A tingling of spice coats your tongue as you slurp up a mouthful of the flavourful Bun Bo Hue broth. Every bite of tender beef cuts seems more delicious than the last. It’s no wonder that Vietnamese love their noodle soups and eat them any time of day. The flavours burst, dance and linger, as you drink and munch on all the colourful components.
Just when I thought Chinese noodle soup was my favourite with its chewy egg noodles, I’m won over by the perfect balance of flavours and textures in Bun Bo Hue. This famous Vietnamese noodle soup is a regional specialty of Hue, yet such is its popularity, you can eat almost anywhere in the country.
Bun Bo Hue is one of pho’s many cousins, slightly spicy, with rice noodles that resemble spaghetti in shape, and a mixture of beef bones, Vietnamese luncheon and a variety beef cuts.
Accompanying vegetables include shaved banana blossom (bap chuoi non) and a green herb steeped in legend – water spinach (rau muong).
According to urban legend, water spinach was once only a vegetable fed to pigs. However, one day during war time in Hanoi a king stopped by a small, poor village for a meal. He went to a poor widow’s house and asked for something to eat. She didn’t have any food to feed the king, and in a panic she decided to make a dish out of water spinach. The king loved it and asked the name of the dish. The lady was too scared and ashamed to answer, so she committed suicide. When the king found out later, he was saddened, and honoured the lady by naming the vegetable after her. Rau is the Vietnamese word for vegetable, and Muong was the lady’s name.
As with other Vietnamese noodle soups, this dish is served with fresh chillis, fish sauce (nuoc mam), fresh lime wedges, spring onions and onions.
This spicy soup is nice washed down with a sweet bottle of sasi (Vietnamese sarsaparilla – Xa Xi Chuong Duong)
This particular delicious bowl of beefy, spicy goodness is located one of our family’s most favourite restaurants on Truong Son Street, Cu Xa Bac Hai, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.