Today: 21/09/2023 18:57:32 (GMT+7)

Hanoi's hidden bun cha crowded for 25 years

For 25 years, a bun cha eatery in a small alley on Hang Quat Street has been serving lunch to hundreds every day.

Tucked away in a deep, narrow alley at 74 Hang Quat Street, in the heart of the Old Quarter, this bun cha (grilled pork with vermicelli) eatery might easily go unnoticed if it weren't for a modest sign at the entrance.

Hanoi, hidden bun cha, 25 years,  Hang Quat Street, frying spring rolls, pickled carrots and papaya, popular spot

The meatballs are approximately 3 cm in diameter. Achieving a slight char on the meat is necessary for it to be considered delicious.

The shop serves authentic Hanoi flavors from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Despite its limited space, the restaurant sees a constant flow of diners, forming long queues that extend from one end of the alley to the other. The popularity of this eatery can be attributed to its traditional Hanoian vibe.

This place spans a narrow alley, approximately 1 meter wide and 30 meters deep. At the entrance, you'll find the cooking area with a table of ingredients, a barbecue grill, a section dedicated to frying spring rolls, and a small iced tea shop.

Diners can park their vehicles on the other side of the road. The dining tables for guests are arranged both inside the house, and in the small courtyard at the end of the alley. Each member of the staff has their assigned role in the preparation process, whether it's grilling the meat, assembling the ingredients, or refilling the dipping sauce.

According to owner Dao Thi Mai Lan (pictured), the restaurant prepares hundreds of servings each day, from the morning until the food runs out. Leftovers are rare, and those who arrive late often have to leave empty-handed.

The day begins at 7 a.m with the preparation of herbs, dipping sauce, grilled meat, and spring rolls. The cook grills the meat over a charcoal stove in the morning, and then grills it again when it's time to serve it to guests.

The soul of the dish lies in the cha, or grilled meat. There are two types of cha available: grilled slices and meatballs. They are both made from a combination of lean and fatty pork. Lan ensures that only fresh meat is used, resulting in tender and fragrant grilled cha.

Grilling plays a crucial role in perfecting the dish. The restaurant uses a charcoal stove, requiring the cook’s focused attention. With one hand constantly flipping the grill to prevent burning, and the other hand fanning the fire, the griller adjusts the flame evenly to achieve the ideal temperature. The sizzling fat oozes out a fine aroma as the meat is cooked.

The dipping sauce is a blend of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water. This mixture results in a delightful sweet and sour taste. The dipping sauce also contains crunchy pickled carrots and papaya. Diners have the option of enhancing their meal by adding minced garlic and chili. The vermicelli is handmade, ensuring its firm texture, while the herb mixture contains lettuce, Vietnamese perilla, and bean sprouts.

Hanoi, hidden bun cha, 25 years,  Hang Quat Street, frying spring rolls, pickled carrots and papaya, popular spot

An order of bun cha includes vermicelli, cha, dipping sauce, and herbs.

An order of bun cha includes vermicelli, cha, dipping sauce, and herbs ranging from VND45,000 to VND50,000 ($1.92 to $2.13). The prices have remained unchanged over the years, which is one of the reasons for the shop's loyal customer base.

The dining area, situated at the end of the alley, accommodates a large number of guests. The eatery has over 10 indoor and outdoor tables, always in a bustling state. Diners can also choose to sit in the adjacent café, although they will probably have to order beverages. This popular spot attracts not only locals but also foreigners.

Despite the modest, somewhat cramped, and old-fashioned ambiance of this place, diners find it charming and comfortable. Although the shop is often crowded, it still efficiently manages to provide fast and enthusiastic service.

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Source: VnExpress

Hanoi, hidden bun cha, 25 years, Hang Quat Street, frying spring rolls, pickled carrots and papaya, popular spot
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