When we finally got off the train at Hue, we were ravenous. To sooth our empty stomachs, Google recommended us to a traditional restaurant in Hue which was well-rated by locals. As we were walking there, we noticed that multiple eateries were located in the vicinity and so did little coffee shops. It served to reinforce our thinking that coffee-drinking was a quintessential part of Vietnamese culture. What surprised us however, was the Central Vietnamese food we had at Bo Hoa. Here’s why you should visit Ba Hoa for authentic Vietnamese food in Hue.
When we first entered the restaurant, we were a little lost as to what to order. Our typical favourites Pho Bo and Bánh_mì were not on the menu. So we used the ‘we’ll have what he’s having’ approach. We ordered Cơm hến and what seems to be the dry yellow noodle version called Mì Hến. (Anyway if you’re curious to find out what other types of ‘hến’s there are, Cháo hến is the porridge version, while Bún Hến refers to the white noodle version.)
We scanned the premises for what others were eating, and requested for similar dishes. On the selection of noodles, we could indicate our preference by pointing. Simple.
Ba Hoa is a simple family owned restaurant which interestingly, is opened 24 hours a day, according to Google. The first floor is the restaurant while the second story leads to the owner’s home. I notice that this is a common practice among most restaurants in central Vietnam – to have one’s living quarters above the restaurant. I would personally would find that quite disturbing especially if there isn’t a door to protect my home from outsiders. When we arrived it was close to 2pm and the shop was not crowded.
As for the toilet – it’s a the squatting version. When I used it, it was wet, but clean. Could have just been washed.
Bún bò Huế
We were used to traditional pho bo (beef rice noodle soup), but this was something different. It was slightly spicy and there were sweet and slightly acidic notes. Which was a great balanced. The meat was tender and I was glad for the generous garnishing of spring onions and leek.
This was probably the most delicious Vietnamese salad I’ve had. The combination of greens, broken rice and garnishing were so delicious that we couldn’t stop with just a single mouthful. The texture was just great – an added crunch with bits of peanut, shreds of vegetable and grains of rice.
Mì Hến (yellow noodle version of Cơm hến)
The noodle version was equally delicious. I preferred the rice version a little more due to the texture. The rice version was more like a salad, and you get a better mouth-feel of the other ingredients in your mouth, such as the vegetables and peanuts.
We ordered ice-coffee, only to realise that it’s pre-made from a packet. (There were boxes on display at one of their glass cupboards). That said, it must have been a really good packet, because it tasted quite home-made.
In terms of pricing, I think the bowl of Com Hen and Mi Hen were about 40,000 dong/ SGD 2.30/ USD1.80 each. The Bun Bo Hue might have been 50,000 dong / SGD 3/ USD2.30 due to the additional ingredients in the soup. The three bowls and coffees set us back by less than SGD10/ USD7.60 and we were full.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
Well I don’t have much of a benchmark for Central Vietnamese food, but I think the food at Ba Hoa could be as good as it gets. I suppose if you were to visit high-end restaurants, they might beef up the dishes with more ingredients (no pun intended). During my research for the article ‘Seven types of Vietnamese food to try in Central Vietnam’, I found many pictures with the same dishes embellished with more expensive ingredients. That post is coming up, stay tune!
All I can say is that I didn’t know what to expect of Central Vietnamese cuisine and I was pleasantly surprised. My palate is inclined to stronger flavours and I do appreciate a dose of spice from time to time. Therefore, do visit Ba Hoa for authentic Vietnamese food in Hue – it’s a nondescript family owned restaurant, which serves simple food well-done. : )
Visit Ba Hoa for authentic Vietnamese food in Hue
- Address: 11 Trương Định, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
- Tripadvisor: Link