Bun Bo Nam Bo (Hanoi)
67 Hang Dieu, Hanoi, Vietnam
This hole in the wall had a facelift but to first time comers, its still a hole in the wall and quite frankly with food like this it should always be a hole in the wall. This place churns out just one dish and they do it better then anywhere else and that is why its packed. If it is empty, it means that they just finsihed a rush, you can tell by the amount of rubbish on the floor. This dish exeplifies the simplicity and sophitication of Vietnamese food better then any, and for me, it was love at first bite. It works. The dish is a masterpiece which is served in a bowl about the same size as the Japanese donburi dish. Thinly slices of beef are marinated in garlic then flashed fried in a wok imparting slight smokiness and then tossed with bean sprouts until they are semi cooked. A light sweet and sour beef broth is splashed in and poured over chilled rice noodles which sits on top of mixed salads and herbs. The dish is then garnished with pickeled penny sized carrots, green papaya, chopped toasted peanuts and deep fried slivers of cripsy shallots adding contrasting textures and flavours. The heat of the broth at the bottom of the bowl wilts the salad & herbs and the idea is to mix it all up. The tables are dressed with bare necessities like the customery chopsticks and Chinese spoons as well as condiments like pickled chili, a chili sauce and some napkins. You can add the additional condiments but its better to see what the dish is like all by its lonesome self before you start messing with it. Textures of contrasting flavours, tempertatures and flavours with each passing bite makes for a wonderful simple dining experience that is worth the wait as well 20 minute sitting on low uncomfortable bench and or stools.