Bún bò Huế, or Beef Noodle Soup, represents the best food Huế has to offer and is totally dank on a cool rainy/misty morning in this old old city. A dish pioneered in the kitchens of the formal imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, it is a complex dynamo of beef, rice noodles, lemongrass and fermented shrimp paste. Alongside the architecture, the culinary legacy of these emperors is the best reason to visit Huế. While the street side lady vendors with their red plastic squat stools really know their Bún bò Huế they often close after the local breakfast rush which happens earlier then some of us younger tourists find ourselves up and out of the hotel. The most accessible places to try local specialties are the simple restaurants found on many side streets.After trying a few of the higher ranked spots on trip advisor we realized that not all Bún bò Huế is equal. Without naming names, some places grossly overcharged while others had veggies that were definitely less than fresh.
Phung Nam Cafe was a breath of fresh air and restored my faith in cuisine, they definitely have the best Bún bò Huế. Fresh rich broth exemplifies the balance between spicy, sour, salty and sweet while the heaping plate of fresh bean sprouts, lettuce, and other goodies adds the perfect veggie crunch. The price is right, the service friendly, the decor suitably eccentric, and the tea delicious. Go there, they even give you a sweet after meal banana! It’s at 38 Tran Cao Van St. a short walk from the south bank tourist ghetto.