Photo: Classic Vietnamese fare.

Eat and meet

Travellers visit Hue to explore the tombs and the Imperial Citadel, but they stay for the food. It really is as simple as that.


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You’ll find western food and bars clustered in the area around Vo Thi Sau and Chu Van An, in the heart of the city’s foreign tourist scene—we’re not concentrating on them here as the Vietnamese food in Hue is just that good. That said, if you’re looking for a nosh up French meal in a beautiful villa, consider Les Jardins De La Carambole in the Old City, while for modern grazing in a sociable atmosphere Nook Cafe is also good. For Italian, consider Zucca.

Time to get started. At Ba Tung.

Time to get started. At Ba Tung. Photo: Stuart McDonald

While eating our way through the city we were accompanied by Sy Trann, an English-speaking Hue native—if you’re looking for a handy guide for all things food, drop her a line of Facebook.

If you’re wandering the old city and are looking for a venue to escape the midday heat, Anh Vu Cafe does a range of coffee and alcoholic drinks along with delicious icy fruit shakes (20,000 dong) in a shady courtyard garden. Light meals are also available. It is a five minute walk to the east of the History Museum.

No shortage of this in Hue.

No shortage of this in Hue. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Another good spot for a coffee, especially if you are staying in one of the Old City homestays, is a place simply called (as far as we could tell) Coffee. It’s a modern style Vietnamese cafe with good coffee (20,000 dong), and the setting is convenient and comfortable for Old City explorations. You’ll find it midway along the southwest side of the Imperial City.

If you’d prefer something more local, super shady Kore Cafe sits on the bank of the Nhu Y River and serves up steaming Vietnamese coffee (10,000 dong) in an atmosphere prone to lazing half the day away. Follow the laneway marked for Hue Riverside Villas and the cafe is just before it. Recommended.

Waiting by the river (in vain) for the crowds to thin at Bun Bo Me Keo.

Waiting by the river (in vain) for the crowds to thin at Bun Bo Me Keo. Photo: Stuart McDonald

More local still, was a street side, red plastic stool coffee stall we tried at the corner of Le Loi and Ba Huyen Thanh Quan. This iced coffee was one of the strongest we had in Hue.

One last tip before we get on to the food, all along the north bank of the Perfume River, especially further west on Kim Long, you’ll see sugar cane vendors selling iced sugarcane over ice in the shade of the trees. Pure refreshment. They often have beer too.

What more do you need? Red chair joint at the corner with Le Loi.

What more do you need? Red chair joint at the corner with Le Loi. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Hue is well famous for bun bo hue and one of our favourites within easy walking distance of the tourist part of town is Ba Tung. Down and dirty street-food style, Ba Tung is easy to spot thanks to the aqua green paint job on the walls and the teeming trade. Very friendly staff work out front with bowls (30,000 dong) aplenty already loaded with fresh noodles waiting for clientele. Make your order and then grab a plastic stool inside.

Another of our favourites in the bun bo hue department is Bun Hanh, down a small alley near the stadium. This is a morning only place and it pays to get here early to be sure of getting a plastic stool. Bowls are priced according to size (20,000 to 30,000 dong) and take our word for it, the big bowl is big. Look for the stacks of bowls laden with noodles in the side alley, as it isn’t well signposted.

Cooking with a smile at Bun Hanh.

Cooking with a smile at Bun Hanh. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Bun Bo Me Keo was repeatedly recommended to us as being the best place in Hue for bun bo hue, but despite repeated attempts it was invariably jammed every time we visited and when we tried again later in the morning, hoping the crowds would have dispersed, they had already run out. If you are determined to wait for a table, cool your heels under the shady trees across the road—good coffee! On the other hand if you give up, Pho Tuan is just up the road and is reasonable at a pinch.

Banh Ep is best described as a kind of Vietnamese pancake. Comprised of a thin plate of tapioca, the pancake is filled with slithers of pork, fresh herbs and vegetables and then popped into the mouth. We found a bunch on a lane (Hem 103) running between Nhat Le and Ho Tinh Tam, so in the heart of the old city, and, well we felt not only did we wake the guy up to make us some, but that we were eating them in his living room.

No need for a black tie when eating <em>banh ep</em>.

No need for a black tie when eating banh ep. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Dong Ba Market can be a good place to point and pick across a range of dishes. We had a decent bun bo hue here, but do be careful to check the prices before you order anything, and when extra plates of other snacks start coming, be clear what you do and don’t want to eat—just to avoid misunderstandings at the end of the meal.

Like bun bo hue, bun thit nuong is another great dish to sample in Hue, and easily our fave was Nem Lui Ba Ty at the northern end of Dao Duy Tu near the Dong Ba River, to the northeast of the Imperial City. Go for the bowl (25,000 dong), but also allow time to linger along the street, which has a bunch of lovely old homes on it—making it a favourite with canoodling couples looking for an Instragramworthy moment.

What it says on the can. At the huge huge blue banner joint on Kim Long.

What it says on the can. At the huge huge blue banner joint on Kim Long. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Making our way back on foot from Thien Mu Pagoda one afternoon, we found ourselves at a streetside place with a huge blue banner announcing Bun Bo Hue Banh Uot Thai Nuong. Our dish (20,000 dong) was fresh spring rolls stuffed with grilled beef and lashings of herbs, dipped in a chilli sauce and it was the bomb. Friendly and cheap, this is a good spot to break the walk back into town. You’ll find it on Kim Long, a bit to the west of the far more famous Huyen Anh—look for the red plastic chairs and the big blue banner.

Huyen Anh is deservedly popular (even if some bun thit nuong aficionados turned their noses up at the prices). Set in a proper, and very clean, restaurant, this is a good choice for those who are a little uncomfortable on a plastic stool on the pavement—and the bowl of bun thit nuong (22,000 dong) was delicious. As with the streetside place mentioned above, this is a good option if walking or cycling back from Thien Mu Pagoda.

Throwdowns at Hang Me.

Throwdowns at Hang Me. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Another, more central (and far more popular) spot for this type of fare is Hang Me, in the heart of the tourist zone. An English menu, with cute explanations and photos may lower expectations, but it does make it easier if you are new to the dishes, and we found them to be pretty good, if a bit pricey (40,000 to 50,000 dong per dish).

On another wander, following the canal that runs roughly east west below Ben Ngu market, we plonked down for a bowl (15,000 dong) at a small Bun Hen street stall on Hai Ba Trung. The entire stall was little more than a plastic table out front where the magic happened and a few tables behind. Is it worth trekking across town for? Probably not, but it is a good indicator that throwing yourself down at almost any random food stall in Hue will rarely deliver a dud experience.

Distracted by a <em>bun hen</em> street stall.

Distracted by a bun hen street stall. Photo: Stuart McDonald

As we’ll try anything once, we don’t qualify as vegetarians, but when we asked around Lien Hoa was the most frequently recommended. To be honest, it wasn’t out best meal in the city, but perhaps we just ordered the wrong dish. You’ll find it near the stadium on Le Quy Don. Dishes swing around in the 20,000 to 50,000 dong mark.

If you are the exact opposite of a vegetarian, Dung Ngo is a pure pork apocalypse offering enormous and extremely good servings of pork across a range of Vietnamese dishes including banh uot, banh cuon and bun mam. Prices range from 25,000 to 50,000 dong. Recommended.

Pork anyone? At Dung Ngo.

Pork anyone? At Dung Ngo. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The stomach torpedo klaxon sometimes blares when you start talking about shellfish, but if you’re a little more adventurous with your food, Com Hen Dap Da, just over the bridge which spans the Nhu Y River, is one of a string of com hen places. The dish is soupy rice with peanuts, bean sprouts and herbs on top, along with a generous pile of tiny shelled shellfish. The taste is perhaps an acquired taste, but it is worth a go. Try in the late afternoon for pretty light looking across the river.

Sticking with things in shells, Quang Oc Minh Nghia might be worth a look. Sure it has all the atmosphere of an open air bus parking area (which is could well be in the morning), but if you like snails, this is the place. Standards include oc buu and oc hut (each 15,000 dong). Both come with plenty of chilli sauce. The location is out of town to the southwest—not walking distance.

Snails a couple of ways at Quang Oc Minh Nghia.

Snails a couple of ways at Quang Oc Minh Nghia. Photo: Stuart McDonald

If you’re looking for something sweet but local, Thach Cau Vong is on Nguyen Thien Thuat in the old city, to the southwest of the Imperial City. Desserts and assorted sweet stuffs are in trays out front and they’re ladled over ice and served in the shopfront behind. Till 13:00 only.

Once the sun has set, if you’d prefer something other than the more tourist-orientated bars on the strip but don’t want to jet across town, we had a couple of enjoyable evenings at Phuong Uyen. Think plastic stools (and people falling off them) iced beers and plenty of beer food. A fun local spot.

After a long hard day at the beach ... At The Buoi.

After a long hard day at the beach ... At The Buoi. Photo: Stuart McDonald

One last mention, out of town, roughly halfway to Thuan An Beach, you’ll find The Buoi. It is a fresh seafood restaurant overlooking a large lagoon full of fish farms. The setting is very basic, but the views are lovely, especially in the late afternoon, and it makes for a great place to lose a few hours in the company of cold drinks, crab, prawns and all your other seafood mate on the way back from the beach. Prices are moderate for the fare, but as not a lick of English is spoken, so be prepared to point and nod.


Map of eating options for Hue
Map of eating options for Hue
Legend
(1) Anh Vu Cafe (2) Ba Tung (3) Banh Ep (4) Bun Bo Hue Banh Uot Thai Nuong ( Off map to the west)(5) Bun Bo Me Keo (See Pho Tuan)(6) Bun Hanh (7) Bun Hen street stall (8) Coffee (9) Com Hen Dap Da (10) Dong Ba Market (11) Dung Ngo (12) Hang Me (13) Huyen Anh (Off map to the west)(14) Kore Cafe (15) Les Jardins De La Carambole (16) Lien Hoa (17) Nem Lui Ba Ty (18) Nook Cafe (19) Pho Tuan (20) Phuong Uyen (21) Quang Oc Minh Nghia (Off map to the southwest)(22) Red plastic stool coffee stall (23) Sugar cane vendors (Off map to the west)(24) Thach Cau Vong (25) The Buoi (Off map, halfway to Thuan An)(26) Zucca

Anh Vu Cafe 26 Le Thanh Ton, Hue.; T: (054) 352 7756; .
Ba Tung 47 Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue.; .
Banh Ep Hem 103, Nhat Le, Hue.; .
Bun Bo Hue Banh Uot Thai Nuong Kim Long, Hue. ; .
Bun Bo Me Keo 20 Bach Dang, Hue.; Mo–Su: 07:00-10:00.
Bun Hanh Kiet 56, Duong Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue.; Closes at 11:00.
Bun Hen street stall Near corner of Hai Ba Trung and Kiet 63; .
Coffee 53 Le Huan, Hue.; T: (0903) 571 709; .
Com Hen Dap Da So 3 Cu, Han Muc Te, Hue.; T: (0905) 570 949; .
Dong Ba Market 2 Trang Hung Dao, Hue.; .
Dung Ngo 54 Ba Trieu, Hue.; T: (0234) 3935 616; https://www.facebook.com/BanhUotDungNgo/ Mo–Su: 06–22:00.
Hang Me 12 Vo Thi Sau, Hue.; T: (054) 383 7341; .
Huyen Anh 50 Kim Long, Hue.; T: (0234) 352 5655; .
Kore Cafe 121/17 Ngo Duc Ke, Hue.; T: (054) 353 9541; .
Les Jardins De La Carambole 32 Dang Tran Con, Hue.; T: (0234) 354 8815; .
Lien Hoa 3 Le Quy Don, Hue.; T: (054) 381 6884; .
Nem Lui Ba Ty 81 Dao Duy Tu, Hue.; 16:00–21:00.
Nook Cafe Laneway 34, Nguyen Tri Phuong, Hue.; T: (093) 5069 741; https://www.facebook.com/nookeateryhue .
Pho Tuan 24 Bach Dang, Hue.; T: (0234) 3518 399; .
Phuong Uyen 130 Le Loi, Hue.; T: (0167) 282 3766; .
Quang Oc Minh Nghia 253 Pha Boi Chau, Hue.; T: (0935) 333 318; .
Red plastic stool coffee stall Corner of Le Loi and Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Hue.; .
Sugar cane vendors North bank of the Perfume River. ; .
Thach Cau Vong Nguyen Thien Thuat, Hue.; .
The Buoi 217 Kinh Duong Vuong.; T: (0905) 709 996; .
Zucca 3 Doi Cung, Hue.; T: (0122) 242 7375; .

Anh Vu Cafe
26 Le Thanh Ton, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (054) 352 7756; Under $2
Ba Tung
47 Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Banh Ep
Hem 103, Nhat Le, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Bun Bo Hue Banh Uot Thai Nuong
Kim Long, Hue. ; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Bun Bo Me Keo
20 Bach Dang, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Bun Hanh
Kiet 56, Duong Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Bun Hen street stall
Near corner of Hai Ba Trung and Kiet 63; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Coffee
53 Le Huan, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0903) 571 709; Under $2
Com Hen Dap Da
So 3 Cu, Han Muc Te, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0905) 570 949; Under $2
Dong Ba Market
2 Trang Hung Dao, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Dung Ngo
54 Ba Trieu, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0234) 3935 616; Under $2
Hang Me
12 Vo Thi Sau, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (054) 383 7341; Under $2
Huyen Anh
50 Kim Long, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0234) 352 5655; Under $2
Kore Cafe
121/17 Ngo Duc Ke, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (054) 353 9541; Under $2
Les Jardins De La Carambole
32 Dang Tran Con, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0234) 354 8815; Under $2
Lien Hoa
3 Le Quy Don, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (054) 381 6884; Under $2
Nem Lui Ba Ty
81 Dao Duy Tu, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Nook Cafe
Laneway 34, Nguyen Tri Phuong, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (093) 5069 741; Under $2
Pho Tuan
24 Bach Dang, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0234) 3518 399; Under $2
Phuong Uyen
130 Le Loi, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0167) 282 3766; Under $2
Quang Oc Minh Nghia
253 Pha Boi Chau, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0935) 333 318; Under $2
Red plastic stool coffee stall
Corner of Le Loi and Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Sugar cane vendors
North bank of the Perfume River. ; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
Thach Cau Vong
Nguyen Thien Thuat, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
Under $2
The Buoi
217 Kinh Duong Vuong.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0905) 709 996; Under $2
Zucca
3 Doi Cung, Hue.; Hue, Central Vietnam
T: (0122) 242 7375; Under $2
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