Hue not only is known for being the imperial capital of Vietnam but also for its unique and diverse cuisine with many delicious specialties. Hue food is simple but extremely delicate so it should make your visit here truly unforgettable.
If you still do not know what to eat when visiting this dream city, we have made a list of Hue food specialties that are really worth trying.
Steamed Rice Cake (Banh Beo)
Banh Beo is the traditional cake that visitors shouldn’t miss on a trip to Hue. Banh is cake in Vietnamese and Beo is the delicate white flower of a water fern that the steamed rice cake resembles so that's why this dish is called Banh Beo, steamed rice cakes. Banh Beo is easy to make as the ingredients are just rice flour topped with dried shrimp, oil, and crispy pork skin and served in small round-shaped cups. When you eat it, drizzle plenty of the Hue style chili fish sauce for a perfect balance of sweetness and savory. The taste of Banh Beo has gradually become a kind of so-called "home flavor" that most Hue people love and use them for snacks during the day.
Hue Pancake (Banh Khoai)
One of Vietnam’s most unique pancakes is Banh Khoai of Hue. Banh Khoai is a special Hue pancake made in round shape, about 15 cm in diameter. The dish is similar to Banh Xeo dish of Southern Vietnam, but the flavor is a very different and the crust is thicker and smaller.
Banh Khoai is made from rice flour batter and deep fried with cooking oil. The ingredients are rice powder, egg yolk, pepper, spring onion, fish sauce, shrimp, sliced grilled beef, sliced fat and fresh bean sprouts. This delicious pancake is also served with the sauce made according to the Hue secret technique with many ingredients such as pork liver, minced pork, sesame, roasted peanuts, and Hue soy sauce.
Hue Lemongrass Skewers (Nem Lui Hue)
Nem Lui Hue is Hue lemongrass skewers with grilled pork sausage or meatball. Nem Lui is a popular dish not only in Hue, but also in many other places. However, each place has a different way of processing and flavoring. Nem Lui Hue are often eaten with raw vegetables wrapped in rice paper and is served as the main course or snack. It is best to eat the dish with the dipping sauce which is prepared delicately from dozens of different ingredients such as pork liver, sugar, soy sauce, buttermilk, fish sauce, cinnamon, mint flowers mixed with coconut milk.
Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumplings (Banh Bot Loc)
Banh Bot Loc is a popular Vietnamese street food dish originating from Hue. These transparent chewy dumplings are made from tapioca flour and filled with minced fatty pork or bacon and shrimp, added a little seasoning of sugar, pepper, chili and fish sauce. Each dumpling is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The portions are small and can be eaten as a snack and appetizer.
Mussel Rice (Com Hen Hue)
Hue Mussel Rice is a signature dish of Hue which is very popular. This rustic dish is made from cheap ingredients. Basically mussel rice is made from cooked white rice. Fresh mussels are marinated with some special spices, then stir-fried and cooked. Hue Mussel Rice is served with spicy and salty Hue sauce and raw vegetables, including bananas, bean sprouts, sliced white taro and roasted peanuts. The mussel rice dish has the sweet taste of fresh mussels and the spicy taste of chili.
Finding a place to try this dish is not difficult as mussel rice is sold by many restaurants and street vendors on Hue streets. This delicious dish contains many typical flavors of Hue and is extremely cheap as you can find this dish being sold for only 10,000-15,000 VND per bowl.
Some of the restaurants serving delicious mussel rice:
Com Hen Truong Dinh
- Opening hours: 24 Hours
- Address: 02 Truong Dinh, Hue City
Com Hen Hoa Dong
- Opening hours: 7:00-20:00
- Address: 36 kiet 7, kiet 7 Ung Binh 19, Vy Da, Hue City
Many food stalls on Con Hen, Vy Da, Hue City
Rectangular Dumpling (Banh Nam)
Banh Nam is one of top Hue food specialties. This flat and rectangular dumpling is made from rice flour with shrimp paste and wrapped in banana leaves. There are many types of Banh Nam but the traditional dumpling is usually made of minced pork and shrimps. To make a delicious dumpling, you have to choose white rice that needs to be soaked, then grinded into flour and mixed with water, spices, cooking oil. The leaves for wrapping dumplings are usually green banana leaves. Dumplings are often served with spicy sweet and sour sauce or salty fish sauce with pickled carrots.
If there is a chance to visit Hue, Banh Nam is one of Hue specialties that you have to try. You can easily find this dish being sold in popular eateries, by street vendors or restaurants.
Hue Beef Noodle (Bun Bo Hue)
Bun Bo Hue is one of the most attractive Hue specialty dishes that have been famous for a long time. Today, Bun Bo Hue is present in all cities in Vietnam. Although beef noodle is easy to find everywhere from North to South, when you eat this dish in Hue, you know that there are something different. The original Hue Beef Noodle is made from fine and soft rice flour. The broth is sweet and spicy giving a pleasant taste. Hue people also add a bit of shrimp paste to increase the salty taste, lemongrass, chili, and fish sauce. To the bowl of noodle can be added rare beef, beef balls or fish balls, depending on how you want it. Bun Bo Hue is often served with raw vegetables such as water spinach, bean sprouts, and basil. You can also add chili and lemon for creating more spicy taste.
Finding Hue Beef Noodle shop is not difficult because there are many restaurants selling this Hue specialty. Good quality restaurants serving Bun Bo Hue for a reasonable price are the following:
Bun Bo Ba Nga
- Opening hours: 17:00-24:00
- Address: 103 Xuan 68, Hue City
Bun Bo Ong Vong
- Opening hours: 15:00-18:00
- Address: 5 Nguyen Du, Hue City
Bun Bo Hue O Cuong Chu Diep
- Opening hours: 6:30-23:00
- Address: 6 Tran Thuc Nhan, Hue City
Spicy Noodle Soup (Banh Canh Nam Pho)
In the list of dishes to try when coming to Hue, it is impossible not to mention Banh Canh Nam Pho. This is a royal dish of Hue with typical flavors of the region which is famous for its unique taste. You will be impressed by the bowl of thick red-orange color soup. The soup is made from fresh shrimp and crab broth, so it always has a natural sweetness.
In Hue City, there are many restaurants serving Banh Canh Nam Pho and some of the best places to try it are:
Thuy Banh Canh Nam Pho
- Opening Hours: 12:00-19:00
- Address: 16 Pham Hong Thai, Hue City
Banh Canh Nam Pho Restaurant
- Opening Hours: From 11:00
- Address: 54 Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue City
Hue Sour Shrimps
Sour shrimps are a simple specialty of Hue that you can hardly see in other cities. Shrimps by themselves have a sweet taste, which is mixed with spiciness absorbed from spices.
The authentic sour shrimps must be made from fresh shrimps living in brackish water areas, especially Cau Hai. Small shrimps are used for this dish because they are more easily absorbed into the seasoning. Shrimps are mixed with spices such as galangal, sliced garlic, sliced chilies, thin strips of young bamboo shoots, fish sauces honey and sticky rice, and packed in glass or plastic jars.
Sour shrimps are usually eaten with hot rice but in Hue it is also served with boiled meat, rice paper and raw vegetables. You need to roll rice paper with lettuce, add few slices of star fruit, watermelon, basil, pieces of boiled meat, add sour shrimp and then dip it in the cup of fish sauce. The price of sour shrimps is from 60,000-70,000 VND for 1 kilogram.
Hue Sweet (Che Hue)
Sweet is also Hue specialty that travelers should not miss. Hue has many different types of sweet. It is said that if Hanoi has 36 streets, Hue has 36 types of sweet, and each of them is with its own delicious and attractive flavor.
In Hue, sweet is much more diverse than 36 types from the elegant and luxurious sweets served in the old royal palace such as lotus seed sweet, longan wrapped with lotus seeds and cau cotton sweet to the more popular types such as corn, taro, green bean, red bean, sweet potato that are available at an affordable price for you to choose and taste.
Hue also has a unique sweet which is roasted pork powder sweet. This tea is meticulously processed, from pieces of roasted pork cut into small pieces, wrapped with glutinous rice flour, added sugar to make sweet. You might find that it’s strange but the taste is very unique, both sweet and salty.
Fruit-shaped Mung Bean Cake (Banh Dau Xanh Trai Cay)
Hue is a paradise of cakes as there are hundreds of different types of cakes. Fruit-shaped Mung Bean Cake used to be given to the royals as it was only for the upper class people. Nowadays, green bean cakes are more widely used in weddings and celebrations for entertaining guests. This dish is also suitable for sipping a few cups of tea while chatting with friends. As the name says, the cake is shaped into miniature size of various kinds of fruits and vegetables that we often eat such as oranges, strawberries, and grapes.
Sesame Candy (Me Xung)
Sesame Candy is a typical local snack and Hue specialty that tourists often buy as gifts. Sesame has been associated with Hue people since ancient time. Sesame candies are mainly hand-made. The ingredients used include peanuts, sesame, white sugar and rice flour. In addition, Hue people also use delicious milled rice to make rice flour with a specific flavor. Hue sesame candies are charming by the sweetness of sugar, crunchiness of peanuts, aroma of sesame that will make you remember Hue forever. You can buy sesame candies to bring as gifts for family and friends. Usually the price is about 20,000-50,000 VND per pack.
Vegetarian Food in Hue
Hue has a very well developed and rich vegetarian cuisine because it is the center of the Buddhist culture of the country. Hue locals also have Vegetarian Days, every 1st and 15th of lunar month, when they eat only vegetarian dishes. Some restaurants offer the vegan buffet. Even though you are not vegetarian, vegetarian meals are worth trying.
Famous vegetarian restaurants in Hue:
My Chay Tam Duc
- Opening Hours: 06:00-10:00
- Address: 162 Phan Boi Chau, Truong An, Hue, Vietnam
San May Vegetarian
- Opening Hours: 07:00-21:00
- Address: 8 Thanh Tinh St, Vi Da Village, Hue, Vietnam
- Opening Hours: 07:00-20:00
- Address: 4/1 Van Cao, Hue, Vietnam
Lien Hoa Restaurant
- Opening time: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM daily.
- Address: 3 Le Quy Don Str, Hue City.
If you are unsure where to eat these tasty Hue food specialties, we highly recommend joining Hue Street Food Walking Tour. The local guide will take you to enjoy the authentic taste of Hue around the city!
In terms of the best areas to stay in Hue, you basically have few choices to choose. Our tips for choosing the right accommodation in the imperial city: Where to Stay in Hue.
The list of Hue must-see tourist attractions including Hue Imperial City (The Citadel), Thien Mu Pagoda, Tombs of the Ancient Emperors and other interesting sights can be found here: Hue Attractions.
Detailed information about getting from Hue Airport to city center is provided here: How to get from Phu Bai Airport (HUI) to Hue City.