In many of Anthony Bourdain’s quotes, Vietnamese food always had him on an adventure of discovering not only the tastes, the smells, the flavors but also the culture and stories behind. To follow his footsteps, we can’t miss mentioning Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city – places where street food culture really shines. Indeed, the street food in Hanoi is amazing EVERYWHERE, so you really can’t go wrong. But, it can be hard to decipher what’s being prepared around you (dog meat? pig’s feet? sea-worms?). Let’s follow of Anthony Bourdain Vietnam checklist and discover Vietnam food tour with Top Vietnam.
Follow Anthony Bourdain Journey to Indochina
Anthony Bourdain, as he said it himself, was a Southeast Asian enthusiast – he dug deep into the culture and food scene of many countries in the region with inspiring journeys to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He visited these countries again and again, telling stories that were once hidden, showing the world all the parts unknown. Be inspired by the stories of Anthony Bourdain on his incredible journeys of discovering food and culture in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in our centerpiece of Anthony Bourdain series: Follow Anthony Bourdain In Indochina – A Journey Of Discovering Food And Culture
#1 – Bun Oc Pho Co (Bun Oc – Snail Vermicelli RiceSoup) – 36 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hanoi
At the start of the episode, Anthony Bourdain took some soup with snails, fresh herbs, tomatoes, noodles, and broth. You’ll find all kinds of soup in Vietnam, Pho( Noodle) being the most classic, but this one is indeed special, with more flavor (plus snails!) than your usual soup fare. Get there in the morning, we stopped by in the afternoon and she had already packed up her operation.
#2 – (Banh Cuon – Steamed Rice Pancake Rolls)- 49 Ham Tu Quan , Hanoi
These mushroom and pork rice pancakes are a slippery treat that looks kind of gross, but tastes super good. You can get them all over Hanoi, Vietnam (the scene was shot here because the woman he dines with during the episode lives across the street), but the family that owns this place is unbelievably sweet.
#3 – Cussing Noodles – 41 Ngo Sy Lien, Hanoi (Bun doc mung – pork noodle soup)
Admittedly, I was scared as we walked into this one, fearing some notorious cursing from the chef in charge (in the episode, she tells everyone to ‘go away’ after insulting them), but we quietly took our seats and let her helpers lead the way. I’m sure she made fun of us to the other customers, but the soup — made of broth, pork knuckles and snout — was delicious, flavorful, and as a bonus, you have to weave your way through a very local market to get there where you’ll find all sorts of seafood, vegetables, and meat, including BBQ’d dog.
#4 – Bun Cha Huong Lien – 24 Le Van Huu, Hanoi (Bun cha – pork meatball noodles)
This is the famed spot where Obama and Bourdain ate, and it will be quite obvious that you’re in the right place based on the plethora of posters touting his visit. I feel quite certain they picked this spot because of the size (I assume Obama’s level of security requires larger spaces), so while it was certainly not the best bun cha we had, it was good.
Bun Cha is basically a bowl of pork patty and pork belly soup accompanied by rice vermicelli which you mix together with herbs in a fish, sugar, and vinegar sauce. Almost like a deconstructed pork meatball noodle. This is a Vietnamese specialty I had never tried before coming here, and it is DELICIOUS. If you do want to check out Anthony Bourdain Vietnam Restaurant List, skip the “Obama special” — basically an upgrade with crab sprill rolls, which aren’t particularly good. Just go classic bun cha, with of course, a beer or … ice tea.
#5 – Bia Hai Xom (Beer) – 22 Tang Bat Ho, Hanoi
Basically, this place is for cheap beer. You can also order food here, but the main draw of places like this one is the price of the pints: about 50 cents. Prepare to see a lot of drunk Vietnamese people.
#6 Bún bò Huế at The Lunch Lady, Ho Chi Minh City
The famed Lunch Lady (23 Hoang Sa Street, Phuong Da Kao, District 1) is sequestered in an unassuming alleyway on the northern edge of District 1. Hoards of Vietnamese businessfolk and now, tourists, meet here around lunchtime. Snag a table close to the mobile kitchen where Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh hurriedly orchestrates the operation. Sitting at one of these tables affords the diner a theatrical performance complete with the sounds of cleavers pounding against wooden boards and men barking out orders, fanning worn out Vietnamese dong to relieve themselves of Ho Chi Minh’s oppressive heat.
The lunch lady’s Bún bò Huế (40,000 VND) is dark broth was riddled with a generous amount of delectables such as fatty pig trotter, slices of beef brisket, and a hefty log of cha lua, a type of Vietnamese sausage. Strong citrus notes come through from long-simmered stalks of lemongrass.
#7: True “Bun Bo Hue” – Bon Ha Market in Hue
While in Hue, Anthony Bourdain spent a great deal of time searching for the acclaimed Bun Bo Hue. This pork and beef bone soup is a local delicacy that originated in the area and consists of chili, shrimp paste and long noodles. True Bun Bo Hue will also contain congealed pork blood cubes which add incredible flavor.
Anthony Bourdain eventually found his bun bo Hue at Bon Ha Market, a highly recommended stop for local food. Bon Ha Market offers spectacular dishes beyond bun bo Hue, including banh khoai or the “Hue pancake.” These savory pancakes are pan fried with rice flour, water and sometimes coconut milk, and stuffed with slivers of pork, shrimp and bean sprouts.
No matter the dish you try, Bon Ha Market is a cultural and foodie experience not to be missed.
#8 Seafood – Thi Nhan Restaurant Hoi An
Famous for its local herbs, the charming UNESCO old town of Hoi An also boasts incredibly fresh seafood. Bourdain enjoyed the huge crabs at Thi Nhan Restaurant, while other travelers prefer Mango Mango for a bit more upscale experience.
For a true seafood experience, head out on a tour with a local Vietnamese fisherman and enjoy freshly caught seafood on board the boat.
Should you prefer to stray away from seafood, Hoi An is also well known for its Cau Lau noodle dish. Only found in Central Vietnam, Cau Lau is a rice noodle dish with thick noodles topped with bean sprouts, croutons, greens and roast pork.
To map out your very Anthony Bourdain Vietnam Restaurant List through Vietnam, here are other dishes you cannot miss:
- Bánh Xèo at Quán Bánh Xèo 46A
45 Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Bún bò Huế at The Lunch Lady
23 Hoang Sa Street, Phuong Da Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Bánh mì at Banh Mi Phuong
2B Phan Chau Trinh, Minh An, Hoi An
- Cao lầu at The Central Market
Food Hall, Tran Quy Cap, Minh An, Hoi An
- Bia Hơi at Bia Hơi Hải Xồm
86 Le Trong Tan, Khuong Mai, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi
- Bún chả at Bún chả Hương Liên
24 Le Van Huu, Pham Dinh Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
You also want to discover other Vietnamese Street food that is not in Anthony Bourdain’s Vietnam Restaurant List but incredibly awesome.