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March 24, 2012

Hue food & imperial dining

The little Hue city is not only famous for its old charming architectures but also for its rich and unique cuisine. About two thousands of Vietnamese traditional dishes take their origins from Hue. Eating and drinking has become a refined art in this old capital of Vietnam. Hue delicacies are divided into two categories: royal and popular. Hue is also well known for vegetarian food.

The first highly recommended dish is “Bun bo Hue” (Hue Beef Noodle Soup). Like Pho in the north, you should taste “Bun bo Hue” to experience the artful combination of flavors. Citronella, shrimp paste, boiled meat, lemonade, vegetables, onion, pepper, etc, all blend well with each other to create a distinctive and appetizing dish. Street stalls along Nguyen Du St are well known for the best “Bun Bo Hue”. Some other reliable addresses are “Bun Bo Hue” (14 Ly Thuong Kiet), “Bun Mu Rot” behind Dieu De pagoda or “Bun Cay Da” (Nguyen Sinh Cung St).

You cannot leave Hue without enjoying Com Hen (clam rice). Made with nearly 20 ingredients, Com Hen offers mixed tastes of sweet mussel, salty shredded meat, acrid green bananas and stingingly hot chilly. Com Hen is sold every morning by street vendors or in shops and inns along Truong Dinh Road. The best places are “Com Hen” restaurants in Vi Da precinct. Here, you can enjoy it inside the stall or outside on pavement. Actually, majority of tourists would like to sit outside, besides the peddled wares.


Apart from Com Hen and Beef Noodle Soup, Hue is also well known for a variety of delicious cakes including “banh beo”, “banh nam”, “banh bot loc”, “banh khoai” and “banh la cha tom”. “Banh beo” is made from steamed rice and tapioca flour, looking like Japanese water-fern. It is topped with dried shrimps, meat, herbs and served with a special sweet sauce. Ingredients of “banh nam” are also the same but it is wrapped by banana leaves before steaming. “Banh bot loc” is made of manioc, shrimps and simmer pork. Almost every restaurant serves these traditional delicacies but those specialized in making cakes are better. There are several great cake shops such as “Ba Cu” on Nguyen Hue Street and “Ba Do” on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street.

Hue is especially famous for variations of Che (sweet soup), a kind of dessert. It can be mentioned here “che dau van” (French bean soup), “che dau ngu” or “che hot sen boc nhan”. If you do not have enough time to discover all culinary delights around the city, come to Thao Nhi Palace at Cu Chanh Hamlet, Thuy Bang Commune. Set in a luxuriant garden, it is not only an ideal destination to enjoy a full range of local specialties but also a great place to relax and savor the charm of Hue.

It is also fantastic to sample Hue imperial dining in luxurious cruises on Huong River or in deluxe hotels restaurants. There used to be 50 different dishes served in a royal feast but now you may choose around 10. The indispensable courses are “Nem cong”, “Cha phung” and cakes. Desserts must include “Che Tinh Tam”, which is made of lotus seeds. Royal cuisine presents not only refined cooking art of Hue people but also highly sophisticated eating etiquette. Normally, these grand dining places will offer you royal costume but it is not required to wear of course.

Well-preferred restaurants in Hue:
Little Italy: 2A Vo Thi Sau
Bloom Restaurant: 14 Nguyen Cong Tru
Mandarin Café: 24 Tran Cao Van
Tropical Garden Restaurant: 27 Chu Van An
Japanese Restaurant: 12 Chu Van An
Omar Makhayyam’s Indian: 10 Nguyen Tri Phuong
Tinh Tam Vegetarian: 4 Chu Van An

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