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Inside a Bún Chả Restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Bún chả is a kind of institution in Hanoi. Certain Vietnamese dishes – things like egg coffee and snake wine – are delicacies. People don’t really have them all that often. Bún chả, on the other hand, is eaten daily by hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Here’s a look inside a famous bún chả restaurant in Hanoi.

Hùng Lẩu – Bún Chả & Nem

Mrs. Hằng’s restaurant, Hùng Lẩu – Bún Chả & Nem, has seen a lot of history. But as the country undergoes massive change, Hùng Lẩu remains grounded on a foundation of taste and reputation. For years, Hùng Lẩu has been rated by online food websites as one of the best restaurants in Hanoi. Many newer places go overboard on the decor and accessories, but bún chả, above all else, relies on quality ingredients. Customers can easily spot any shortcuts, which is part of the reason why Hùng Lẩu continues to succeed after all these years.

In addition to the food itself, Hùng Lẩu has benefited from its amazing location – just short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Mrs. Hằng inherited the business from her husband’s mother 26 years ago. Back then, foreigners weren’t as common a sight as they are today. Mrs. Hằng told us that she’s happy to see foreigners come to her restaurant. She’s also proud of the fact that people from all over Vietnam come to eat at Hùng Lẩu when they visit Hanoi.

Street view of Hung Lau Bun Cha – Nem © Culture Trip
Mrs.Hang preparing the grilled pork © Culture Trip

Hanoi’s Bun Cha

For the uninitiated, bún chả is grilled fatty pork in a broth, with sweet and sour papaya and a bed of rice vermicelli – and usually, but not always, some pork-filled fried spring rolls – called Nem – which are a specialty at Hùng Lẩu.

Nem: pork spring rolls © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Nem and papaya © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Rice vermicelli at Hung Lau © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Chili and garlic © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Bun Cha at Hung Lau in Hanoi © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip

Mrs.Hằng — Owner and Operator

Perched at the entrance, there’s no mistaking that this is Mrs. Hằng’s restaurant. She greets the customers at the entrance and prepares the dishes herself. With her level of involvement, it’s easy to see how Hùng Lẩu has maintained its fame despite the changes around them: Mrs. Hằng has bún chả down to an art.

Mrs.Hang at Hung Lau in Hanoi © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
The broth going into the pork at Hung Lau in Hanoi © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
The perfect Bun Cha © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Bun Cha at Hung Lau in Hanoi © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip
Happy customers at Hung Lau in Hanoi © Vu Pham Van / Culture Trip