So, what is Bun Bo? It is actually a simple bowl of vermicelli noodles served with thin slices of beef and salad (beansprouts, lettuce, carrots, green papaya and herbs), topped with generous amount of fried shallots and grounded, toasted peanuts.
Straight after we have checked into our hotel, we went searching for this stall/shop. Holding a map while trying to register the different unfamiliar street names (not to forget, braving through the famous traffic), we quickly make our way for our first lunch stop. Luckily, the shops are well-numbered and it was pretty easy to find it.
As it was already past 2 pm there was not much of a crowd. Lucky us because we did see how crowded it was on a Saturday night when we passed by the area again. Inside, the shop looked pretty decent and surprisingly cleaner than I expected. Set-up wise, it did feel like being back to a primary school's canteen - long tables with low benches.
Ordering was a breeze (no communication breakdown) as there was only one main dish. You only need to tell them how many bowls you want, which hand gesture can easily settle. Plus, there was a large menu on the wall that lists their selection of drinks, clearly stating what they sell and how much each costs - only problem is that it is in Vietnamese, so we were practically guessing what each might be.
Bun Bo - this bowl of noodle looked pretty simple and less sophisticated, but the taste was exceptionally magnificent. I had the first bite and almost immediately, a shocking (a positive one, of course) expression was written all over my face, which panicked KS a bit (haha!). That expression was because I did not expect such tremendous flavour coming from this simple-looking noodle. Never judge a book by its cover, applies to this bowl of noodle.
The secret ingredient that makes all the difference lies in the light, sweet and sour beef broth (which you wouldn't notice until you start mixing the noodles). It is the beef broth that gave the noodle a lovely, warm taste. Even without adding the fish sauce, it already tasted very good. Of course, after adding it, it was even better. I strongly advise that you taste the Bun Bo without any additional condiments (picked chilli, chilli sauce or fish sauce) being added first so that you have a chance to sample the real taste.
The beef slices are also perfectly marinated and is very juicy & tender. Plus, the beef slices are cooked upon order, so freshness is assured.
Although it looked liked some salad (it is, after all, being termed as a noodle salad), it is served warm. Even the beansprouts have been lightly cooked. Of course, there is the hot beef broth to warm the dish.
To end, we ordered the 7Up Chai, which turns out to be 7Up in an old-school bottle.
Highly recommended! You'll regret if you went home without trying this yummy bowl of noodles.
Bun Bo Nam Bo
67, Hang Dieu Street
Old Quarters, Hanoi