served warm, it wraps a fistful of herbs and mango slices before being dunked into fish sauce and bitten into. Bánh ép’s name comes from the word ‘ép‘, which means ‘pressed’: the batter for bánh ép is pressed in an iron-like device over hot grills before being served.
Bánh ép is a street snack that isn’t meant to be the main event of the evening. It’s a stopover to indulge in between evening engagements. Enjoyed by the dozen, it’s about experimenting with the proportions of the ingredients, finding the right balance then eating as many as you can. Unlike nem lụi, bánh ép isn’t a beer snack. This is clear by the demographic that frequent bánh ép vendors. Most clientele are gaggles of teenage friends or university students. The cheap price and the emphasis on quantity make this an attractive snack for students to binge on.
6. Bánh Ram Ít
Is bánh ram ít all that different from bánh bèo-nậm-lọc? Is it sold in locations separate from those dishes? The answer is no to those questions. Maybe some bias has come into the formatting of this article. Bánh ram ít is both made of near-identical ingredients and sold alongside bánh bèo-nậm-lọc. But finding bánh ram ít is slightly more difficult and the hours of vending seem more limited. Maybe the most important reason for a separate entry for this dish is that those who sell bánh ram ít don’t always sell the best bánh bèo, and those that sell bánh bèo don’t always have bánh ram ít. Therefore, I think it’s worth hunting them down separately.
Bánh ram ít is made of two components: bánh ít – a rice flour dumpling, which is perched on the bánh ram – a small fried rice cracker. Depending on the vendor, shrimp and sometimes pork are within the bánh ít. This devilish duo is then topped with shallots and fish sauce. Dense, each one varies in size from around 1 to 3 bites large. Of all the ‘Huế royal cakes’, I like bánh ram ít the most because it provides the biggest range of textures and tastes.
7. Mam Tom Chua
The central of Vietnam is reputable for its Mam tom chua (sour shrimp sauce) and Hue is the best place for this unique sauce. Unlike normal shrimp sauce (has brown color and smooth surface), Sour shrimp sauce has orange color while shrimps still keep its original shape. It is quite simple to make this sauce. First, shrimps are clean by salt water (do not use normal water to avoid bad smells) and “cook” by strong rice wine. The shrimps will turn red. After that, carefully mix the shrimps with sticky rice, sliced lesser galangal, garlic and chili.
Slowly put all the mixture into a jar covered by guava leaves. Just need to wait for 5-7 days and we have the mouthwatering sour shrimp sauce of our own making. This is the best sauce for boiled pork with vermicelli.