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Bun Cha and Nem Cua Be: Eat in Hanoi like a Local

Try Bun Cha! – A Facebook comment I got from Vien Cortes who lived in Hanoi for 5 years. Since our Tourist Bus is WiFi equipped, I immediately asked Duc, our efficient tour guide where can I find Bun Cha and he said he will try to bring us to one of the best “Hole in the Wall” Bun Cha place in Hanoi.

Most Popular Bun Cha Restaurant in Hanoi
Most Popular Bun Cha Restaurant in ???ng Thành Old Quarter of Hanoi

On our last day in Hanoi, Duc booked our lunch at Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim Restaurant in Old Quarter in Hanoi. Located in Duong Thanh street, this Bun Cha place started serving this famous Vietnamese Dish in 1966. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the ground floor was already full of locals and tourists enjoying their lunch but thanks to Duc, who was able to reserve our seats at the second floor.

Bun Cha and Nem Cua Be Set
Bun Cha and Nem Cua Be Set

The best way to get to know a place is to taste the food it has to offer. When you’re in Hanoi, nothing will make you feel more like a local than a delicious serving of Bun Cha or a plate of freshly-cooked Nem Cua Be. These are two of the country’s most popular dishes that are not only served in their home towns but all over the world.

Add more Chili and Garlic if you want it spicy
Add more Chili and Garlic if you want it spicy

How to eat Bun Cha Nem Cua Be

Table of Contents

In order for you to enjoy the food, the first thing you need to know is how to eat it right? Eating Bun Cha is simple. The Rice vermicelli noodle noodle, grilled pork and pork patties in fish sauce with green papaya pickles, Nem Cua Be (crab or shrimp rolls) and fresh herbs are just mixed in a bowl and eat it like your ordinary noodle dish. If you want it spicy, you can add more chili and garlic as you wish depending on how hot you like it.

Grilled Sliced Pork and Pork Patties
Grilled Sliced Pork and Pork Patties

Noodle Dish of the North

Bun Cha is essentially grilled pork (mixed of sliced and patties) served with noodles and assorted greens. A simple enough dish yet incomparable for locals and even tourists lucky enough to try it. It’s so famous, and an absolute must-try in Hanoi, visitors will encourage friends and family to make sure they try the Bun Cha. “Forget everything else in your travel itinerary; just don’t forget to try the Bun Cha!”

Fresh Greens and Herbs
Fresh Greens and Herbs

If you’re not going to Hanoi Vietnam any time soon, however, just make the dish yourself! It’s always best to make the patties and marinate the pork yourself, instead of buying ready to grill versions. When cooking this dish yourself, don’t forget to allow enough time for the marinate to set not only with the pork, but with the vegetables as well. In this way, the flavor will be rich and even for your sides as well as the main dish.

Ready Bun Cha Go!
Bun Cha with your Boyfriend was hot like me! Bun Cha! (Baduy haha but I’m sure you know this line)

Shrimp Squares Like No Other

Nem Cua Be, on the other hand, is a shrimp or crab roll. What sets it apart is the unique way it is prepared. According to Hai Phong tradition, Nem Cua Be should be prepared in rice paper by enclosing it in a square and not a traditional roll. This makes it a fuller and more visually appealing meal.

Nem Cua Be Mucho!
Nem Cua Be Mucho! (Dont sing Please)

The little details of this dish makes it a gastronomic experience. In fact, it is one of Hanoi’s most distinctive dishes — one that tourists don’t think twice to fly across countries to try. Fortunately, you can also make this in the comfort of your own kitchen. If you want to eat like a local in Vietnam, you must learn how to cook the local dishes. There are Vietnamese Cooking Classes in Hanoi that you can take if you have ample time.

These dishes are the very best of Southeast Asian cuisine. Filipinos, in particular, will surely love them. Much like plenty of food found in the region, Bun Cha and Nem Cua Be are prepared like a lot of viand dishes in the average Filipino’s recipe book. They’re also best enjoyed the same way—with heaps of rice or rice noodles if you want it authentic Vietnamese.

The next time you’re in Hanoi, or even if you’re just in the mood to cook something new, try whipping up these Vietnamese staples.

Our Hanoi Vietnam Adventure was sponsored by Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam twice weekly every Tuesday and Saturday, leaving Manila at 10:30PM and arriving in Hanoi at 12:30am. Return flights will leave Hanoi at 1am every Wednesday and Sunday, and arrive in Manila at 5am.

For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to, or call the reservation hotlines (02) 7020-888 or (032) 230-8888. The latest seat sales and promos can also be found on CEB’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.

Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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