I knew from the very first bite of my first dish in Vietnam that the country would have some of the finest gastronomical creations that showcase just why South East Asia is so attractive to foreigners.
When traveling, I always use my hostel as a first recommendation to find out not only what the best food of the region is, but where nearby serves the best. While staying in Hanoi, the employees of my hostel gave me one option that I had never heard of before: Bun Bo Nam Bo. They were so adamant, in fact, that between that and the staple food Pho, I was not given any other choices for dinner that night. One block down the street, I found my street vendor.
Street food in Hanoi, as well as most cities in Vietnam, is served a little differently than in the rest of the world. Describing it is a little difficult, and pictures don’t give the whole picture. Little stalls of mini restaurants line the street, and more often than not have small tables and plastic children’s chairs out front for customers to sit and consume on rather than full fledged tables.
But rather than serving a few items, most of the stalls serve one or at most two dishes. Coincidentally, the name of their street stall, is not surprisingly the name of the dish. So one street there may be many restaurants that serve Bun Bo Nam Bo, but also are named that as well. So most directions are just given by street name and number rather than a specific name.
The first dish I had, Bun Bo Nam Bo was said to be a beef and noodle dish, and sounded like it would hit the spot. Little did I know that it turned out to be one of the tastiest Asian foods I have ever had. The dish is composed of a mixture of rice noodles, bean sprouts, beef, fried spring onions, cucumber, and herbs while covered in a broth that likely contains massive amount of the three magic Vietnamese sauce ingredients: lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce.
Not knowing of the broth taste, I Was expecting a full and rich meal like normal noodle and meat dishes I had been having in China and Japan. However the first crisp taste of acidity that came into my mouth had me melting in a magical flavor extravaganza. From the looks of it, eating in Vietnam will be one of the best experiences out of any country that I have been to, and as a result I have decreed that the country will henceforth be called under a new name: Vietnom-nom-nom