Hue cuisine is famous for its royal presentations and aesthetic taste. Even though the food on the street doesn’t have that royalty, the flavors are the same irresistible.
Although belonging to the North Central region and separated from the South by the White Horse (Bạch Mã), Hue cuisine is closer to the Southern-style than to the north. But of course, not so friendly like the far South, and not rustic as South Central, Hue is complicated. The special features of Hue cuisine are moderation, harmony, except … for piquancy. Hue dishes are sound, light, and not so picky but in order to perfect it, sophistication is required at all stages. Therefore in parallel, the rural and the royalty coexist in every dish in Hue. For example, the mussels’ rice consists of rural ingredients like mussels, mussel water, peanut and cold rice.
1. Mussels’ rice
The most delicious mussel rice is only can be found in Hue. Mussel rice is rustic, and it appears everywhere, yet there is something noble in the dish. Mussel rice is made from white rice cooked and cooled. The mussel meat is added additives, along with crispy greaves. Mussel rice is also served with shrimp sauce Hue that is just a little bit more fleshy, bitter, spicy and pungent. Vegetables are eaten along: sliced banana spine, bean sprouts, a little white shredded taro, and roasted peanut.
The rice is the most delicious in cồn Hến, or Little Sister restaurant in Pham Hong Thai Street, intersected with Truong Dinh Street – but the joint is open only in semi-morning until noon. You can also find the rice in 2nd Truong Dinh.
2. Ba Doi soup cake (bánh canh Bà Đợi)
Located on Dao Duy Anh Street, at the end of an alley there is a soup cake joint without a sign. The joint operates as a family business so you have to wait a little longer than usual, so the joint is usually called Bà Đợi (Mrs. Waiting). (Hue locals usually call Waiting Lady). Although soup cake is flat, unlike Quang Binh noodle-style fibers, but the broth is definitely in Hue style.
The joint’s secret broth has the natural sweetness of shrimp. The soup is clear, the bologna and the shrimp are crispy. You will want to add in some pepper, lemon, a little bit of oil-chili sauce and some mince cilantro. Not so many come to Hue and miss the Waiting soup cake.
3. The Sweet Lane (Chè)
If Hanoi has lanes, Hue has 36 different types of “chè”. In any corner in Hue, you can find any type of chè, in any flavor. “Chè”, sometimes misunderstood as tea, is a sweet dessert of Vietnamese. It included many types of beans, and the most important part, coconut milk.
Each type of chè has a special flavor. Chè is delicious, subtle and sophisticated just like the people here. Chè bắp (corn) is cool and pure sweet, cooked with the corn from cồn Hến. The chè hạt sen (lotus seed) with the unique smell of the lotus from Tinh Tam Lake – where they grew lotus just for the royals. There are many types of chè like pomegranate, taro, and many more…
There is a very strange type of chè that can only be found in Hue: Chè with roast pork. Chè usually a sweet dessert, but there is always an exception. Made from the minced roasted pork inside, sticky flour outside and added in some sugar and you have a bowl of chè.
4. Hue vegetarians rice
If you want to have a delight meal and to take a step away from meat, try a vegetarian meal in Hue. The vegetarian dishes are also very diverse and abundant, made from only vegetables, mushrooms, tofu … yet surprisingly delicious.
When in Hue, in order to have these delicous vegetarian meal, you should visit the pagodas, where Buddhist usually cooks some of the most delicious vegetarian meal in Hue. Any pagoda is good, but in Từ Đàm pagoda, which is a nun pagoda, the meal is much more delicious.
In addition, you can also visit the Lotus Vegetarian restaurant – Le Quy Don 3 for the vegetarian dishes.
5. Bún bò Huế
Bun bo Hue is the soul of Hue cuisine. The famous and the delicious fo this dish are not dispute. Bun bo Hue consists of a piece of pork leg, a piece of sausage, a small piece of frozen pigs blood and of course have a few slices of beef. Served with fresh vegetables.The most famous bun bo Hue joint: 13 Ly Thuong Kiet Street (next to the Union hotel). In addition, everywhere in Hue can serve you a piece of its soul.
The key is the barbecue. The beef is marinating just enough so that the smell of beef can remain, yet helps the beef from being dry. The sauce is the other key. Vegetables are usually served along the course.
There are many barbecue joints can be found on Kim Long Street, on the way to The King Lady Pagoda.
7. The cakes of Hue
Having the opportunity come to Hue, you can see how the flat cake (bánh bèo) means to the lives of people living in the old citadel. Anywhere from 3 to 5 pm, on the streets, there are some sales woman who carried her own joint on her back, selling the cake right on the door of the customer’s house. The Hues liked and have a habit of having these tasty cakes in between meals.
You can come to the Bánh Bèo Neighborhoods such as: An Dinh Palace, Ngu Binh Street, Nguyen Binh Khiem Street … to enjoy “culture flatcake” here.
Bánh Khoái (literally in Vietnamese: pleasure) is made from rice flour paste with water and egg yolks, then add pepper, onion, fish sauce, salt, peeled shrimp, sliced roast beef , and sprouts. The cake’s quality is depending on the broth, which only the chefs can make them. This is a traditional secret, which will decide the quality and the premium flavor of the cake.
The most famous joint of bánh khoái is the Thuong Tu banh khoai joint, which has 3 franchises are Lac Thien (6 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, intersect with Tran Hung Dao Street), Lac Thanh and Bach Yen.
8. Hue bologna
Hue has the best Vietnamese bologna. You can find the best bologna on Nguyen Hue Street, where there are two shops of nem lụi. Day and night, the joints are always crowded with dinners who want to taste the flavor of the bologna. Customers eat nem lụi, love nem lụi, and some are addicted to nem lụi.
When eating the bologna, take the rice paper to wrap around the meat, along with the vegetables, pineapple, star fruit, sprouts, sliced green banana, chili … tie the roll with a leaf of cilantro and dip it into the special broth. The broth for nem lụi is prepared from dozens of different materials such as vegetable oil, pork liver, cornstarch, sugar, fish sauce, cinnamon, anise mixed with coconut milk.
9. Hell Rice Joint
The joint is specializing in serving the labor class, who always work late, and the artists of the Old Citadel.The joint is only sales from 11pm to 5am the next morning. The writers in Hue usually jokes “We work in the world, but we dine in the hell”, which is referring to this restaurant. Hell Rice joint is actually a paella dish, mix with little pork rolls, minced eggs, and shrimp sauce….Address: 35 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.