Are you a fan of bún chả? It’s a big YES for me! Although I’ve never eaten bún chả prior to visiting Hanoi in October 2019, I always knew I’d liked it. True enough, my very first bún chả at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi on our first night in Hanoi had me fall head over heels in love with it. I thought the one at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi was very good. But wow oh wow Bún Chả Hàng Quạt is even better!
Our wonderful brunch spread at Bún Chả Hàng Quạt.
We visited Bún Chả Hàng Quạt for brunch on our day 3 in Hanoi. This place is very old school and unique. This is not a restaurant nor a stall kind of setup. It’s an eatery where its kitchen is located along a narrow alley between the entrance and dining area.
The entrance to Bún Chả Hàng Quạt is on the top right of this photo. As you walk into the alley, you’ll see the olds and youngs prepping, grilling and frying in the kitchen. They are a friendly bunch.
The young uns taking on the heavy-duty work of grilling pork.
Grilled pork anyone? I would like the whole lot on the right, please.
Pre-fried spring rolls. I guess these were grilled judging from the burnt marks on some.
Going deeper, the alley opens up to several homes/stores and a small yard.
You can choose to dine out at the yard or in the home. Not knowing the existence of the home initially, we went for the yard. But even if we know, we would still choose the yard because it’s one of a kind experience.
Unlike the above, we sat on a slightly lower plastic table (love the yellow!). I’m still not comfortable sitting like this while eating as I gotta sit pretty as a lady because I’m dining out. If I am to sit properly on a low stool, I would need more space so that I bend my knees and cross it. Sharing a table this size (practically fit one!!!) between two moderate-sized Asian ladies were quite tough. So can you imagine the ang moh couple that sat beside us using the same sized table?
We arrived somewhere around 10.20am and they were only serving a few customers. But slowly and steadily, the place started to fill up. From what I observed, there were more locals than tourists which is a good thing. Shh… 🤫
There is no menu and since they only serve 1 main and 1 side: bún chả and nem rán (fried spring rolls), ordering is almost a no-brainer. The food arrived at a reasonable time and only the spring rolls take a bit longer.
For the two of us, we ordered two sets of bún chả @ 40,000 VND (~RM7.40) each and 2 pieces of nem rán each @ 15,000 VND (~RM2.80). Total is 110,000 VND (~RM20.35) which is affordable and also cheaper by just a little bit compared to the set we had at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi.
The grilled pork was AMAZING! It’s smoky, very well-seasoned and pairs with everything else like a match made in heaven. The dipping sauce was less vinegary and has a different taste (grilled pork too) than the one at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi but oh so good. The herbs and vegetables are more varied as well. I also love the fried crispy nem rán. All in all, a very tasty lip-smacking meal.
By the end of our brunch, we were stuffed big time. Too bad we didn’t finish the rice vermicelli (bún) and fresh herbs & vegetables. Did I tell you that we had a buffet breakfast at our hotel 2.5 hours earlier? 😛 Btw, I have a feeling the leftover vegetables and rice vermicelli will be recycled for next use as well as I’ve noticed this with other eateries.
Bún Chả Hàng Quạt operates for only 4 short hours. So, make sure you don’t miss it. Go early or just before lunch as lunchtime will be jam-packed and who can guarantee they won’t be sold out at later hours? 😛 Ok, maybe not. I’m probably exaggerating. But, if you only have say 1 or 2 days in Hanoi, would you take the risk?
This place may not be for the faint-hearted traveler as some might find it unhygienic. But I tell you what, go experience it at least once and if you like it then awesome, if not choose another place next time. I can tell you that I love this place. I was a bit unsure at first but its eccentricity and old-world feeling, not to mention their amazing bún chả, won me over very quickly. When I emerged back into real life (I mean came out of the alley), I was like “Woah, I want to go back in and experience everything again!”.
p/s: Our smoky grilled pork-infused clothes were the best souvenir from Hanoi.
Bún Chả Hàng Quạt
Ngõ 74 Hàng Quạt,
Hà Nội, Vietnam
Tel: +84 974 519 846
Opening time: 10.00am-2.00pm, daily