When you think of Vietnamese cuisine what comes to mind? Pho? Bahn Mi? For me, the first thing I think of is Bun Bo Hue. Have you ever tried it? It’s a rice vermicelli noodle (Bun) soup with a lemongrass beef (Bo) broth. It’s spicy, sweet, salty and sour all at the same time. So good!
I first tried this dish with my sis-in-law’s sister at An Loi in Columbia, MD. She has a particular way of eating this dish that has rubbed off on our entire family – Bun Bo Hue with a side of tomato rice and sliced onions. She would alternate spoonfuls of noodles with spoonfuls of tomato rice dunked in the broth a la Korean gook bop (gook bop literally means soup rice, you put rice inside the soup and eat it together). I’ve even got Kevin eating this way. The only time I don’t order the side of tomato rice is when I’m trying to watch my weight or diet, but really who am I kidding? If I’m trying to watch my weight or diet, what am I doing eating noodle soup in the first place?!?!? HAHA. 😉
You dress the soup the same way you would pho – add in some Thai basil leaves, bean sprouts, sliced peppers, a squeeze of lime. When Kevin and I have this dish, by the end of the meal our broths taste so different from each other. You see, he only adds a few sliced peppers into his soup and he likes to dip the beef into a mix of hoisin and sriracha sauce. I like to add all the sliced peppers and drop the lime wedge into the soup and I eat the meat with the sliced onions smothered in sriracha sauce, kind of like ssam, I use the meat as a wrap for the onions.
Bun Bo Hue. The noodle soup comes out like this.
You add in these vegetables and herbs to enhance the broth and texture. Bean Sprouts, Thai Basil Leaves, Sliced Jalapeno Peppers, Lime wedges.
Sauces and Condiments are found on the table. Use these sauces to further enhance your broth or as dipping sauces for your meat, noodles and vegetables. The brown sauce is usually Hoisin sauce, but some restaurants make their own version.
Sliced onions. I like to put sriracha sauce on the sliced onions and make a faux kimchi. I don’t know if it’s the Korean in me, but I need something fresh with a bite to go with this dish. An Loi offers kimchi on their menu, but me personally I find the flavor of kimchi too strong to go with Bun Bo Hue. The sriracha onions are perfect – mild and light so it doesn’t distract you from the broth.
This is my bowl. Bean sprouts. Check. Thai basil. Check. Sliced peppers. Check. Lime. Check. It’s time to eat!!! 😀
The bun noodles are thicker than pho rice noodles. I’ve heard the correct way to eat noodle soups is to place it in the spoon instead of slurping up the noodles. But if the noodles are short enough, I just eat it off the chopsticks.
Tomato rice and soup. Yum! Give this a try, you’ll be hooked!
Sriracha onions wrapped in meat. Learn to eat fat girl style – In your right hand have a spoonful of noodles and broth ready. In your left hand have your chopsticks ready with sriracha onions wrapped in meat. Eat the right, followed by the left. Happy days!
I don’t know how authentic An Loi’s version of Bun Bo Hue is, but it sure is tasty! I’ve ordered this dish in many Vietnamese restaurants both in the U.S. and abroad, and I find An Loi’s version to be foreigner-friendly. It’s like the ‘intro to Bun Bo Hue’ version. I’ve also never seen bright orange tomato rice served anywhere else. The more authentic versions have cubes of congealed pig blood (texture of spongy tofu…I know, my description doesn’t sound too appetizing. Sorry!), pig’s knuckles, oxtail and sliced beef. My favorite Vietnamese restaurant is called Le Bambou in Paris, France. Their Northern Pho broth is the best I’ve ever had. So aromatic and delicious! For pho, I like Pho Van in Catonsville by the Office Depot.
Bun Bo Hue is one of my go-to comfort food dishes, especially on rainy days like today. I hope you give this dish a try and love it as much as I do! What are your favorite comfort foods? Let me know in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe after reading. 🙂