When talking about the noodles in Vietnam, there is such a massive variety throughout the country, like Phở, Bún Riêu,... But in each city, there is always one noodle dish that is considered to be the signature of that area. If you come to Saigon, that would be Hủ Tiếu. If you come to Hue, that would be the beloved Bún Bò Huế. And when you come to the capital city of Hanoi - you cannot say that you have been there without having tasted Bún Thang.
The Hanoi locals is renowned to be conservative when it comes to traditional food - they are strict on how it should be done. Bún Thang can be said to be a true reflection of Hanoian due to it complex recipe. Nowadays, though many other dishes (from other regions of Vietnam or abroad) has come to Hanoi, Bún Thang still holds the prime position when it comes to true finesse and is beloved by many gastronomes in Hanoi.
Although the dish is widely known among pop culture - not many people know how to recreate the true taste of the traditional Bún Thang. To make Bún Thang, it would take 12 different ingredients (vermicelli, chicken, egg, Vietnamese sausage, shrimp floss, scallion, Vietnamese coriander, pickled daikon, mushroom,...) and all of them have high standards that chefs needs to comply with. For example, the chicken has to be the Vietnamese breed, thinly slice with a piece of that yellow, creamy skin on top. The egg needs to be a fine-cut golden chicken omelette. Even though the ingredients of Bún Thang is not rare or expensive, every one of them has to be prepared with top quality - to ensure the flavour of the dish.
The hardest component of the dish, however, is the broth. The base of the broth is usually made out of chicken stock, but some street food stall also added dried shrimp. In the past, chefs used the Belostomatidae to enhance the flavour of the broth, but now, due to its rarity, it would be hard to see the appearance of this unique ingredient. To ensure the best quality, the stock needs to be simmered for hours. It will be a success if the broth of the Bún Thang is light, clear and flavorful.
When served, Bún Thang resembles a colored painting thanks to its many ingredients. From the white color coming from the vermicelli, yellow from the egg, green from the Vietnamese coriander,... everything match with each other to create a symphony of colors. With all ingredients carefully put together in a bowl, added with the flavorful broth and a touch of shrimp paste - your Bún Thang is now done, ready to be served!
In the end, throughout its 1000 years of history, throughout many ups and downs over time Bún Thang still represents the essence of Hanoi - both in looks and taste. To savor this dish is like to savor a work of art! This surely is the best that Hanoi can offer and surely a dish that tourists can never forget!