Do you know that Vietnamese people eat rice every day? They usually have rice with several different dishes and soup. But rice noodle is another fundamental ingredient that is a great alternative to rice. Rice noodle soup is mostly favoured by locals as a breakfast menu, but they also love to have rice noodle (soup or fresh) for lunch or dinner.
The most well-known rice noodle soup is phở, which is a flat rice noodle and the most common variations of pho soup are pho bo (beef) or pho ga (chicken). Another major type of rice noodle is bún, which is cylindrical and resembles spaghetti. There are many ways to enjoy bun – soup with duck or fish and fresh (dry) with fried tofu and many more.
In this article, I’ll introduce you one famous local restaurant in Hanoi’s Old Quarter for bún cá, which is rice noodle soup with fish. I wrote about another locals’ favourite bun ca restaurant as a perfect menu for late-night food after going out because that restaurant is open till late. But the restaurant in this article is my favourite and go-to option for a good lunch.
It is located very close to the infamous bún ngan (duck rice noodle soup) place – the restaurant known for the “swearing owner” and luscious soup. This tiny alley is home to two of Hanoi’s highly popular and renowned restaurants, thus is almost always packed with local guests queuing.
The menu is limited to fish soup and the variation is only the noodles. You can choose between bun (white rice noodle) and mien (vermicelli) and there are two types of portions – normal (35,000VND) and big (40,000VND). As a side dish, you can order fried fish rolls or fried baguette to dip in your soup.
My choice is always bun noodle and the normal bowl is big enough portion because they are very generous with the quantity. Inside the soup, there’s plenty of noodle, fried fish, fried fish cake and fresh vegetables. The green vegetable they serve depends on the season – it’s most likely either pok choi (Chinese cabbage) or water celery.
The soup is rich and tastes sweet and sour because of tomato and pineapple used in boiling the broth. There’s a diversity of texture in one bowl of soup, which makes every mouthful very enjoyable. The food is served almost immediately because the very experienced staff are well-organised and they make sure you’re seated and take your order in a fast manner.
My personal reason why I favour this bun ca restaurant over all others is the chilli oil sauce. I have a huge thing about chilli sauce because I like having my food spicy. And this chilli oil enhances and heightens the flavour of the soup and ingredients if I put the right amount. If you like spicy just like me or want to give it a try, try a tiny bit before because it is quite spicy.