Good Eats in Vietnam

In a new article up at, travel guide book writer Robert Reid gives tips and advice on the best way to eat in Vietnam. Focusing on Hue, Reid shows the best things to eat and where to find them. Reid has written several guide books for Lonely Planet and has set up a free on-line guide to Vietnam. Here’s a selection from the piece.

For 45 cents a bowl, and a shocked crew at Ba Hoa (Truong Dinh St, just east of Hanoi Street) who interfered to mix my bowl when I hadn’t mixed it adequately, it’s hard to not take a chance. I’ve not seen this elsewhere.

Bun bo Hue is one of the city’s most famous exports — and one of the few that reach US Vietnamese restaurants’ weekend menus. Like its more famous cousin pho bo, it’s a beef noodle soup served with a clear beef broth but healthy doses of chili, shrimp paste and a rounded slippery noodle that slips off your chopsticks and sending dots of reddish-brown broth on your shirt.

The best place in town — I heard over and over — is Bun Bo Hue (17 Ly Thuong Kiet St), a block south of Hanoi St. And it’s quite good. Like the other cheapies I found, it’s a simple concrete-floor, open-front place, with aluminum tables and trash thrown on the floor. The bowls are prepared up front — just order, sit and await the bowl (about 50 cents).

Hue takes Buddhism a bit more seriously here than most of Vietnam — with more monasteries than anywhere else, and the nation’s most famous monks. Famously in 1963, Thich Quang Duc drove to Saigon to protest anti-Buddhist policies of the South Vietnamese government and set himself on fire on a Saigon street.

Beyond the pagodas nowadays, where robed monks and apprentices break in the afternoon for volleyball games you’re welcome to join, Hue’s vegetarian scene is more developed than anywhere else in the country.

Com chay, or vegetarian food, places pop up on riverside locations and alleys. The best though is right in the heart of the backpacker ghetto (of sorts).

Tinh Tam Restaurant (24 Chu Van An St), run by a Buddhist family, serves fake meats — the grilled ‘deer’ with lemongrass is superb, and only $1.50; as is the mixed fig salad served with fake-shrimp cakes to scoop it up (60 cents) — that attract monks and a few Lonely Planet holders.

You can read the rest of Reid’s advice at