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Hẻm Gems: Golden Bún Bò Huế

Walking into this temple of bún bò Huế, I was surprised the lady recognized me from my last visit from quite a while back. Even with my attempt at growing a beard for no-shave November, god has blessed her with a good memory and some serious cooking skills.

The stall is located in a potential Hẻm Gem gold mine as it’s in an all day market. It’s a rough job, but I’ve taken it upon myself to investigate this fertile ground.

We had a chat with the proprietors to get some background on their eatery and found out that they’re not from Hue or anywhere in Central Vietnam. They hail from Northern Vietnam and migrated to Saigon over 20 years ago where they have been making the dish ever since. I guess provenance doesn’t really have an effect on the end result in this case.

The bowl of beefy goodness was just the way I remembered it – thick broth with little spicy oil droplets dotting the surface, big slices of tender beef, central Vietnamese chả cây, and the usual veggies throughout.

It is said a perfect bowl of bún bò Huế consists of broth, a golden oil slick over the top (usually golden or topaz color because yellow is said to be the royal color in Hue), giò (a big chunk of cow's leg, meat and tendon still attached to the bone), a slice of beef (a good slice will have both meat and tendon on it), bún, chả cây (think pork patties steamed in banana leaves), and chives and onions on top. Of course, you have your requisite rau on the side that includes bean sprouts, shredded banana flowers, spearmint and shredded water spinach.

The version with giò is considered to be the standard style of the dish, but I favor the sliced beef and chả cây, so I usually order the stripped down version sans giò.

The market in the area is interesting, and maybe, there will come a time when I can resist the temptation of my all-time favorite bún bò Huế and go scout around. Maybe.

To sum up:

Atmosphere : 4/5

Taste : 5/5

Friendliness : 6/5 - the woman recognized me even after even only speaking with her for a short time a long time ago.

Price : 3/5 - 40.000/bowl


Núm is a street food addict who has been eating his way through Saigon for 25 years.

Bún bò Huế

Vo Duy Ninh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District


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