Sep 2011

Saigon Classic: Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The Astronomer and I recently traveled to Vietnam for a two-and-a-half week holiday. Three years have passed since we called Saigon home, and it felt incredible to be back. Oh, how I’ve missed the people, noise, and traffic!

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel and renting a scooter to get around, we headed to Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ in District 3 for our first meal in the city.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The Astronomer and I used to eat here on a daily basis when we first moved to Saigon because it was located within walking distance of our office at the East Meets West Foundation. And of course, the food was worth coming back for again and again.

When we walked into the restaurant, the proprietress instantly recognized us and asked where the heck we’d been. It’s always nice to be remembered at a restaurant, and even nicer when it’s been three years. We grabbed a table near the front and placed our order with her son. Our table was decked out with the usual utensils, box of tissues, and pork sausages wrapped in banana leaves (cha).

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

I ordered a tall glass of passion fruit juice to start. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies are widely available in Saigon to keep residents cool from the tropical heat. The ratio of sugar to juice is always perfect for my taste.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The cha gio at Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ had always been some of our favorites, but the ones served this afternoon were a shadow of their former selves. While the filling was more or less the same, the wrappers weren’t the crackly things that we adored.

According to my great aunt who lives in Saigon, Chinese-style egg roll wrappers have overtaken rice paper in popularity among the local set because they’re expensive and brown more evenly. Although I grew up eating egg roll wrappers, I latched onto cha gio made with rice paper as soon as I experienced them in Vietnam. Blistered is better in my book.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

I made a conscious effort throughout the trip to feast on dishes that are hard to come by in America. A bowl of bun mam was high on the list because I’ve yet to find a solid rendition anywhere close to home.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The bowl arrived steaming hot and brimming with shell-on shrimp, squid, fish cakes, pork, and slippery noodles, all swimming in a sweetly fermented broth. Oftentimes the memory of a dish can be impossible to match in reality, but that wasn’t the case here. All was right with the world as I buried my face in that bowl.

Bun Bo Hue Yen Do - Ho Chi Minh City

The Astronomer was equally smitten with his bun bo Hue. As he slurped the noodles and sipped the spicy broth, he kept uttering that this was one of the best bowls of bun bo Hue ever.

Even though prices have literally doubled since our last meal here, every dong spent was well worth it. Thanks for the warm welcome, Yên Đỗ.

For more Vietnamese food adventures from our summer 2011 trip, check out these posts:

Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ
252/68B Ly Chinh Thang Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: 9312975

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7 thoughts on “Saigon Classic: Bún Bò Huế Yên Đỗ

  1. Looks wonderful. I’m glad you weren’t disappointed with the soups. I’m with you on the cha gio; I think the Chinese-style may kee better once cooked and may be easier to produce a consistent result, but they seem inferior to well made cha gio with banh trang.

  2. Hiep – Oh my gosh! How embarrassing! I blame jet-lag for this grave oversight. Thanks for noticing, the edit has been made. Please don’t tell my family 😉

  3. I knew something was wrong with those cha gio, but rest assure, the fascination with the Chinese egg roll wrappers might be short lived. First time I had a cha gio made with the egg wrapper, I thought it was the greatest invention in food history. Properly fried, it becomes crunchy faster and stays crunchy longer, but it does get boring after awhile and if it gets burnt, the whole cha gio taste horrible. It doesn’t reheat well either. Nowaday, I always make cha gio using rice paper wrappers. I used to have problems with rice paper skin sticking to my teeth, but thanks to modern machinery, rice papers can be made thin enough to eliminate that problem. Rice paper cha gio has both the pleasant crunchiness and chewiness that you simply cannot replicate with the eggroll wrappers.

    I’m glad you’re back to do more food blogging from Vietnam, even if it’s just for a while.

  4. I can’t wait to go back to Vietnam and this time spend time in Saigon. The food looks so incredible. I didn’t find anyone using egg wrappers in the North so I luckily got to enjoy those rice paper wrappers and I agree blistered superior to perfectly browned!

  5. girl, I’ve never had bun mam! what if you make this for me? we can fry up rice-paper-wrapped egg rolls together, too (because guess what, my mom uses the Chinese stuff!).

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