I’ve been trying to stay away from actually eating on the street or in alleys. I’ve lucked out by finding really local food in traditional shops, but I know that there is food out there that I’m missing out on because I’m playing it safe. Through some research I found this hidden gem that serves bún chả and nem cua bể. I wish I could tell you the name of the place and the address, but I don’t have that info. It’s a no-name place in an alley with low plastic tables and very low plastic chairs. I’ll give you a location at the bottom of the post.
Bún chả is grilled pork belly and meatballs in a sweetish broth served with rice noodles. The thing about this place is that they use wooden sticks to grill their meat instead of screens or metal skewers. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. The sticks are well burnt and well seasoned. The sticks full of meat are right on top of the charcoal and the flames flare with every drip of fat. The wonderful char comes through with every bite. I’ve had some good bún chả, but this is, by far, the best.
The only other thing this place has on the menu is nem cua bể (pork, crab spring roll). This particular nem was also the best I’ve had so far. It came out steaming hot with a crispy skin and a good amount of crab meat. I dipped the nem in the bún chả broth and….wow! I guess when you only do two things, there’s a good chance you’ll do it right.
If you’re in Hanoi and you want to have the best bún chả and nem cua bể in the city, find this place. It’s very local. Everyone but us were locals, so I had to use my very limited Vietnamese and pointing skills to order. Two orders of bún chả, nem cua bể, and botlled water set us back 70,000 VND ($3.08 USD) total. You can’t beat that.
Bún Chả and Nem Cua Bể Alley
Look for The Wolfhound Irish Bar
4 Lương Ngọc Quyến
Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm
The restaurant is in the alley to the right of The Wolfhound Irish Bar.