These unadulterated treats pack a flavorful punch in Viet Nam’s former capital.
1. Mussels with rice/noodles
This specialty can be found across the spectrum of restaurants Hue has to offer. A bowl of mussels with rice (you can also choose vermicelli or noodles as an alternative) includes raw vegetables and stir-fried mussels, topped with roasted peanuts and deep-fried pork skin. It is served with either fish sauce or shrimp paste.
Suggested addresses: The food area at the foot of Trang Tien Bridge, Ba Hoa Restaurant at 11A Truong Dinh Street, a nameless restaurant on Tran Phu Street, or on Hen (mussel) Islet in Vi Da Ward.
2. Hue beef noodles
If you are not a fan of spicy food, be prepared before tasting bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodles). Unlike bun bo Hue served in Sai Gon and Ha Noi, the original version in Hue packs a punch.
Suggested addresses: O Kim Chu Diep Restaurant at 6 Tran Thuc Nhan Street, Cam Restaurant at 38 Tran Cao Van Street, Ong Vong Restaurant at 5 Nguyen Du Street, Ba Tuyet Restaurant at 47 Nguyen Cong Tru Street.
3. Nam Pho crab noodles
Banh canh Nam Pho, or Nam Pho crab noodles, are not as popular as mussels or beef noodles, but are still an unmissable treat born in Nam Pho Village. The best crab noodles can be found in several restaurants on Pham Hong Thai Street.
4. Grilled corn
A stall selling grilled corn in front of Hue University of Education at 34 Le Loi Street is frequented by those who have a taste for street food in the central city. The corn is grilled on site and covered in a layer of sauce when you make your order. Take a seat on the sidewalk stools and dig in.
5. Banh beo (steamed rice cake)
Banh beo, which literally means “water fern cake” due to its shape, is a small steamed rice cake. Rice flour is poured into tiny plates before they are steamed. When served, the cakes are topped with shrimp powder, stir-fried onion and deep-fried pork skin. Enjoy the soft white cake with fish sauce.
6. Banh ram it (fried dumpling)
Made from sticky rice, this cake is unique thanks to its steamed sticky goodness and crunchy deep-fried layer. The steamed part is like a dumpling with pork, shrimp and mushroom. Like banh beo, this cake is also topped with shrimp powder and stir-fried onion, and served with fish sauce.
Suggested addresses for banh beo and banh ram it: restaurants along Pham Hong Thai Street, O Som Restaurant that stands on the opposite side of No.4, Hai Trieu Street, Di Sinh at 82 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ong Do Restaurant at 1C Nguyen Binh Khiem Street.
7. Banh bot loc (tapioca dumpling)
This cake is a chewy dumpling made from tapioca flour and filled with pork and shrimp. The cake is covered in banana leaves and steamed before being served hot with fish sauce.
Suggested addresses: restaurants along Vo Thi Sau, Le Thanh Ton, Pham Hong Thai, Truong Dinh and Nguyen Hue, or street vendors near Trang Tien Bridge.
8. Che (sweet soup) in alleys
After testing your tastebuds with all of the above, treat yourselves to dessert. Shops selling che in small alleys can be found all over Hue, and you can have the soup served hot or cold. Beans, corn, sweet potato and peanuts are what to look out for.