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The Street Food Hue Scene – Good, bad and very ugly

The centrally located former imperial city of Hue is known its influence on Vietnam’s cuisine. Therefore along with its tourist attractions, I was very much up for seeing what the Street Food Hue scene was like.

What the Hue?

Aside from food Hue is also famous as being the former capital of Vietnam, as well as housing the royal family, their tombs, as well the former imperial city. Being centrally located it was also an integral area when the country was divided into North and South.

Since the 1990’s though it has been less about communism and more about dragging in foreign visitors to enjoy the sites and of course spend all of their money.

Eating and drinking in Hue

When you touch down on walking street in Hue, you would be forgiven for thinking that Hue was in fact just tourist town, with bars nightclubs, hippy restaurants and services for travelers dominating the area.

This is of course perfect if you want to party with comforting “safe” food, but not so great if you want something more authentic and indeed some Hue Street Food. Thankfully and like most other Vietnamese cities, there is much more to the Hue story once you begin to explore.

That is not to say there is anything wrong with the tourist part, in fact there are lots of great restaurants serving local food, as well as bars, such as The DMZ Bar that are worth your time. Alas realistically this is where all the hotels are, so you will most likely find yourself eating here at least some of the time.

Finding the Street Food Hue scene

Despite having THE best street food in the world finding information about street food in Vietnam can often be hard work. For me ay least this rendered my online search somewhat useless, with me having to “go rogue” in order to find the best places.

And much like I had experienced in Da Nang the answer was a pure combination if the markets of Hue, good old fashioned street carts, as well as hole in the wall restaurants located in the tourist areas and beyond.

Hue Street Food dishes vary greatly, much like in other parts of the country, but with there being a few that not only originated in Hue, but according to the locals are best done here. Chief among these of course being Bún bò Huế, a dish enjoyed nationwide.

Street Food Hue Markets

Another red herring as per the online information was the “many” markets of Hue, all of which supposedly offered Hue street food to some degree. I pretty much checked them all out, with it being a very mixed bag of tricks.

Some such as the Walking Street Street Food I will leave out entirely, as they little more than a few stands, while other markets in the city deserve more Street Food Hue credit.

To warn you though, some guides list 5-8 and even 12 markets that you must visit in Hue. Now while I get they are just trying to promote the city, there are not that many markets in Hue that are worth visiting…..

Dong Ba Market – The most famous Hue market

As we are told the most famous market in Hue, but that mean there is good street food here? Well I can only judge a horse on the races that is has run, but overall I was not that impressed here, although I did arrive affray late.

Apparently if you come here early enough then there is a lot to choose from, but after 9 it would seem less so. The Hue street food vendors here were at least a little less pushy than in other area, with the offerings mostly being Vietnamese BBQ, shell fish, as well as the Banh Xeo range, which seems to be a big deal here. Not epic, but did it deliver on the street feed Hue scene? Yes it did.

An Cuu Market

Quite simply the biggest disappointment of my street food Hue adventures. Accruing to one post on Vinpearl this was where all the cool students came for cheap eats.

Again maybe it was a thing that you should visit earlier, but at 8.30 pm at least all there were was fruit and flower sellers, as well as one woman serving Banh Mi. To give her credit though it was fabulous Banh Mi and knocked the shot out of similar that I have had in Saigon, or Phnom Penh (Num Pang). What made it so great was the fully flavoured pork that was even a tiny bit greasy.

Tay Loc Market

Ironically probably the best street food in Hue, or at least that I had, despite the fact this is not exactly a street food market. In fact what had drawn me here (from the same site) was that it was a secondhand market for “all kinds of things”.

In fact it was a second hand market for clothes alone, which was cool as I got some, but for the most part this was a real Vietnamese market selling everything from utensils to fresh fruit and veg, as well as live animals.

In the middle though was a big street food Hue area, which unlike An Cuu actually seemed to attract students looking for cheap eats. I will not go into huge detail as this market will get its own article, but the street eats here were good.

This included Vietnamese fish cakes reminiscent of Songvak in Cambodia, as well as Vietnamese balut, almost as good as in Saigon where it came with tamarind.

It was though also with the street drinks that I was somewhat blown away, these included one of the best sugar cane juices I have had, as well as a weird frozen yoghurt drink that you drink quite literally through the bag,

So, while the Hue Markets did not exactly blow me away, they did certainly do a job.

Street food Hue restaurants

Of course though there is always more to a street food scene in Hue, or elsewhere than a few markets and tourist traps, which was the case with this city. This was manifest with the number of real local restaurants situated even in the tourist areas. These offered all the dishes you would expect, but while also having a focus on the specialities of Hue.

This means that pretty much every restaurant serves Bong Bo Hue, a famous national dish that originated in this town. Was it the best bong bo Hue I have had? Probably not, but it was certainly the most authentic.

Street Food Hue on the actual streets……

An if all else fails? Well Hue like any city in Vietnam has its tourist areas and its normal areas. Said normal areas are not set up for tourists, but instead have street vendors come out to create the real street food in Hue.

That much like any city is where you get your true street food Hue jollies….