Bittet Ong Loi

Hardly healthy but great!

What we say: 3.5 stars

It’s been a favourite of mine since I first came to Hanoi, so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to write about bo bittet. It’s true that I don’t eat it too often — it’s hardly the healthiest of options — but having had a recent relapse at the weekend I was reminded just how good it is.

Is rain coming...

Is rain coming ...

The essential components are: a thin beef steak, chunky chips (fries), eggs, pate, something green (usually chives or spring onions) and a chunk of bread. Sometimes it comes with a gravy too. The steak is sizzled in an iron dish — usually cow shaped — and topped with pate, chips and greens, and then an egg is cracked into the dish to cook away at your table. Some places will serve it up with a lid on top, which helps avoid hot fat spraying over your clean shorts, while others will leave it to fate; so make sure you sit back a bit.

A safer option

... or to be sure not, a safer option.

Once the egg — or eggs if you’re lucky — is cooked to your satisfaction, tear up the bread and dip in or make up an egg / chip / pate and steak sandwich. The choice is yours. Good accompaniments are fresh chilli and soy sauce, which goes particularly well with the eggs.

Don’t get led astray by the versions available at many of the more generalist Vietnamese restaurants around town, particularly along “Food Street”: if the restaurant isn’t proudly announcing “bo bittet” then it’s unlikely to be a good one. I’ve had some which are just steak and chips, and these are always a disappointment.

Alleyway to heaven

Alley to heaven.

A couple of places worth trying in Old Quarter are Bittet Ong Loi at 51 Hang Buom, and the place at the bottom of Dinh Liet (on the right as you’re facing in the direction of the lake). If you’re out in Ba Dinh near the Daewoo Hotel, then Ngoc Hieu, on the corner of Doi Can and Van Cao streets, is a great spot though a bit pricier than the other options.

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51 Hang Buom
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