by Cassidy Armbruster
10 Must Try Dishes in Hue
Hue, Vietnam is known for its cuisine, which is why I highly recommend you try a food tour if you have the time during your visit to Vietnam. The Flavours are rich, and the variety is plentiful. There are certainly well known must try Hue specialties like Bun Bo Hue and Banh Khoai, but Hue’s notable cuisine goes beyond these two dishes. I’ll introduce you to some dishes you can find at local spots throughout the city that you’ll have to try during your visit!
1) Ban Khoai
My mouth waters just think about this pan-fried crepe stuffed with shrimp, pork belly, and fresh bean sprouts, greens, and veggies. The delicious crepe is dipped into a rich peanut sauce, making for one of my favourite dishes in all of Vietnam. Our food tour stopped at Hong Mai, a local spot in Hue somewhat near the Citadel that is known for serving this Hue specialty. The women cook the Ban Khoai behind a small glass window under the heat so that the customers can see their delicious meals get prepared and cooked before being served. This is at the top of my must try dishes of Hue.
2) Banh Beo
I think I ate about 7 of these small steamed rice cakes during the food tour. This is one of the lesser known (but equally delicious) specialties of Hue. On top of the rice cake is a shrimp paste and crispy shallots. The texture may throw you off at first, seeing as it is pretty mushy and soft, but after a few bites you will learn to embrace it. Simply pour some of the fish sauce and chili peppers (if you like spicy) on top of the rice cake, and scoop it out with a spoon.
3) Banh Duc
Though this dish was as scrumptious as the other dishes, we appreciated it a little more because we helped prepare the dish. We used a spoon to smear the rice flour onto the banana leaf. We then added a shrimp paste, and wrapped and sealed the banana leaf before placing it into boiling water where it was cooked. After the dish was cooked, we unraveled the banana leaf to find a white soft dish that looked like jelly.
4) Cuon Hue
Spring rolls can be found throughout Vietnam and all of Asia, but each spring roll is different, and specific to location. On this occasion in Hue, we placed the delicious ingredients (starfruit, pork, pickled vegetables, cucumber, and chili peppers) seen below onto the rice paper, then rolled the rice paper, dipped it in the same peanut sauce eaten with the Ban Khoai, and ate away.
5) Frog Legs
Before jumping into the cooked goat, we tasted some “jumping chicken”. After being in Vietnam for a few months, I’ve grown accustomed to frog legs, and have in fact grown to really like jumping chicken. As one may assume by the nickname, the meat very much resembles the taste and texture of chicken. Some frog dishes are barely seasoned, and some, like what we tasted in Hue, are very rich and flavourful. I highly recommend you try frog during your visit in Vietnam!
6) Cooked Goat and Okra
In Hue, cooked goat and okra is used for both a popular curry and hot pot. We however, made this dish simple by cooking the goat and okra at the table, placing the meat and vegetable on a piece of lettuce, and delving in. Be careful though! We had to continuously turn the meat to ensure it was fully cooked with our chopsticks, and it would be easy to accidentally use the same chopsticks for consumption that you used to cook the raw meat. This delicious dish at the end of the food tour was considered the main course, but many hadn’t paced themselves throughout the tour and were too full to enjoy it. It’s a hard task when your tasting equally scrumptious food as you hop from restaurant to restaurant.
7) Che Ba Mau
This was the last stop on our food tour, so most of us were stuffed by this point. We sat at small chairs near the water and a bustling night market to taste this famous Vietnamese dessert. I am not exaggerating when I say this is my new favourite food. It is a tapioca pudding that comes in many flavours, made with a variety of tapioca, beans, jellies, and other ingredients depending on the flavour you so choose. On this occasion, I tried the purple taro tapioca pudding. Most Vietnamese mix several different puddings to make layers of unique flavours and bright colours, but I stuck with just the taro seeing as I was pretty full from the food tour. One woman on our trip even tasted a tapioca pudding flavoured with vegetables.