Eating through Vietnam: Hue

Located in central Vietnam, Hue is a city full of beautiful, but a haunted history. There’s also a lot of history and variety to be learned through the food Hue has to offer. From small eats like Bánh Bèo to vegetarian dishes, food is a shared experience worth trying when in Hue.

For a full map of recommended eats, feel free to see here or at the end of the post. This trip was originally taken in April 2017.

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Hue

The Imperial City that once was the home to the Nguyen Dynasty and where the massacres occurred during the Vietnam / American War, Hue has a lot to offer not only in food but also many lessons in history.

 

Bánh Bèo, Nem lụi, Bánh Nậm, Nem Rán, Banh Khoai

When we arrived in Hue, we wanted what the locals would eat. One spot, Hanh Local Food restaurant had it all in a set menu or a la carte that both locals and tourist alike flocked to. Nhau or snacking/bar food which isn’t necessarily a meal but meant to be a snack or eaten along with your drinks, these dishes were by far a favorite.

 

Bánh Bèo

There’s something so satisfying about taking a spoon and scraping the bottom, adding the fish sauce concoction on top and then throwing the thing in your mouth. The most satisfying part is to then stack the plates after finishing to see who has eaten the most. What’s pictured here is probably a tiny portion. For Cantonese friends, this is similar to the sweet version of red bean rice cakes.

Banh Beo

 

Bánh Nậm

On the left, we also got Bánh Nậm, minced shrimp cooked with tapioca flour that’s wrapped in banana leaves. To eat, take a spoon or chopsticks to scrape out the mixture and add a bit of sauce. Fun to eat and leaves your hands a bit sticky.

Banh Nam
Banh Nam on the left

 

Nem Rán

Hello, fried food! Spring rolls are probably the most ubiquitous in America. These are classic.

Spring Rolls

 

Nem lụi & Bánh Khoai

Pork skewers cooked and grilled on a stick of lemongrass, these are Hue specialties that you wrap up in rice paper and eat. Delicious and hot off the stick, these bad boys are so good that we asked for another order. Bánh Khoai is a rice flour cake very close to a Bánh xèo. Crispy and delicious in and out.

Sampler Plate
Sampler plate with Nem Lui, Banh Khoai, Banh Beo and more

You can find all of these above items at:

Hanh Local Food Restaurant

11 Phó Đức Chính, Phú Hội, Tp. Huế, Phú Hội, Vietnam

 

Bún bò

You absolutely cannot go to Hue and not try Bún bò. Elsewhere, it’s known as Bún bò Huế as this beef noodle is unique to this city. Distinct in its red-tinged soup, the noodles, beef, and pork blood make this hearty meal an excellent option for breakfast. In fact, most places only sell this for breakfast. Also, Hue’s version isn’t as deep or pungent in flavor as you would find in Saigon or the states. It’s still just as good.

Bun Bo

You can get this bowl pictured above before 9 AM at 38 Tran Cao Van Street.

 

Bún Thịt Nướng

After wandering around in the old city, this place we walked by that was initially selling Bún bò, they immediately switched at lunch to Bún Thịt Nướng, grilled pork over charcoal on a bed of vegetables and noodles. This was savory and sweet, and it hits all the spot. Also, when that charcoal smoke comes out, you know something good is being cooked on top.

Bun Thit Nuong Dish

We found this on accident at a place that also sells Nước mía (sugarcane juice) on the corner near the Imperial Palace.

 

Cơm hến

Rice dish made with baby clams or mussels. There is also an option for a noodle based. This little dish hit the spot with its crazy mixture of herbs and spices. As we watched the woman prepare it, there were more than eight ingredients layered on top of one another. The peanuts and fried pork skin were the serious crunch needed to give this bowl extra texture. This was also insanely good that we had two bowls.

Com Hen - Clam rice

 

Bánh Tráng Trứng & Bánh Ep

Following Legal Nomad’s lead, these two dishes were such strange ones that we had to try it. Bánh Tráng Trứng is essentially like a pizza those with a much thinner crust and everything you can think of as toppings. I preferred this over the Bánh Ep which is grilled pork pancakes that remind me a lot of Cantonese Scallion Pancakes. Both were good snack foods though more popular with the younger children as an afternoon snack.

Banh Trang Trung
Banh Trang Trung
Banh Ep
Banh Ep

You can find both of these at 14 Lê Thánh Tôn, Phú Hậu, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam, at the stall off the side of the road that opens from 4-8PM.

 

Vegetarian Food

For friends who love Vietnamese food but shy away from meats, there are Hue’s famous vegetarian options. We stopped by a local restaurant as part of our I Love Hue tour. I can’t speak too much on the vegetarian options as I tend to opt more for meat. If you want to learn more about history, you can find out here.

Vegetarian meal
Vegetarian meal

 

Nước mía

While I had this everywhere I went, it deserves a special mention in Hue as this was the first place we got the drink on our trip. Sugarcane juice can be found everywhere. Fresh pressed from the cane out of machines in front of you, this sugary liquid was the natural energy drink we needed as a boost throughout our travels. We tried many variations where some had kumquat added to even coffee and flan jelly as a supplement to the drink.

Nuoc Mia
Nuoc Mia

We found this one at the Night Market Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Vĩnh Ninh, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam.  This place opens from 6 PM.

 

Salty Coffee

Also as part of our, I Love Hue tour, we started off the day with salty coffee. Coffee is well known in Vietnam, and simple variations always trump the coffee you can find in the states. This just had salt added which reminded me of a salted caramel latte minus the caramel. It’s slightly sweet but definitely different from the usual coffees with condensed milk you’d find everywhere in Vietnam.

Salty Coffee
Salty Coffee

You can find this one at Cà phê Muối in 10 Đường Nguyễn Lương Bằng, Phú Hội, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam.

 

Chè

The sweet, healthier dessert of your dreams and your choice. Chè is quite popular throughout Vietnam and given the hot weather, who wouldn’t love some icy cold dessert topped with fruits, syrup, green beans or whatever combination you can think of?

Che
Che

We found Chè — 27 Hùng Vương at 27 Hùng Vương, Phú Nhuận, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam. This is in an alleyway. You’ll know you’re in the right place as this place was packed after dinnertime. We got a mixed fruit (left) and green/mung bean variation (right).

 

Green Mango w/ Chilis & Frozen Yogurt

There’s nothing like street food that may be a bit questionable, but you’re going to give it a try anyway. We found green mango with chili which kicked out tastebuds in the rear. My favorite of all the foods we saw at the Night Market had to be the frozen yogurt drinks.

Green Mango with Chili
Green Mango with Chili
Frozen yogurt
Frozen yogurt

You can find both plus more underneath the bridge where the food vendors all congregate at the Night Walking Market Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Vĩnh Ninh, Tp. Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam.

 


The Full Map

Everything mentioned above is compiled in this map. Best of luck on your food hunt! Share what you’ve tried. Always looking for new places to add to the list as well.


Great resources that helped me throughout this food journey:

Special thank you to Andrew H. for being my personal tour guide, the one to order all the food, and explaining and answering all my questions.


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west & ease
stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work