It’s not yet lunch time but the Huong Lien Bun cha or grilled pork noodle shop on Le Van Huu Street, Hanoi, has already been swarmed by customers. The shop has become more popular particularly after it welcomed US President Barack Obama during a visit in May.
The shop, at 24 Le Van Huu Street, has long been a famous eatery in Hanoi. Although it’s not a luxurious shop, it’s clean and spacious with professional catering services. During his visit to Vietnam, President Obama visited the shop and ordered 2 portions of Bun cha and some beers, which cost him just 6 USD. Just a few days later, the shop became one of the most visited eateries in Hanoi and the number of its customers keeps growing.
Most of the customers are curious what makes Bun cha at Huong Lien shop so different from other shops that President Obama wanted to taste. They all want a portion of Bun cha similar to the one ordered by President Obama. Nguyen Ngoc Huyen, a customer, said: “I’m studying in Australia. My friends in Vietnam kept telling me a lot about the Obama Bun cha so I was very anxious to taste it. I visited this shop during my summer vacation in Vietnam. Its Bun cha tastes good. ”
The shop has attracted not just Hanoians but many foreigners who are either visiting or working in Vietnam. Dong Min of the Republic of Korea said: “When I heard that President Obama tasted the traditional Bun cha of Hanoi, I also wanted to taste it. I and my Korean friends came here and ordered the Obama portion. We all liked it and we’ll definitely come back. »
Although the shop has made a name for itself, quality has always been one of its priorities. The grilled pork must be both fatty and lean meat so it will be soft and not dry. The dipping sauce contains vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, water, pepper, chilly, and garlic, which altogether create salty, sour, sweet, and hot flavors. The rice noodle should have small, soft threads. The Bun cha should be served with lettuce and some Vietnamese herbs. Shop owner Nguyen Thi Hang Nga said: “We buy noodle, pork, fish sauce, and vinegar from prestigious suppliers, which have been certified by city authorities. Our pork is always fresh. We have our own way of flavoring and grilling the pork to produce an aromatic, sweet taste.”
The shop, which opens from 7AM, receives hundreds of customers during its busiest days. It is most crowded between 11:30PM and 1AM. Hoang Nghia Sy, a regular customer, said: “I come here very often because I work near here. I’ve been eating Bun cha here for a dozen of years now. The color and the taste of the grilled pork here is very special. The dipping sauce is great. Once you eat here, you’ll definitely not want to go to another Bun cha shop.”
The CNN will introduce the Huong Lien Bun cha shop in Hanoi in its “Parts Unknown” program in September, which, hopefully, will help lure more foreign tourists to Hanoi.