Hanoi | eating guide

Independent reviews and recommendations by Rusty Compass. No advertorial, no paid placements and no sponsored content.

Bun Cha Huong Lien - aka. Bun Cha Obama


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Bun Cha Huong Lien - aka. Bun Cha Obama
24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phạm Đình Hồ, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam
+84 4 3943 4106
Morning till dinner

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Price guide: $$

Our rating
15 Feb 2017

Bun Cha Huong Lien, aka, Bun Cha Obama, looks set to become a Hanoi shrine to the Obama presidency. It was already a popular local eatery serving one of Hanoi's favourite dishes, bun cha, before President Obama visited with Anthony Bourdain in 2016.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Once all a traveller needed to do to establish culinary cred in Hanoi, was down a bowl of pho or two, and try the famously greasy cha ca and its pungent purple mam tom sauce.

For over a decade now though, bun cha has been added to the Hanoi essentials list. And after Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama slurped their way through one of the city's favourite dishes at Bun Cha Huong Lien in May 2016, its standing is sealed.

These days, Bun Cha Huong Lien is just as likely to be referred to as Bun Cha O-Ba-Ma.

A Bourdain visit is a big deal for any eatery. His endorsements transformed banh mi Phuong in Hoi An, and the Lunch Lady in Saigon. Add the Obama star power, and it's going to be interesting to watch the evolution of bun cha Huong Lien. It's already increased its opening hours.

During our recent visits, almost all the diners were locals - even they may be swayed by the Bourdain - Obama magic. One young diner was wearing a T-shirt that read "Take pride in America".

Bun Cha Obama is slightly away from Hanoi’s tourist quarter, so it’s likely to remain dependent on local trade - even as tourist numbers grow. That should keep the place on its culinary toes.

Tourists may be surprised to discover that all the attention hasn't lifted the service game at Bun Cha Huong Lien. This is a typical Hanoi local eatery in respect of staff attitude. Don't expect a warm reception.

As Trumptastrophe unfolds or unravels, Bun Cha Huong Lien looks likely to become a little Hanoi shrine of Obama nostalgia. It's difficult to imagine The Donald sitting down here. And it seems unlikely he'll be receiving invitations from Mr Bourdain.

Bun cha is a noodle dish (bun) with grilled pork patties (cha) served with a tasty fish sauce based broth, and herbs. It's available all over the city - usually on the street. Look out of the “bun cha” signs.


Disclosure
We like and we miss Barack Obama. We like bun cha too. We paid for our bun cha and received no inducement of any kind for this recommendation.

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Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.

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