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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eat This: Turtle Tower's Bun Cha Hanoi

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Bun Cha Hanoi: a Northern Vietnamese Treat. - OMAR MAMOON
  • Omar Mamoon
  • Bun Cha Hanoi: a Northern Vietnamese Treat.

Turtle Tower specializes in Northern Vietnamese cuisine and is well known for its large, soul-warming bowls of pho. But if you can manage to set your sights and stomachs past the noodle soup section of the menu, you’ll find that it also serves bun cha Hanoi, a dish of consisting of cold rice noodles (bun) and grilled pork (cha). This dish is typically eaten during lunch in Vietnam, but you can and should get it regardless of meal time at Turtle Tower.

The dish consists of a bowl full of sliced pork shoulder and pork patties grilled over wooden charcoal. The meat imparts its smokiness and fattiness into a sweet and vinegary broth, creating a harmony of flavors on the palate. It’s topped with crunchy pieces of lightly pickled carrots and green papaya. There is also a plate full of cold vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce leaves, as well as some bright green sprigs of cilantro and mint.

The dish’s separated components make it confusing to eat at first. Though you may be tempted to make wraps out of it, the proper way to eat bun cha is to first dip a chopstick full of noodles into the meat broth, then place the noodles into the empty bowl (not pictured above). Next, top the noodles with a couple pieces of pork, the pickled carrots and/or green papaya, and a few tears of cilantro, mint, and lettuce. Consume, and repeat. Add some sriracha for some heat, if desired.

It may seem like a lot of work, but bun cha Hanoi is worth every bite. 

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Omar Mamoon


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