Bun dau is the cousin of the famous bun cha. It is essentially the same but bun cha has grilled pork as its main meat dish instead of tofu. I was wondering around the streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam when I saw this small bun dau place that is full of locals.
The place piqued my interest, even though I’m not a huge fan of tofu. I reckon I could use some food to wash down all the fresh local draft beer that I had.
The bun dau place is quite a simple setup with a place for frying and cutting tofu and the ubiquitous pieces of meat in flour and seating arrangements inside and outside.
I was overwhelmed by the chunks of rice vermicelli, deep fried tofu, and the veritable forest of herbs and vegetables that came so I started eating it with the dipping sauce (made of fish sauce – as most Vietnamese dishes are).
There was a table of three girls sitting beside me and after watching me for a while, one of them came over and showed me how to mix the dipping sauce:
You’re supposed to put some bird’s eye chilli and squeeze a couple of limes into it for the taste to shine through.
It tastes pretty good but I have to admit, I had a lot of trouble finishing it coz I really dislike tofu.
The place attracts a lot of people from different walks in life – I saw everyone from office workers to stall owners at the Old Quarter pulling up a chair and ordering some bun dau.
The chunks of rice vermicelli have a very interesting texture. It has no taste per se, but the way it rolls around and unravels in your mouth when you dip it is quite an epicurean experience that is worth noting.
The best part is that it only costs VND 20,000 with a bottle of Bia Ha Noi! That works out to slightly over RM 3 – not too shabby for a tofu dish. ;)