Bo nuong at 47 Ma May

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What we say: 4 stars

Bo nuong — barbecue beef. Just the name of it makes my mouth water. Imagine this: slivers of tender beef griddled in a pan in front of your eyes, then dipped in a tasty sauce and eaten with bread, chips or both. With veggies or greens on the side, of course.

A sign to get the tastebuds watering

A sign to get the tastebuds watering.

Our favourite spot for bo nuong is 47 Ma May. Among all of Hanoi’s restaurants, it’s one of our “take the visitors there” spots and has never failed to disappoint. It’s not just the tasty food that keeps us going back but the experience. For many of you, sitting on plastic stools in a, let’s face it, grotty restaurant, trying to avoid being splattered with hot fat, might not sound too desirable. But trust me, 47 Ma May is one of those places you’ll remember. And that’s what makes an experience right?

It’s packed every evening, with both locals and visitors. Aim for a table outside on the pavement as there’s a bit more going on, and to be honest it’s cleaner. Or you can head upstairs to enjoy the distressed décor, a bit more space and a fan.

The menu is simple: choose from either the beef meat or the goats’ udders (or a combination) – no I’ve never tried the udders – and the size you want, based on number of people, then order any extras such as bread or chips. Note that a tub of margarine is charged as extra – just use the free oil if you’re watching your budget.

You’ll get a small bowl containing salt, chilli and half a lime – squeeze the lime into the bowl and stir to make a dipping sauce – and shortly your server will bring a plate piled high with beef, onions, aubergine and tomato. They’ll heat up the pan and leave you to it. If the flame dies, just give them a call.

A meal, with bread and beer, usually comes in at well under 100,000 VND per person: not bad value for a good feed in Hanoi.

47 Ma May is, of course, by no means the only place you can get bo nuong. A few places are along the same stretch of road or just keep your eyes peeled for signs. The set up may differ slightly – some will be served with herbs – but it’s all good.

Contact details
47 Ma May, Hoan Kiem District
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