Urbanist Hanoi

BackEat & Drink » Street Food » Ngõ Nooks: A Blissful Fish Feast at Bun Ca Sam Cay Si

Ngõ Nooks: A Blissful Fish Feast at Bun Ca Sam Cay Si

As hot as it gets, Hanoi’s scorching summer is no match for delightful fish rolls and refreshing sour soup.

As a Vietnamese, there are a few moments that define my eating life: the first pungent bite of chả cá Lã Vọng, a bánh cuốn soaked in lime and spicy fish sauce, a broiling bowl of quail eggs and bánh canh in the central highlands. Sam Cay Si’s slick, indulging nem cá, or fish spring rolls, is one of those.

To dissect the delight: there’s chopped pork, wood-ear mushrooms and fried shallot as stuffing, a thin-cut perch fillet as the wrap, then it’s all deep fried until crunchy and bouncy as a cheese stick. Sour and spicy fish sauce to dip in is a must. To end on a high note, take a sip of trà đá to remedy the greasiness.

Then comes bún cá – a hot bowl of fish noodles. In the hierarchy of Vietnamese noodles, bún cá is not elite compared to phở, bún chả, or bún bò Huế, yet it is no less delectable. Sam Cay Si’s bún cá is all about blissful crustiness: deep-fried fillet, hollow stems of water dropwort (rau cần) and on top, a fresh slice of pineapple. The broth has ample umami flavor from the fish stock, is aromatic thanks to fresh dill, and sour after adding tomatoes.

Yet the refreshing feeling of consuming Sam Cay Si’s bún cá doesn’t come entirely from the soup itself. Apart from neighboring tiny temple and a weeping fig (cây si in Vietnamese, which has become part of the name for the stall), this bún cá shop also blocks the alley and the way into an entire market, which makes sitting on one of its tiny stools even more exhilarating. The whole setting is intimate: strangers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder facing fruit vendors only a few hundred centimeters from passing motorbikes.

Sam has been selling bún cá for over ten years with the help of a team of daughters and sons-in-law. Though it's undoubtedly hectic, the team are not another of Bourdain’s 'cussing noodles.' As humble as it gets, bún cá and fish rolls at Sam Cay Si are the utmost delights one could hope for on upcoming scorching summer days.

Bun Ca Sam Cay Si is open from 7am to 5pm.

 

To sum up:

Taste: 5/5

Price: 5/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Friendliness: 5/5

Location: 3/5

Trang Bui is addicted to shrimp paste and gets kicked out of 50% of street food restaurants.

Bún cá Sâm Cây Si

5 Ngo Trung Yen, Hoan Kiem

Print
icon


Related Articles:

Hẻm Gems: Homemade Chilli Sauce and Aromatic Broth at Ever-Moving Spicy Pho Bay

Hẻm Gems: Tender Strips of Beef at Pho Thin

Hẻm Gems: Refreshing Cocktails at Hanoi’s Best Hole-in-the-Wall


Related Articles

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: At Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy, a Broth That Bridges Tastes

In only three places have I enjoyed truly sumptuous bowls of bún bò giò heo: in its hometown of Hue, in Hoi An and at Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy in Hanoi.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: At Bun Ca Thai Binh, Succulent Snakehead Infused With Turmeric and Cashew

When a friend of mine returned home after living abroad last year, he longed for a bowl of bún cá. I suggested the classic Hanoi dish, with satisfyingly oily deep-fried fish, but he had other ideas&nb...

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Authentic Bánh Cuốn That Took a Century to Perfect

Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh is nearly a century old, and both the eatery’s name and the authenticity of the food they serve stem from the same source: the culinary wisdom of Grandma Hoang.

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Autumnal Golden Hours Are the Key Ingredient in Cô Thoa’s Bún Bò Nam Bộ

Hanoi’s fascination with bún is endless. There are more varieties in this city than anywhere else in Vietnam. Bún has a lot more to offer than phở, especially as it can be served cool and dry, as seen...

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Bún Cá With a Twist That Takes Guts to Try

Ut Ha Quan looks nothing like the kind of traditional Hanoi street food eatery that makes it to glossy magazines and world-famous food channels. There’s no grumpy grandma, no mold on the walls an...

in Street Food

Ngõ Nooks: Hearty Banh Mi From a New-Fashioned Hanoi Co-Operative

Hop Tac Xa Thit Xien is more than just a bánh mì eatery – it’s a place to rekindle your childhood nostalgia and absorb the style of the street.