Ramen vs. Bun Cha

Vietnamese article / Bài viết tiếng Việt

I always feel guilty about my laziness in writing to share my food journey. Last week, I started thinking about an idea of showing food culture diversity in Hanoi, by a series of Non-Vietnamese dish/restaurant vs. Vietnamese dish/restaurant. I choose them randomly, without idea of comparing, however, two dishes/restaurants in one post should share a similarity.

First post of this series, as you can see, is about two popular noodles: Ramen, and Bun Cha 🙂


RAMEN

My Oshi 03 – No. 3, Le Dai Hanh, Hai Ba Trung District

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Although my love is fully for Soba, I still have few of my favorite Ramen places in Hanoi. However, most of them are pretty “expensive” comparing to average Vietnamese food budget (over 120,000 VND/bowl), so I choose My Oshi 03 as first start of the series: it doesn’t break the bank if you are Ramen fan, and it is pretty yummy.

Both first floor and second floor looks neat and simple, bright wooden table brings warmness. Oshi 03’s ramen pictures are hang around, together with many Japanese words which I need to go with someone who knows Japanese to tell me the meaning 😀

Second floor has seats in front of the window, however, you cannot see the street because big tree and porch block the view. I especially love Oshi’s spacious and bright rooms, coming here during daytime is best 🙂

MENU: I uploaded whole menu in here

FOOD

To the most important part: ramen. Menu is interesting because each ramen is divided into two types: Japanese (with 160gr of noodles, higher price – only 5,000 VND different), and Vietnamese (with 100gr of noodles, cabbage and bean sprouts as side dish). My friend ordered Shoyu Ramen, and I got Ebi Shio Ramen. Visually, two bowls looked almost same with meat, hanjuku egg, kamaboko (fish cake), and scallion, only the broth color was different, and my bowl had small two shrimps.

Shoyu broth had a soy sauce base with a brown color and significant aroma. I tried a spoon of the broth, the flavor was there but less sharp than other shoyu ramen I had tried before, it was more delicate and pleasant for me somehow.

Shio – 塩 – means salt, menu said restaurant uses Vietnamese sea salt and special shrimp soy sauce for this dish. Saltiness was light, with the hint of the sea from shrimps. I sincerely wished pork slices could magically turn into fish slices, so I could fulfill my feeling of the sea in my mouth 😀 Amount of noodles was more than my friend’s, which made me accomplish my lunch fully 😉 Noodles here is made by the owner/chef, a Japanese guy. It was fresh, soft, chewy and resilient when confronted with hot broth.

Overall: noodles was a star in the bowl, the broth was pretty good but not harmonious/deep, not impressive enough. It is budget-friendly for ones who like eating ramen frequently. If you rarely eat and seek for one-of-a-kind experience, I would recommend other places I think. I will come back to try their special ramen and other dishes.

Moreover, I read somewhere about the Japanese owner who loves Vietnam and created a fusion dish between Pho and Japanese noodles (don’t remember whether it is Ramen or not). It is sad to not seeing that dish in menu, maybe I should ask him next time? 😉

One more tip: If you are Ramen fan, or like watching movies about food (like me!), I highly recommend “Tampopo” movie (thanks Eater for reminding me about “this love letter to ramen”)


BUN CHA

Corner of Nguyen Khac Nhu and Hang Bun, Ba Dinh District

Opening time: 10am to 2pm

This bun cha stall is typical street food type with plastic stools and tables, and only opened during noon time. If you come early when it is not crowded, you can sit at the table where the lady owner prepares bun cha, near grilling area, and see how they do it. I only come here when the weather is not too hot because their fans cannot prevent me from sweating, though we have a huge tree above us, gives lots of shade  😀

FOOD

Pork here is separated into three types: regular cha mieng (grilled pork pieces), cha bam (grilled pork patties), and special cha la lot (grilled pork wraps in piper lolot leaves). I love the fact that pork is charcoal-grilled with bamboo skewers. It has been traditional way of doing it in years, however, not many bun cha places do it anymore, it becomes extinct. Iron skewers are obviously easier to be cleaned and used daily (bamboo skewers are one-time use).

It is best to use fresh bamboo skewers because the flavor of fresh bamboo will blend with flavor of meat in grilling. Dried ones cannot exceed the flavor game.

Bun cha’s sauce in here is a bit too sweet. I admit that I come here for the pork “cha”, more than the sauce. It needs lots of adjustment to suit my taste 🙂

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