Hue’s cuisine has been famous for not only in Vietnam but also on the worldwide. Once you visit Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam, do not miss opportunities to taste local foods in Hue. In the past, Hue’s food was imbued by royal’s style in term of processing methods, decorations, eating styles, beverage types and the most important is the food entertainment of local people here. By the time, Hue’s cuisine has been changed slightly by the affect of other cultural customs from other communities immigrated to Hue. However, the top local foods below still bear the most typical and special flavors of Hue that you should try at least one time you have been there.
Not only tourists but also the Hueans often say that Nem Lui is one of typical Hue’s specialties. Nem Lui is so much delicious and popular that if you come to Nguyen Hue street (where located the two most famous restaurants serving Nem Lui) you would see that these restaurants are always over-crowed despite daytime or nighttime.
Nem Lui is made from finely ground beef and pork, plus shredded pork skin and fat, garlic, sugar and fish sauce then shaped into sausages around stalks of lemon grass, grilled over charcoal until its flavors spread all over. To eat Nem Lui, you need a half-moons (banh trang) of rice paper, put Nem Lui on it, add a slice of pineapple, cucumber, Trai Va, carrot, cold rice vermicelli and herb. Then you wrap the rice paper and dip it into special sauce (made from peanuts, butter, sesame, shrimp paste, shallot) and enjoy your delicious dish.
Bun Bo Hue
Bun Bo Hue (Hue style beef vermicelli) is a great choice for breakfast. Bun Bo Hue is famous in Hue like Phở in Hanoi. It has the unique broth made from simmering beef and bones for a long period of time, plus with different secret spices like lemon grass and chili, shrimp paste etc. A bowl of Bun Bo Hue often has thin slices of beef shank, chunks of boiled oxtail, pig’s knuckles or pork, cubes of maroon brown congealed pig blood, which are good for those suffering from high blood pressure. Do not forget to have this delicious dish with plenty of herbs like sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, onions, and sliced banana blossom. And, if you like to eat Bun Bo Hue exactly like the way of Huean gourmets, let’s try to add a few of shrimp paste directly into the bowl to enjoy its special fragrance. Join with us on Hue street food tour or our cooking class to learn to cook Bun Bo Hue and take the secret recipe home.
Com Hen (rice with mussel) is a very unique local cuisine of Hue. You can find Com Hen in Hanoi restaurants like Net Hue or Mon Hue restaurants but its flavor may be altered slightly to suit with the Hanoian taste. A perfect Com Hen will have rice, boiled mussel, star fruit, fish sauce, cabbage, onion, pepper, peanut, chili, and a variety of herbs. And more important, all of these elements are cold. When you start to eat Com Hen, you will need to add all the above ingredients to a bowl, and then slowly add boiled mussel broth with chili sauce into the bowl. Com Hen has an extremely spicy flavor that many tourists can recognize its taste only after one time of enjoying.
It is quite stunning to distinguish Banh Khoai (Hue’s delicious pancake) and Banh xeo (Saigon’s sizzling pancake) since they both are made from rice flour, water, turmeric powder, added slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and then pan fried. However, Banh Khoai is placed open-face instead of being folded in half like Banh xeo. Moreover, Banh khoai always goes with a fermented soy bean sauce, and people consider it a winter food owing to its greasiness and spicy taste of the sauce. Therefore, most Hue citizens only make them when winter coming. Let’s try this dish if you travel to Hue in winter time.
Mam Tom chua
Mam Tom Chua (sour shrimp sauce) is famous local dish of Hue in the central region of Vietnam but Hue is the best place for this unique sauce. Unlike normal shrimp sauce (has brown color and smooth surface), Mam Tom Chua has orange color while shrimps still keep its original shape. To make Mam Tom Chua, they use salt water to wash the shrimp, and then dim it into strong rice wine. The shrimps will turn red. After that, shrimps are carefully mixed with sticky rice, sliced lesser galangal, garlic and chili. Finally, the mixture is put into a jar covered by guava leaves. After 5 – 7 days, the mixture will be ripen as the shrimp will be very chilly and sour, but when served with boiled pork with vermicelli, Mam Tom Chua really brings you a new level of cuisine entertainment.
Com Chay Hue (Vegetarian meal)
If you are vegetarian tourists and expect for vegetarian meal to purify your body, let try the Com Chay Hue. There are many types of vegetarian dishes for you to choose from vegetables, bulb, mushroom, soya, etc. Although you can easily find a restaurant serving vegetarian meal in Hue but it is advisable to arrive at Tu Dam Pagoda right in the center of Hue city to enjoy delicious vegetarian meal cooked by female bronzes here.
Banh Beo has shape and name like the water fern Beo in Vietnam, and a kind of small steamed rice pancake. Banh Beo is served separately in cute and small bowls. Its color is normally white and sometimes nearly transparent with a dimple in the center. If you have sharp eyes, you will find out tiny things on the Banh Beo: chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil on it. And to start this delicious Hue food, you only need to pour fish sauce on it then enjoy!
Bun Thit Nuong
If you intend to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, let’s stop at Kim Long Street to taste the famous local Bun Thit Nuong there. The special feature of this specialty is its grilled meat. The meat is soaked in secret spices then grilled enough that still is soft with not much sweet flavor and make it completely impressive. Some tourists may be confused at first taste because the Bun Thit Nuong is quite the same as Bun Cha in Hanoi. However the special sauce (often mixed with soybean and liver paste) and special herbs served in Hue make this dish unique and spicier than Bun Cha in Hanoi.