1. Com hen (baby clams with rice) – Can you Handle the Spice?
Address: Cơm hến Hoa Đông – 67/7 Ung Binh Street, Vy Da
If you are are a fan of spicy food, this is the one Hue speciality you shouldn’t miss. To give you energy before a day of walking around the imperial city, have a bowl of com hen. The translation of this to English as ‘clam rice’ or ‘Tiny mussel rice’ is an understated label for what is a chaotic bowl of contrasting colors, tastes and textures: rice, tender stir-fried clams, crisp pork cracklings, peanuts, bean sprouts, julienned green apples, glass noodles, fried shallots, herbs and, chili sauce are tossed together along with a bowl of hot clam broth that you can add as you wish.
2. Bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) – The Food of the City.
- Address: Bún bò Huế o Phụng – 7 Nguyen Du Street, Phu Cat
“Bun bo Hue” – spicy beef noodle soup in English – is the soul of Hue cuisine. So much so that the city’s name made it into the name of the dish.
Unlike pho which has a flat rice noodle, bun bo Hue is made with thin round rice noodles. The broth consists of a stock made from beef and/or pork bones, flavoured with lemongrass, annatto seed, ginger, fermented shrimp paste, sugar and chilies. Added to this broth is a piece of pork, a piece of beef pie, “huyet” (cubes of congealed pig blood, somewhat similar to ‘black pudding’), and of course a few thin slices of beef. On the side you will be given a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables, such as lime wedges, green and white onions, sliced banana blossoms, chili paste, fistfuls of “rau ngo” (Vietnamese coriander), and mint. It can be enjoyed anytime of day, but is often eaten for breakfast, especially when the morning weather is a little cooler. Slurping this warm broth and taking in all the accompanying flavours will be the perfect way to start your day.
3. Banh beo Hue (water-fern cake) – An Addictive Cake
- Address: Bà Đỏ – 8 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm Street
Known in English as steamed rice cakes, ‘banh beo’ looks similar to a cupcake. This is where the similarities end however, as the taste is very savoury, being topped with dried shrimp, pork cracklings, shallots and herbs and served with fish sauce. They are cooked in one of two vessels which determine their name and shape. ‘Banh beo chen’ are steamed and served in small ceramic saucers; while ‘banh beo dia’ are cooked in a slightly bigger metal pot and served on a larger plate.
When eating, drip some fish sauce on top and eat them one at a time. They are an ideal snack at any time of day. Always great to share over conversation and a beer to compliment the spice, you will eat more than you think.
4. Banh bot loc (cassava powder cake) – Everyone’s Favourite Snack
- Address: O Lé – Kiệt 104, Kim Long
This is a typical Hue snack in which a tapioca flour-based dough is stuffed with caramelized shrimp and pork. As with ‘banh beo’, ‘banh bot loc’ also has two versions. In the single version ‘banh loc goi’ this cake is wrapped in lightly oiled banana leaves and steamed. The eater will open the parcel, remove the cake and spoon over some spicy fish sauce.
The plural version is known as ‘banh loc tran’ and is stuffed with a more generous portion of shrimp and pork than banh loc goi, then boiled rather than steamed, and served under a dense layer of chopped green onions and crispy fried shallots, along with fish sauce, to be spooned over the top.
5. Che khoai tim (purple sweet potato sweet soup) – The Colour of Hue
- Address: Chè Cầm, 10 Nguyễn Sinh Cung, Vỹ Dạ MAP
Che is a sweet soup that is not only a popular Vietnamese dessert but also well known throughout Southeast Asia. While ‘che’ comes in plenty of varieties, Hue has its own take on the regional favourite. Eating ‘che khoai tim’ is one way to savour the colour of Hue – purple. “Che khoai tim” is made from purple sweet potato, kudzu powder, and sugar. Under the skillful hands of Hue cooks, the ingredients mix perfectly and turn into a distinctively tasty sweet soup. Purple is considered to be the colour of Hue. Eating this sweet soup will give you a taste of Hue, connecting you with a tradition dating back hundreds of years.
6. Che hat sen long nhan (Lotus seed and longan sweet soup) – The Soul of Hue
- Address: Chè Hẻm, 1 Kiệt 29 Hùng Vương, Phú Hội
While ‘che khoai tim’ symbolises the color of Hue, ‘Che hat sen long nhan’ represents its soul. Its pure look, along with its light sweet taste and numerous health benefits, has made it one of the most popular deserts among locals. You will fall in love with the thick juicy longan flesh (a fruit similar to a lychee), and the soft aromatic lotus seeds which give this soup its distinct flavour.
Vietnamese believed that consuming this dessert frequently will help to calm your nerves, reduce your stress and fatigue levels, and it may also improve your quality of sleep. It can be enjoyed both hot and cold.