Hue is the secret king of Vietnamese cuisine, says Robert Reid in G Adventures. Of Vietnam’s 2,700 dishes, nearly two-thirds hail from this former royal capital (from 1802 to 1945) where “nervous chefs churned out dishes as part of a rotating mix of 52-course meals for the kings.” And very few of the dishes have ever been served outside Hue, says Reid.
With such a rich history, the city claims several distinctive dishes, explains Food Republic -- “from small and delicate creations originally created to please the appetites of Nguyen feudal lords, emperors (and their hundreds of wives) — to lusty, fiery street-level soups and sausages with complex, explosive and satisfying flavors.” There’s a local craze for “dainty, flower-like dumplings and cakes such as banh beo, which aesthetically owe much to China and Japan”, says Peter Jon Lindberg in Travel and Leisure, who was “knocked out by Hue’s other specialties, from com hen (a spicy clam-and-rice concoction) to banh khoai (a fajita-size rice-flour crêpe similar to the Southern favorite banh xeo).” And that’s not forgetting bun bo Hue, “the city’s signature dish,” says Lindberg: “a fiery broth of long-simmered beef bones, suffused with lemongrass and stained red from chiles, ladled over a bowlful of umami: paper-thin strips of beef, crab-and-pork meatballs, pig’s trotters, and huyet—quivering cubes of congealed pig’s blood.”
Food in Hue is “meticulously prepared,” says Momentum, “although the people are generally poorer and tend to make do with whatever ingredients they can get their hands on.” Bun bo Hue bò is the city’s “famous and delicious breakfast bowl of lemongrass beef and pork noodle soup that’s served with the fattest rice vermicelli”that sometimes measures more than 1.8mm. “Somehow it only tastes right with thicker noodles, which were meant to keep Hue residents fuller for longer.”