Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes


I’ve once introduced the most famous “bún”- rice vermicelli dish of Hanoi- Bun cha Obama. Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes take an important role in people’s daily life of this 1000 year capital city of Vietnam. “Bún” is easy to eat, heathy and really delicious. Here under are the top 5 most famous Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes. All the names are left untranslated as there are no English words that best describe those wonderful dishes.



The top 5 Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes



Bun thang


1.   Bún thang – mixed vermicelli


Where to eat: 31A Phan Dinh Phung st, Hoan Kiem or 29 Hang Hang str, Hoan Kiem


“Bún thang” is known for Hanoi’s most elegant “bún” dishes. To make a good bowl of “bún thang” requires lots of preparation and enthusiasm. Ingredients are: free range chicken meat, chicken eggs, mushrooms, radish and pork roll. The broth should be well cooked for about 4 hours to extract all the natural sweetness from pig bones. Those ingredients above are well displayed in the bowl with some decoration of local herbs like onion and laksa leaves. Few drops of shrimp paste are added to make the distinguished smell. This shrimp paste has a really strong smell and it’s recommended you try smelling it first before putting it in your bowl. Or it can destroy your whole meal. Local Hanoians love this!


These special Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes have to be both delicious and good looking. With all the ingredients and the whiteness of rice vermicelli touched with green herbs, the bowl looks like a nice colorful painting.  A good “bún thang” bowl will show you the feature of Hanoi’s culinary: simple yet elegant.



Bun oc Hanoi



 2.   Bún ốc – rice vermicelli with snails


Where to eat: Bún ốc Cô Béo 02 Hoe Nhai Str, Ba Dinh or 23 Hang Khoai Str, Hoan Kiem


As mentioned in the post “Weird food of Hanoi”, snails are popular among Vietnamese, especially in the countryside. In Hanoi snails are most found boiled and in “bún ốc” dishes. A bowl of “bún ốc” is presented with some red slices of tomato mixed with the whiteness of rice vermicelli, green spring onion and herbs, topped with boiled snails…all poured with hot yellowish broth. These Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes are always the favorite of Hanoi people in the summer.


I’ve got many overseas Vietnamese friends crying out missing home when they see pictures of bún ốc shared on the social Medias. Anyone who have chance to try this dish and feel the mild sour of rice vinegar, the spicy taste of chili and the chewy and crunchy boiled snails will understand why.


There are several types of snails that are good enough for making bún ốc. The best snails are found in the water of Hanoi’s West Lake. (Well that was in the past and now I hope snails from there are not used for bún ốc, because of the polluted water there!) Vietnamese girls and women love this dish, especially in the heat of Hanoi’s summer. There is nothing easier for lunch than a bowl of delicious bún ốc.



Bun rieu Hanoi



 3.   Bún riêu – Crab rice vermicelli soup


Where to eat: 23 Nguyen Sieu Str, Hoan Kiem or 42 Hoa Ma Str, Hai Ba Trung


It is a big loss if we are talking about Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes and “bún riêu” is not mentioned. The core ingredient is fresh water crabs. Freshly taken from the market (or rice fields in the countryside) crabs are well cleaned, milled and cooked over a small fire until crab meat turns into floating pies. A good bowl of bún riêu consists of white rice vermicelli, pinky brown crab meat, red tomato and green herbs. To make a stronger flavor a drop or two of shrimp paste can be added together with some fried onion. Some people prefer to eat this dish with deep fried tofu and lots of green herbs.


Bún riêu is an everyday dish which is very popular to Hanoians. It is not difficult to make good bún riêu. But to find a trusted bún riêu stall is not always easy. As fresh crabs are expensive so some stalls mix crab meat with green bean flour. It is safe to health but the taste is way different than 100% crab meat.



Bun doc mung Hanoi



   4.   Bún dọc mùng- pork rib rice vermicelli with Indian taro


Where to eat: Bún Thủy 128D Tran Nhat Duat Str, Hoan Kiem or 11 Hang Trong Str, Hoan Kiem


One of the most worth-to-try Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes is the “bún dọc mùng”. This dish bases mainly on varied parts of pork: pig leg, pork paste, pork ribs and even the broth is made from pig bones. Pig bones are cooked for 2-3 hours to make a natural sweet broth that is clean and fatless. The special ingredient of this dish is the plant part of Indian taro. Indian taros- dọc mùng are grown a lot in the countryside of Hanoi originally for making pig’s food. But then with the special taste it becomes favorite vegetable for making salads and this rice vermicelli dish. Pig legs is sliced real thin, pork ribs and pork paste are well cooked until soft. The food lady then add “dọc mùng” that has been soaked in hot water on top of the rice vermicelli then served hot with few big spoons of smoking hot broth poured on.


Sign of a good bowl of “bún dọc mùng”: broth is naturally sweet without using any sugar or seasoning, meat slices are fresh and soft but not dry, Indian taro is crunchy and porous. This dish is easy to prepare so many house ladies in Hanoi make this in the morning for their families as breakfast.



Bun dau mam tom Hanoi



    5.   Bún đậu mắm tôm – Vermicelli with fried tofu and shrimp paste


Where to eat: Phat Loc lane near Hang Bac Str, Hoan Kiem


More than once I’ve mentioned about how strong shrimp paste smells. I myself are not really a big fan of this most Vietnamese thing. But this “bún đậu mắm tôm” that uses shrimp paste as the strong point has won many people’s hearts and becomes famous all over Vietnam. These special Hanoi’s rice vermicelli dishes travel the nationwide and become one of Hanoi’s most talked dishes.


This dish was a really simple food for workers who didn’t have a large budget for lunch. It is fresh rice vermicelli served on one side, crunchy yellow deep fried tofu on the other side and lots of herbs in the middle. The star that has the kicking factor here is a small bowl of shrimp paste that is well mixed with chili, sugar, lime. Chopstick some rice vermicelli and one piece of fried tofu then deep it in the shrimp paste and let the flavor amazes you. Don’t forget to eat this with herbs like: origanum leaves, Melissa leaves. You won’t even feel the strong smell and taste of shrimp paste anymore. This dish is the most eaten dish during lunch time for officers in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.


Nowadays to please eaters this “bún đậu mắm tôm” is served with other kind of meat not fried tofu only. Boiled pig tongue, fried pig intestines, pork rolls…are added. But tofu and shrimp paste remain the main factors in this special Hanoi dish.


Join our Hanoi food tour to sample some of the best noodle soups in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.



Pham Tuyen