Best “bún chả” in Hanoi Old Quarter

by Oanh Phạm

Bun Cha is a classic Vietnamese dish originating from Hanoi, the capital city. It’s a delicious and refreshing combination of grilled pork, rice noodles, and a flavorful dipping sauce. Bun Cha is one of the most favorite dish that locals usually eat in a day. Let’s dive into this “Bún Chả tour” with HanoiBylocals to explore where is the best place to try Bún Chả ? and find out what is “Bún Chả Obama” in Hanoi right now?


The origin of “Bún Chả”

The exact origins of Bun Cha are a bit murky, but most evidence points to it arising in Hanoi, Vietnam sometime in the early 20th century. The dish gained popularity due to its affordability, delicious combination of flavors, and the resourcefulness of Vietnamese cooks using ingredients like grilled pork and rice noodles to create a satisfying meal.

Bun Cha’s rise to prominence is also tied to Hanoi’s bustling street food culture. The first Bun Cha restaurant was documented in Hanoi’s Old Quarter in 1959, and the dish has been a beloved part of the city’s cuisine ever since. In fact, Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang described Hanoi in 1959 as being “transfixed by bun cha.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Bun Cha, you might enjoy visiting one of Hanoi’s many Bun Cha restaurants and trying it for yourself!

The ingredients of “Bún Chả”

For the grilled pork: ground pork, onion, grated, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, ground ginger, ground garlic, a cup vegetable oil.

For the dipping sauce: fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, water, red chili peppers, cloves garlic.

For the noodles:  rice vermicelli noodles, head lettuce, leaves, 1 bunch fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, and cilantro and 1 cucumber,1 carrot, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup bean sprouts.


Is “Bún Chả” healthy ?

Bún chả is a Vietnamese dish consisting of grilled pork served with rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and dipping sauce. Whether it is considered healthy depends on various factors such as portion size, ingredients used, and individual dietary preferences.

Grilled pork, which is a primary component of bún chả, can be high in protein but may also contain saturated fats depending on how it’s prepared. The noodles in bún chả are typically low in fat but are a source of carbohydrates. The fresh herbs and vegetables served with bún chả provide vitamins and minerals, contributing to its overall nutritional value.


How to eat “Bún Chả” ???

Eating bún chả is a delightful experience that involves a combination of flavors and textures. Here’s how to enjoy it properly:

  1. Mixing: Upon receiving your bowl of bún chả, you’ll typically find the grilled pork, rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs (such as mint, cilantro, and perilla), and vegetables arranged separately. Start by mixing everything together to evenly distribute the flavors.
  2. Using Chopsticks and Spoon: Use chopsticks to pick up the noodles, pork, and herbs, and then use a spoon to scoop up some of the dipping sauce. This allows you to get a balanced bite of noodles, pork, herbs, and sauce in each mouthful.
  3. Dipping: Dip each bite of grilled pork and noodles into the dipping sauce. The sauce adds a tangy, savory flavor that complements the grilled meat and noodles.
  4. Incorporating Herbs and Vegetables: Be sure to include plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables in each bite. They add freshness and crunch to the dish, enhancing the overall experience.
  5. Enjoying Slowly: Take your time to savor each bite of bún chả. Appreciate the combination of flavors and textures as you enjoy the meal.
  6. Pairing: Bún chả is often served with a side of pickled vegetables or a light salad. These can be enjoyed alongside the main dish to add more variety to your meal.
  7. Refreshing: Since bún chả is often served with fresh herbs and vegetables, it can have a cooling effect on the palate, making it a refreshing choice, especially on hot days.

Remember that there’s no strict rule on how to eat bún chả, so feel free to adjust the experience based on your personal preferences. The key is to enjoy the flavors and textures that this delicious Vietnamese dish has to offer.


Bun Cha Obama: The Story, The Restaurant, and The Fame

Bun Cha Obama isn’t a separate dish, but rather a nickname for a popular Bun Cha restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam called Bun Cha Huong Lien. Here’s the story behind the nickname and all the information you need:

The Story Behind the Name:

  • In May 2016, during a visit to Vietnam, former US President Barack Obama enjoyed Bun Cha with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain at Bun Cha Huong Lien.
  • The visit was filmed for the TV show “Parts Unknown” and gained significant media attention.
  • Photos of Obama and Bourdain eating Bun Cha went viral, skyrocketing the restaurant’s fame.
  • As a result, Bun Cha Huong Lien became widely known as “Bun Cha Obama,” particularly among tourists.

Location and Information:

  • Address: 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Hà Nội, Việt Nam (Hanoi, Vietnam) (Map)
  • Price Range: Moderate (Around ₫60,000 – ₫100,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM (seven days a week)

Why it’s Famous:

  • The Obama Effect: The high-profile visit by a former US President put Bun Cha Huong Lien on the map and significantly boosted its popularity, especially with international tourists.
  • Traditional Bun Cha: The restaurant serves classic Bun Cha Hanoi, featuring grilled pork patties, rice noodles, dipping sauce, and fresh herbs.
  • Media Attention: The “Parts Unknown” episode featuring Obama’s visit generated a lot of buzz and media coverage, drawing attention to Bun Cha Huong Lien and Bun Cha in general.

So, while Bun Cha Obama isn’t a unique dish, it’s a nickname signifying a key moment that brought international attention to this traditional Vietnamese dish and a specific restaurant in Hanoi.


Some well-known Bun Cha spots in Hanoi Old QuarterTop of Form

1. Ô Quán Chả (46 Nguyễn Hữu Huân)

This restaurant is known for its traditional Bun Cha Hanoi. They use a special recipe for the dipping sauce that is said to be the secret to their delicious dish. They also offer a variety of other Vietnamese dishes on their menu.

  • Address: 46 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hà Nội, Việt Nam (Map)
  • Price Range: Moderate (Around ₫80,000 – ₫100,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM

2. Bún Chả 41 Cửa Đông (41 Cửa Đông)

This restaurant is another popular spot for Bun Cha Hanoi. They use a charcoal grill to cook their pork, which gives it a smoky flavor. They also offer a variety of other grilled meats on their menu.

  • Address: 41 Cửa Đông, Hà Nội, Việt Nam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫50,000 – ₫80,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 10:30 AM – 9:00 PM

3. Bún Chả Đắc Kim (1 Hàng Mành)

This restaurant is said to be one of the oldest Bun Cha restaurants in Hanoi. They have been serving this dish for over 50 years. Their Bun Cha is made with a special broth that is said to be very flavorful.

  • Address: 1 Hàng Mành, Hà Nội, Việt Nam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫40,000 – ₫70,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM

4. Bún Chả Ta Hanoi (21 Nguyễn Hữu Huân)

This restaurant offers a modern take on Bun Cha Hanoi. Their restaurant is clean and spacious, and their Bun Cha is made with high-quality ingredients. They also have a variety of vegetarian and vegan options available.

  • Address: 21 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hà Nội, Việt Nam (Map)
  • Price Range: Moderate (Around ₫60,000 – ₫100,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM

5. Bun Cha Hang Quat (74 Hang Quat)

This tiny eatery is a favorite among locals, known for its traditional and no-frills approach to Bun Cha. They serve the dish with a delicious dipping sauce and a side of fresh herbs and vegetables.

  • Address: 74 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫30,000 – ₫50,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM (closed on Wednesdays)

6. Bun Cha Tuyet (34 Hang Than)

This restaurant is another great option for budget-friendly Bun Cha. They serve the dish with a generous portion of grilled pork and a flavorful dipping sauce.

  • Address: 34 Hang Than, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫35,000 – ₫60,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM

7. Nem Chua Thanh Van (32 Hang Dieu)

This restaurant is known more for its specialty, Nem Chua (fermented pork spring rolls), but they also serve a delicious Bun Cha Hanoi. Their Bun Cha is said to have a unique and flavorful broth, perfect for those who prefer a stronger taste.

  • Address: 32 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫30,000 – ₫50,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM (closed on Tuesdays)

8. Bún Chả Ninh Hiệp (8 Hang Ca)

This small eatery focuses on Bun Cha Ninh Hiep, a regional variation from Ninh Hiệp village known for its minced pork patties and a slightly sweeter dipping sauce. It offers a slightly different Bun Cha experience compared to the classic Hanoi style.

  • Address: 8 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫30,000 – ₫50,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

9. Bún Chả 29 Hang Bong (29 Hang Bong)

This hidden gem serves a classic Bun Cha Hanoi in a cozy setting. They are known for their use of fresh herbs and high-quality ingredients.

  • Address: 29 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (Map)
  • Price Range: Budget-friendly (Around ₫40,000 – ₫60,000 per person)
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Things to Consider

  • These are just a few of the many Bun Cha restaurants in Hanoi Old Quarter. There are many other great options to choose from.
  • The price range listed is an estimate and may vary depending on what you order.
  • Be sure to check the opening and closing hours before you go, as they may vary depending on the day of the week.
  • When choosing a Bun Cha restaurant, it is also a good idea to consider the reviews from other diners.


Oanh Phạm

Written by Oanh Phạm