Bun Thang – Culinary Arts of Hanoi

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Bun thang (“Ladder” soft noodle soup – Bún Thang)  is typical dish for Culinary Arts of Hanoi. It is said that Hanoi cuisine is very picky, subtle, and it is also true with Bun Thang.

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Bun thang in Hanoi cuisine

Part of the attraction of this dish is that it is not so easy to find and so one doesn’t get to taste it everyday. Moreover, Bun Thang might taste delicious in one place but not necessarily be as good somewhere else.

“Bun”, of course, is the Vietnamese word for round rice noodles, “thang” is a word of Chinese origin that literally means “a soup”, but the word also means “ladder” in Vietnamese. People say that eating Bun Thang is like climbing a ladder – just as you go up a ladder one step at a time, you eat one bowl after another of this delicious soup. Bun Thang, then, has little to do with any ordinary soup or potage such as snake-headed mullet soup and water dropwort soup, or with the soup made of crab paste, nep-tunia and water morning-glory.

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When it can be served

In some families, there are old women who know how to make a mouth-watering Bun Thang – what a pity they show their skill only once or twice a year, after the first three days of Tet.

People often have a party serving bun thang on the 4th or 5th day of the Tet holiday. When one feels tired of the square sticky rice cake or greasy food like pork pie, spring roll, trotter stew, meat pie, Bun Thang is the ideal dish. This delicacy satisfies all the requirements for an interesting soup full of sour, hot, and tasty flavors without being heavy or greasy. Like other kinds of noodle soup, this delicacy uses similar ingredients: round rice noodles blanched briefly in boiling water, broth, some protein, spices, etc. However, to make it perfect requires particularly strict and rigorous cooking techniques. A savory bowl of Bun Thang depends first and foremost on Thang or broth. Bun Thang must be ranked highly among the culinary specialties of Vietnam.

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