This historic city, just off the central coast, served as the capital of Viet Nam for nearly 150 years, developing a stately cuisine to treat the ruling Nguyen Dynasty. Today, Hue (hway) is better known as the home of The Citadel and the site of the 1968 Tet Offensive, but it is still widely revered for serving some of the best food in Vietnam.
As in most of Asia, the tastiest and most authentic meals are often found at local stalls and street kitchens. Along the streets surrounding and within the gates of The Citadel there are numerous excellent choices for a quick lunch or dinner.
- Lac Thien (6 Dinh Tien Hoang) is a favorite in most guidebooks for a reason. Their version of the classic Bun Bo Hue is delectable with a deep beef broth, rice noodles, beef and a lingering bite from the chili. The prices are reasonable, the food is good and the service is top-notch.
- Tan Huong Sen (96B Nguyen Trai) is a popular spot with locals, set out on a small lagoon, complete with a bamboo bridge. The setting is perfect for a romantic dinner or simply to watch the other diners-in-love.
- Huyen Anh (52/1 Kim Long)features only two dishes: banh uot thit nuong and bun thit nuong. Locals love this place for good reason.
Cross the Perfume River and you'll find plenty of restaurants catering to the travelers who fill the guesthouses and hotels that abound here. Like most tourists, we stayed in a hotel here and were able to try out plenty of restaurants in the neighboring blocks. Here are a few recommendations:
- La Boulangerie (20 Hung Vuong) serves the best pastries in Vietnam, with delicate mango tarts and chocolate croissants. Run by a French charity that trains local orphans in culinary skills, the shop does good for the locals and your tummy. Buy some extra for the next leg of your journey.
- Omar Khayyam's (34 Nguyen Tri Phuong) will satisfy your craving for curry and tandoori chicken. A cozy, dimly lit restaurant, it's perfect for couples, but if you're bring the family along, they'll make it work. Their North Indian food is a welcome diversion to the regular Western fare.
- Dong Tam (4817 Le Loi) is strictly vegetarian and run by a Buddhist family. The food is fresh and tasty, particularly the banh khoai, a local specialty.