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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.

I still remember how difficult it was to try and find bún bò giò heo in the capital after being spoiled by the meal’s true richness in central Vietnam. It always came down to one thing. In Hue, the broth derives its complexity from boiled bones, trotters and mắm ruốc (Hue-style shrimp paste), before being infused with lemongrass, chilies and cashew powder.

Hanoi’s version just seems watery and thin; in comparison, it was an apparition of flavor. Until I realized — that’s how Hanoians like it! It is common knowledge among Vietnamese that northerners prefer subtle tastes, while in the center and south it’s rich and well-seasoned nourishment that fits the palate.

Thankfully, Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy achieves a middle ground between the two by adapting their recipe to cater not only to Hanoians, but also those searching for a more authentic Hue style, like myself. Though their broth is clear and light and contains pineapple — something that would make my friends in Hue turn their noses up — the richness of the soup remains. Thuy, who owns the shop, is a Hue native and said she achieved the dish’s complexity through prolonged simmering of the bones. What’s more, all the shop’s condiments — mắm ruốc, chilli sauce, shallot vinegar — are shipped in directly from her hometown.

A complete bowl here is topped with thinly-sliced beef, tendon, a firm block of coagulated pig’s blood, a small pig trotter and a knob of chả cua (pork and crab ball). Thuy’s customers rave about the chả cua, to the extent that she fetches more from Hue a couple of times a week in order to keep them fresh. She’s also meticulous with her meat — the beef is always well-marbled and tender. And while I’ve munched on beef loin, brisket and meaty tendons elsewhere, I’ve actually never tried the cut served at Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy: scrumptious and juicy beef cheeks.

In addition to bún bò giò heo, Thuy also serves bánh bột lọc and bánh nậm — two of the most popular dishes in Hue cuisine. Wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed, the former is pudgy, transparent and chewy, with savory shrimp pork fat inside, while the latter is flat, soft, and topped with minced meat and scallions. Although they aren't available every time I order, they are always fresh, and always my favorite.

Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy opens from 6:30am to 9pm daily. You can find them at 18 Dai Co Viet Street.

 

To sum up:

Taste: 4/5

Price: 5/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Friendliness: 5/5

Location: 5/5

 

Ha Ta absolutely loves food and dreams of selling noodles. 

Bun Bo Hue Thu Thuy

18 Dai Co Viet Street

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