Hanoi inspires many thoughts, but if you are hungry there is often only one thing that pops into the minds of foreigners and locals alike: bun cha, a traditional Vietnamese dish of grilled fatty pork served in a delicious sauce with a plate of rice noodles and a mix of herbs.
The genesis of bun cha occurred right here in Hanoi at a restaurant in the Hoan Kiem District in the Old Quarter. Since its birth, the delectable dish, loved by almost all, has spread across Hanoi. In 1959, the Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang described Hanoi as a town “transfixed by bun cha.”
One restaurant that every bun cha lover should try is Friends Bar, off to the side of the busy street of Au Co. Tender pork, savory meatballs, a sauce with all the right spices and a plate of fresh noodles and herbs: all for a mere 30,000 VND. The restaurant is also known for their delicious nem ran, or fried spring rolls (10,000 VND per roll), which make an excellent side to dip into the bun cha sauce.
They offer other dishes, but everyone comes for the bun cha and nem ran. Although, if you are vegetarian and joining your friends there, the restaurant makes a tasty egg banh mi and chips.
It is not flashy and does not have a ton of seating, but that adds to the traditional Vietnamese charm. You can sit at the bar or tables either indoors (no smoking) or outdoors. They serve a variety of sodas and beers, including the cheap much-famed 1 liter Nada beer. Great bun cha means the restaurant has no reason to be ostentatious, and it is stylish in its simplicity. Friends Bar is a great place to gorge on Hanoi’s traditional dish any time of day.
53 Âu Cơ, Tứ Liên, Tây Hồ
+84 97 948 96 22
8 a.m.-10 p.m.