“What would you like to have?” I asked my friend, who visited Huế for the first time, when we both sat down on the plastic chairs at Quán Cẩm – a famous only-one-dish restaurant on Trần Cao Vân Str. Quán Cẩm only serves Bún (vermicelli) and only for breakfast.
“Bún Bò Huế (Huế-style vermicelli with beef). Didn’t you say we were going to have Bún Bò Huế?” My friend asked me in return with a little bit surprise in her voice.
“True. But what kinds of Bún Bò Huế would you like? They have many choices for you here: rare beef, well-done beef, pig’s trot, meat balls, boiled congealed ox blood, etc. Their specialty is crab-meat balls.”
Seeing that my friend being still confused, I added: “I guess, originally, they only serve Bún Bò but later on they add in more ingredients to serve different tastes. Bún Bò Huế is still the most favorite so people use it to call bún in general which is cooked with Huế style.”
“I see. So what is your recommendation?” My friend beamed at me.
“My favorite bowl of bún includes rare beef, crab-meat balls, and boiled congealed ox blood,” I replied and directed my friend toward the giant pot of the steamy broth on the stove which was not very far away from us. I urged my friend: “Look inside and choose what you like from there.”
Madam Cẩm, the owner of the restaurant, often uses a long-handle ladle stirring the broth gently and then “catches” some pieces of meat to show the customers so that they can choose what they want.
For rare beef, Madam Cẩm picks up some thin slices of juicy and fresh beef with the chopsticks, and put the beef in the ladle she is holding in her left hand. After that, she scoops some boiling broth with the ladle with the beef inside, and then lets the ladle half sinking in the broth for a while (maybe one minute or so) to “cook” the beef. Then, she pours the whole thing in the vermicelli.
I always add raw veggies and herbs, chilly sauce and lime juice to my Bún Bò to make it more tasty. The chilly sauce and the herbs make the Bún Bò less fatty. Bún bò is my favorite breakfast and I only want to have it at Quán Cẩm. The best time to have Bún Bò at Quán Cẩm is around 8 am when the broth is more tasty and still very fresh. You can also have Bún Bò at Quán Phụng on Nguyễn Du Str. which is about one km away from Đông Ba Market and it opens all day.