There has been many a questionable western riff on Vietnamese food, but what about the reverse? The banh mi is undoubtedly the most fabled such snack; a beautiful reworking of the French baguette to create a, now, classic sandwich. A lesser known sampling of western cuisine is the Vietnamese take on that dish of the gods that is steak, egg and chips, or as the Vietnamese call it: Bit tet.
Usually served sizzling on a cast iron hot plate, Bit tet is an epic hunger-busting dish that for many will go some way to satisfying cravings from food back home, but still give the pleasure of eating sidewalk style in the tradition of the best Vietnamese street food.
The dish usually but not always includes a piping hot steak, a fried egg, some fries, a baguette and even a cheeky side salad, and is the sort of meal you can imagine being equally enjoyed by students, builders before a hard day’s work, backpackers trying sober up after a night on the sauce and, well, pretty much anyone really.
The tyranny of choice gets us all down from time to time, and one of the beauties of a Bit tet joint is that they tend to only serve one dish. There’s no awkward, tiresome musing on the menu. You just sit down and wait for your steak and eggs. Choosing your drink is the only thing you have to worry about, and let’s be honest, it’s probably going to beer.
It goes without saying that this is not a particularly healthy dish; it usually comes swimming in grease and a delicious gravy that tastes like something between a beef tallow and oyster sauce though it varies from place to place. Meat lovers get double their money as on top of the steak it usually comes with a strip of meat loaf which ranges between tasty sausage right down to something not a millions miles away from Foie gras. Though it should be noted that when we say steak, we are not talking prime rib here. It is a invariably a cheapish cut of meat, but has been thoroughly tenderized, so is not remotely tough.
Bit tet places are dotted throughout Hanoi, but Chào tends to head to Hòe Nhai street in Ba Dinh District as the whole street is full of them. Well, there at least four anyway. Our favorite is Bít Tết Ngon, where the full meal in all its greasy glory will set you back 85,000 VND, but we have seen it for as cheap as 45,000 VND, which is insanely good value for what you get.
Bít Tết Ngon
20A Hòe Nhai, Ba Dinh