Tu-esday Foodspot: Bún bò Huế

First restaurant review!!! Yay!

The other day, my dad and I decided to have some quality time together and grab dinner. We went to Eden Center, which is a shopping center centered around the Vietnamese community in the DMV area. Here, you can find a plethora of small businesses ranging from family-run restaurants to jewelry stores. As a Vietnamese-American, this place has a special place in my heart. I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember. I remember coming here to buy myself cute stationary at the toy store then stop buy a bakery to get an avocado smoothie. I pretty much grew up here.

Nowadays, Eden Center is a hotspot for a quality Vietnamese meal. Today, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite meals: Bún bò Huế (BBH).

To break it down, the first word, “bún,” means “rice noodle.” “” means “beef.” Finally, Huế is the former capital of Vietnam. The broth is prepared by boiling together beef bones, lemongrass, and fermented shrimp sauce, or “mắm ruốc.” Together, these flavors marry together to create a perfect balance of savory, sweet, sour, and spicy. A bowl of BBH is usually topped with big chunks of beef shank, pork knuckles, pork blood, and chả (pork sausage slice). I personally really like eating the pork knuckles because of how gelatinous the joints are. And, if cooked right, the skin is the perfect texture where it snaps in your mouth when you bite it.

SO GOOD….!!!

Anyway, I never really had amazing BBH other than when it’s homemade. Some places make the lemongrass flavor too strong, other places the broth is too sweet. Then, there are the restaurants that overcook the meat. I almost gave up trying to find a restaurant with good BBH until my sister’s boyfriend recommended me this restaurant called Kien Giang Quan. I’m not sure what that translates to in English, but all I know is that they serve AMAZING food. I mean…LOOK AT THIS:

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My sister’s boyfriend recommended me to try this place because they’re known for their BBH. I asked my dad about it, and he said that the restaurant is pretty popular amongst the Vietnamese community despite how small it is. There were probably about eight tables that could seat two to four people each.

My dad and I arrived at the restaurant around 6:50 PM, so we expected it to be busy. About four of the tables were taken, so it was quite busy for them. The waiter was very friendly to us, maybe because he knew my dad, and served us tea. He quickly took our orders and went to the kitchen to place them. My dad and I were talking for no more than 5 minutes and our food, including the vegetable condiments, was already out. Service was A+ here.

Before I dive into this, let me just show you how my BBH looked like when it came out:

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DOES THAT NOT LOOK DELICIOUS TO YOU?

I added some bean sprouts, sliced banana blossom, and a squeeze of lime just because I like getting mouthfuls of vegetables. This bowl of BBH just screams flavor. When I tried the broth, it had the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and spicy. Every spoonful of soup I tasted made me want more. You can really tell how much love and labor the chef put into making this broth. I don’t usually finish the entire bowl, but this time, I slurped up every last drop.

Let’s talk about the contents in the bowl.

First off, the meat. They had medium rare beef slices in here as well as beef shank, both incredibly tender and flavorful. There was also the pork knuckle, which was at the bottom of my bowl. Unfortunately, it was only a fraction of the knuckle, but it was still delicious. It had the perfect gelatinous texture that I love so much and the skin wasn’t chewy at all and had a nice bite to it. I only wish I had more!

I’m a huge fan of noodles. If I were to choose between noodles and rice, I’d choose noodles in a heartbeat. There’s something about slurping noodles that is so satisfying. Anyone else think this way?

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If this picture of noodles doesn’t look appetizing to you, I don’t know what does. These noodles are my favorite kind of noodle. It’s not too thin like pho noodles, but not as thick and heavy as egg noodles. They were perfectly cooked and had the right amount of softness. I believe that Asian noodles should be cooked a little bit past al dente. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t seem right to cook it when it’s still hard in the center. I think it defeats the purpose of how easy it is to eat noodles.

After eating this, you feel full, but not disgustingly stuffed. My mom always told me that Vietnamese cuisine should never make you feel that way. You should leave the restaurant feeling content. Fun fact: did you know that Vietnamese food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world? With every dish, there is a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Like any other food, you should appreciate what’s in front of you rather than focus on making yourself full. Both my dad and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I wasn’t even able to try his because he ate it all! I would definitely recommend anyone who wants to try real BBH.

Don’t go anywhere else in Eden Center – come here to try it.

You definitely won’t be disappointed.

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