Not only famous with a rich history or its charming beauty, Hue is home to several distinctive dishes – from delicate creations created to please the appetites of Nguyen feudal lords, emperors to sausages with complex, explosive and satisfying flavors. Here are the dishes that you have try once and will eat again and again:
1.Cơm Hến (Rice with mussel)
Cơm Hến is a very unique cuisine of Hue. The dish is a mixture of colors, tastes and ingredients containing rice, boiled mussel, star fruit, fish sauce, cabbage, onion, pepper, peanut, chili, and a variety of herbs. All of elements are cold, but when you eat Com Hen, you have to add all the above ingredients to a bowl and add hot boiled mussel broth with a type of sauce of Hue. The only hot thing in Com Hen is the broth.
2.Bún Bò Huế (Hue style beef vermicelli)
“Pho” is considered as a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine, but there is not only one type of noodle soup in Vietnam. With the same of main ingredients and the equally delicious, but very different from Pho, the dish “Bun Bo Hue” which features round rice noodles, as opposed to pho’s flat ones, mixed into a stock of broth made from beef and/or pork bones, flavored with lemongrass, annatto seeds, ginger, fermented shrimp paste, sugar and chili. Hue people usually add thin slices of beef shank, chunks of boiled oxtail and pig’s knuckles or pork into the bowl. It is served with a plenty of herbs like sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, onions, and sliced banana blossom.
3.Bánh Bèo (Water fern cake)
It is a kind of small and white steamed rice pancake. Its name is to refer from the shape of the cake – like a water fern. In the center of cake, it usually has a dimple which is covered with savory recipes including chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, rice vinegar, and oil. When you eat, you will have to add fish sauce to increase its flavor.
4.Bánh khoái (Delicious pancake)
So much like Banh Xeo (sizzling pancake) because they both are made from rice flour, water, turmeric powder, added slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and then pan fried. Banh khoai and Banh xeo also are wrapped in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice paper and stuffed with variety of herb, like mint leaves, basil and served with a sweet and sour mixed sauce. Instead of being folded in half like Banh xeo, in Hue, Banh khoai is placed open-face. Moreover, Banh khoai always goes with a fermented soy bean sauce and people often enjoy it as a winter food because of its greasiness and spicy taste of the sauce.
5.Bánh lọc trần
Banh loc tran is stuffed with shrimp and pork, then boiled rather than steamed. It is served under a dense layer of green herb and crispy fried shallots. When eating, like “banh beo”, you have to add sweet fish sauce.
6.Bánh lọc gói
Differ from “banh loc tran”, the dish “banh loc goi” has less portion of shrimp and pork. It is a a typical Hue snack. In this version, the dumpling is wrapped and tied in lightly oiled banana leaves and the packets are tied together in pairs, using banana leaf strips and steamed. Enjoying, you have to open the parcel, remove the cake to a plate and spoon over some special fish sauce which is a combination of fish sauce, vinegar, shrimp stock, sugar, water and fresh chilli.
7.Trai Va Salad
Hue is home to a particular green fig, called “Trai va” (trái vả in Vietnamese) which is not grown in any other regions. It has a lightly sweet flavor and a pronounced astringent quality that makes it an excellent foil for fatty meats and spicy dips. The fruit is boiled to soften it, then peeled, thinly sliced and served on the garnish plate for nem lui, or as a component of a salad, to be dressed with Hue hoisin sauce or a dab of salty fermented shrimp paste.
Some recommendations for you:
- Gio Que restaurant, which backs up to a rice paddy on Thanh Duong Street in Thanh Thuy Chanh village, serves just such a salad.
- Bánh O Le (104/17/9 Kim Long Street) just outside the city center, that specializes in banh, the name for the various steamed and fried savory cakes endemic to Hue.