Towering pagodas, expansive tombs, lush green mountains and world-class cuisine – this is what to expect in Hue. Located two hours from the bustling Da Nang city, this relaxed little town is rich with history and packed with delectable dishes to indulge in.
History of Hue Food
Set on the picturesque banks of the Perfume River, Hue was once home to Vietnam’s elite ruling class. The ancient feudal capital is filled with ornate royal palaces and expansive tomb complexes, though this impressive architecture was not the only draw to the city.
It comes as no surprise that the royal family only accepted the nations best cuisine. Classically and extensively trained, chefs designed menus full of the most exquisite food in the nation. Thus, Hue food was born. In a league all its own, the dishes that were born in Hue are thought by many as the best in the country. Here are six of the best Huế foods, and where to find them.
Bun bo Hue (Hue-style Beef and Pork Noodles Soup in Spicy Lemongrass Broth)
One of the most recognized Hue meals around the country, bún bò Huế is the city’s namesake. Born from the tastes of past rulers, this noodle soup is historically made the same as when cooks whipped up bowls in royal courts.
A bowl of bouncy bún noodles is filled with a vibrant, beefy, lemongrass broth made from various meats and congealed pig blood. To top off the hearty bowl, fresh onions, herbs and a splash of lime are added. Stalls specialising in this dish can be found across the city, but for the best bowl, we recommend going to Đông BaMarket or Bà Phụng.
TIP: Some of the tastiest Huế food can be found at the local market or street stalls, but sometimes can be difficult to find. We recommend if you are short on time, head over to Spice Viet. This delicious farm-to-table concept eatery serves all the Hue food favourites, in one location.
Banh beo (Rice-based cake or Water fern cake)
Another royal dish which comes from Hue is the bite-sized banh beo cake. Banh beo, which literally translates to ‘water fern cake,’ though, this name doesn’t have much to do with the ingredients of the dish. These mini circular cakes aren’t made from water fern but instead, are made from a mix of rice flour and tapioca.
The gelatinous mixture is dished into small shallow cups which are then steamed. Once cooked, each one is topped with shrimp, crispy pork belly, scallion oil, fish sauce and green onion. Grab a bite of this tasty dish at Banh beo Huong or test your hand at making it yourself at InnSideOut Cooking School.
Banh khoai (Vietnamese Crepe)
The fresh and savoury Hue snack of banh khoai is a favourite among central residents. It’s turmeric yellow colour and pancake appearance make it easily mistakable for its southern relative of banh xeo. Though not completely different, banh khoai has some distinct differences.
Made from a blend of rice flour, turmeric and secret spices, the base is cooked in a pan — much like a pancake. This dense batter has a thicker cooked consistency than the batter of banh xeo, making for a fuller, more crunchie bite. Just before the pancake is fully cooked, grilled pork and cooked shrimps are added. The folded cake is then topped with crisp fresh veggies and herbs. Give it a try at, banh khoai Thu Suong, 86 Kim Long Street, Hue.
Tip: In Hue some of the main flavours are spice and salt. Fresh chillies and fragrant fish sauce can be found in many meals here.
Bun thit nuong (Vermicelli Noodles With Grilled Pork)
This tasty noodle salad is a street food favourite around the country but the locals in Hue elevate it to a new level. While in more southern cities bun thit nuong has a sweeter flavour, here in Hue there is a perfect balance of salty and savoury which give the dish great dimension.
Traditional rice vermicelli bun noodles are layered with fresh veggies, herbs and salad, then are topped with green mango, pickled papaya, grilled pork and spring rolls. The best thing about bun thit nuong – this jam-packed bowl won’t set you back more than 20K- 30K. Pay a visit to Huyen Anh for this tasty lunch.
Banh bot loc (Tapioca Dumplings)
This sophisticated jelly snack is yet another of the historically elevated Hue dishes. Known for it’s simple presentation, yet complex flavour and texture – banh bot loc is made from tapioca and is filled with shrimp and roasted pork belly. It is commonly steamed in a banana leaf giving it an extra infusion of earthy flavour. Try a taste of this speciality at Spice Viet located in the centre of Hue.
Nem lui (Char-Grilled Pork Patties On Lemongrass Stick)
Finishing out this round up of the tastiest Hue dishes is nem lui. This quintessential Hue flavour is so much more than just simple barbequed pork skewers, which it may look like at first glance. Fresh ground pork mixed with spices is packed on to a stick of lemongrass, then is barbequed.
The charcoaled meat is then served with fresh herbs, rice paper and a special peanut sauce. Wrap it all up for a one of a kind roll. Its unique presentation has captivated the hearts of locals and travellers alike.
TIP: Make sure to watch how the locals dish out these noodles, cakes and wraps. Take note of the sauces and don’t be afraid to tuck into them. What makes many of these meals unique is the way they are spooned, rolled or mixed.
Full of history and jam-packed with flavour, Hue is a must-visit for prospective Vietnam travellers. Spend your days witnessing the incredible architecture, peaceful tombs and astounding natural beauty Hue has to offer!