return icon

Bun cha: a tasty feast of colours and flavours

 VietNamNet Bridge – Ha Noi cuisine features a wide variety of dishes with vermicelli. Among them, bun cha (vermicelli with grilled pork and fresh herbs) delights, with its seductive taste and aroma.

VietNamNet Bridge – Ha Noi cuisine features a wide variety of dishes with vermicelli. Among them, bun cha (vermicelli with grilled pork and fresh herbs) delights, with its seductive taste and aroma. Nothing is better than savouring bun cha at a small food stand in summer, while the intriguing scent of grilled pork surrounds you.


Sizzling: Minced pork patties are grilled over a charcoal fire. Photos: Truong Vi/VNS



“Bun cha is one of the characteristic Ha Noi dishes long adored by locals,” said culinary artist Pham Thi Anh Tuyet, who has contributed significantly to the preservation of quintessential Hànoian food for years.

Writer Thach Lam, famous for his nostalgic prose about ancient Ha Noi, wrote in Ha Noi: 36 pho phuong (Ha Noi: 36 streets and guilds): “Bun cha is the most important and characteristic dish of Ha Noi. No place offers better bun cha than Ha Noi. Everyone, or at least food connoisseurs, would say that.”

“The one who created this dish deserves to be remembered, respected and commemorated by us: equally, or even more than, the way we remember one who wrote a literary work,” wrote Thach Lam.

No one really knows when, where and how bun cha was created.

When Anh Tuyet was small, it was already a familiar dish in ancient Ha Noi.

“In the old days, there were hardly any bun cha restaurants. The dish was found in the handwoven bamboo baskets of vendors who wandered the streets serving the dish,” said Anh Tuyet. “Bun cha used to be eaten on summer days for its green herbs and fish sauce, which left diners with a fresh feeling which helped to fend off the summer heat.”

“Bun cha offered by vendors is out of this world... Wherever the vendors stopped, that place would be filled with an impressive aroma of grilled pork,” wrote writer Vu Ngoc Phan.

Bun cha is a harmonious and healthy combination of rice vermicelli, grilled pork, and fresh herbs. This Ha Noi staple is also a tactful blend of different tastes.

Dipping the noodles in the sauce, and eating bites of pork and fresh herbs - including lettuce, coriander, Lang basil and perilla - awakens all your taste buds.

Two types of grilled pork are served in bun cha: minced pork patties and thinly-sliced side belly pork. In the old days, the pork was clamped by bamboo sticks, which have since been replaced by wire racks, and then grilled over a charcoal fire. Nowadays, if one sees swhirling smoke while driving, it is likely a restaurant grilling pork for bun cha.

The accompanying dipping sauce features well-balanced saltiness (fish sauce), sourness (vinegar or lemon), spiciness (chili) and sweetness (sugar). The sauce is sometimes embellished with some thin slices of green papaya or kohlrabi and carrot pickles, looking like flowers floating in a little river.

This sauce not only indulges diners’ tastebuds, but offers a feast of colours including brown-yellow fish sauce, carrot’s natural orange, light white papaya, and bright red chili.

“The quality of bun cha depends a lot on the sauce and grilled pork. The pork must be tender and perfectly cooked,” said Anh Tuyet. "Whether the sauce is good or not depends on the delicacy of the cook’s taste. Some people have precise formulas, but for some cooks just tasting is enough to make the perfect sauce."

International fans

Nowadays, bun cha can rarely be found in vendors’ bamboo baskets anymore, but it is widely available on every Ha Noi street. Locals eat bun cha for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is found in rural and urban markets, at food stands on the street, in fine restaurants, and also in many Vietnamese restaurants in foreign countries.


Culinary heritage: Bun cha is the most important and characteristic dish of Ha Noi. 





Savoury: Nothing is better than savouring bun cha at a small food stand in summer or winter. 




Jess Carey is an Australian traveller and blogger who is very passionate about Vietnamese cuisine.

"I love Vietnamese food, which is different from food in other parts of the world, because everything is so fresh. Among Vietnamese specialties, bún chả is definitely a favourite food for me and my husband,” said Jess.

“We are really lucky here in Melbourne to have lots of Vietnamese restaurants which offer bun cha. Compared to the bún chả I ate in Việt Nam, it tastes just as good here in Melbourne but the price is unfortunately more expensive,” said Jess.

The Australian travel blogger also makes bún chả at home at least once per fortnight.

“I think a lot of people I know would enjoy it, but probably wouldn’t know what it is called,” said Jess.

On his recent trip to Viet Nam, US president Barack Obama sampled a bun cha eatery on Ngo Thi Nham Street. Many major international news agencies ran the story, resulting in Vietnamese - and especially Hanoians - taking even greater pride in bun cha than ever before. This same restaurant now offers an ’Obama combo’, which includes a bowl of bun cha, a fried seafood spring roll and a Ha Noi beer for VND85,000 (US$4): the same combo the US president ordered.

Anh Tuyet’s restaurant on Ma May Street in the famed Old Quarter also serves a wide variety of Ha Noi specialties.

“Among them, bun cha is always asked for and loved by customers, especially foreigners,” said Tuyet.


Bun cha is served at:

Ha Noi

 Hang Nga  

Ngo cho Dong Xuan (Dong Xuan Market Alley), Hang Chieu Street.

 74 Hang Quat Street.

 Tuyet

34 Hang Than Street. Phone: (04) 39 270 879

 Huong Lien

Ngo Thi Nham Street. Phone: (04) 3943 4106

 Sinh Tu

57 Nguyen Khuyen Street. Phone: (04) 3747 0158

 Duy Diem

140 Ngoc Khanh Street. Phone: (04) 38 315 802

HCM City

 Hoa Dong

121 Ly Tu Trong Street. Phone: 0164 667 9671

 Ánh Hong

140 Ly Chinh Thang Street. Phone: (08) 3930 7878

 Ho Guom

135 Vo Van Tan Street. Phone: (08) 6678 3756

Da Nang

 Huong Vi Bac (Northern Taste) restaurant

Alley 59, Nguyen Huu Tho Street.

 Ha Long

228 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street.

 Bun Ha Noi

362 Dong Da Street.

 Ha Noi xua

95A Nguyen Chi Thanh Street. Phone: 0906 220 868

 Bun cha Ha Noi

58 Thai Phien Street. Phone: 0511 3823305

related news

Hanoi’s Bun cha shop packed after Obama’s visit

“Obama” grilled pork noodle in Hanoi

“Bun cha”- special dish of Hanoi

Dishes help promote Vietnamese tourism

Hanoi’s unique food on Phat Loc Street


Hong Van


Amid global unrest, VN billionaires incur huge losses

Despite good news about the economy, including high growth rate and low inflation, stock prices have been sliding all over the globe.

Vietnam needs to expand airport network to relieve pressure on infrastructure

Vietnam ranks No.1 on the list of the 25 countries with the fastest post-pandemic recovery of the domestic aviation market.

Binh Duong lures foreign investors with special care

The southern province of Binh Duong has taken the lead for foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction thanks to its methods of taking care of investors.

Securities under pressure from external risks

Although the US Federal Reserve (FED) raised the interest rate in the hope of reducing inflationary pressure, it has come as a shock to see a rise in the core US inflation data, despite falling oil prices.

Unemployment rate falls, workers' incomes increase

According to the General Statistics Office's Report, the labor and employment situation in the third quarter of 2022 continued to recover.

The most expensive birds in Vietnam

Red-whiskered bulbs (Pycnonotus jocosus) with original colors are priced at VND500 million and tiny chickens with original colors sell for thousands of USD.

Drinks from dracontomelon: A popular heat-relieving drink in Hanoi

Sweet drinks made from ‘sau’, a fruit which is known scientifically as Dracontomelon, are a popular heat-relieving drink in Hanoi during the hot summer.

1,000 authors with doctoral degree or higher compiled textbooks for new academic year

As many as 1,574 authorities participated in compiling textbooks for six grades in accordance with the new general education program issued in 2018.

Expectations positive for growth trajectory

The Vietnamese economy has been gradually bouncing back thanks to the government’s major efforts to curb the pandemic and remove obstructions to progress for enterprises.

Law on Pharmacy needs to be amended

The lack of medicine at public hospitals has caused concern among the public. The Prime Minister has instructed the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and relevant ministries to find solutions to resolve the problem.

FIEs seek streamlined workforce policy

The human resources of Vietnam are improving to meet the demand of foreign-invested enterprises. However, they may require stronger policies on visas to enhance performance and transfer high technologies to Vietnam

US investors display confidence in Vietnam

Vietnam and the United States are seeking ways to increase their investment and trade ties, with the latter pledging to support the latter in education, training, and the energy transition.

Entrepreneurs blaze a trail in the city

Die-hard entrepreneurs are re-inventing themselves to solve business problems and find their niches in Ho Chi Minh City.

VN ranks 48th in Global Innovation Index 2022

Vietnam ranked 48th among the 132 economies featured in the Global Innovation Index 2022 (GII 2022).

Outstanding policies take effect in October 2022

A string of new policies on higher vehicle registration fee, termination of compulsory unemployment insurance premium, electronic identification and authentication and cybersecurity come into effect in October 2022.