Hue is known for many things, being the old capital of Vietnam, having a UNESCO awarded Citadel, the perfume river and many more things but I was there for one reason and one reason alone. Food!
Hue is known around Vietnam as the food capital of the country. It is said that when Hue was the capital of Vietnam the emperor would bring all the best chefs to the city. Each chef was in charge of a different dish. There were typically 53 dishes per meal. Obviously this was long ago but all of these recipes and skills seemed to have hung around the city because everything we ate was divine.
One dish in particular blew our socks off and had us returning again and again. Bau Khoai is a fried rice pancake filled with shrimp, pork and beansprouts. It’s served with what I could only work out to be really ripe avocado and the traditional pile of herbs that seems to a company all Vietnamese dishes. The best part though is the sauce…oh the sauce. A perfect tongue pleasing combination of satay and thin hoisin. I could drink gallons of it. You combine all of this in a bowl and consume. I’m drooling just typing this.
The restaurant is famous on trip adviser and in the Lonely Planet but we think we went in the fake next door rather than the real one. The real one is called Lac Thien. I can only image how good the real one is since this one blew us away.
When we weren’t filling our faces we were absorbing the history. The very expensive history. Getting into the citadel was much more than we’d read online and in the guide books, but it was worth it to see inside. We had read it would be 2 pound (or 55,000 dong) but instead it was close to double that at 120,000 dong. The sad thing about it is that so many wars and natural disasters have ruined the original buildings so pretty much everything you’re seeing is a restoration. It’s still great to see but such a shame that the real history is gone. We loved stumbling on an area when the restoring hadn’t begun and you could see fragments of the real citadel under the grass.
It was a beautiful city but did suffer from a quick rise in tourism. We didn’t even dare walk by the lake since we were hassled as if we were on the beaches of Boracay. The people would be quite aggressive and rude. Which is a shame. I wish the government would step in and help change this because the city will be ruined beyond repair soon and not worth a visit. I think we would have bought more and definitely taken tuk tuks and boat rides if we hadn’t been chanced down the street at every turn.
Hue is a good city, but it definitely could be a GREAT city if tourism was nurtured instead of attacked by putting high prices on things and hounding people. I realise that sounds like I didn’t enjoy my time here. I did but it’s sad to be able to see how fantastic this place could be. Saying all that, it’s worth coming for a few days for the food and a glimpse at the beautiful architecture.