Vietnamese street food : Bun rieu cua (noodle soup with crab and tomato)


Bún riêu cua (riêu, pronounced with a ‘z’ sound, like boon zeew) is a Northern style soup, popular in Hanoi as a breakfast. As always I break down the translation of the words for myself because I find that the more individual words I recognise in a language, the easier I find it to work out what and how a country eats –  Bún (noodle, in this instance a white rice noodle) riêu (soup) cua (crab). Noodle soup, with crab.

The strong flavoured, and delicious soup is made using tomatoes and stock generated from the crab shells and additional pork bones. The noodles are joined in the broth with soft, pillows of tofu which soak up all the delicious juices like a sponge, rogue lumps of soft poached tomatoes and clustered crab meat. The crab meat is cooked with a mixture of spices and eggs (as a binding agent) and added to the broth. It can break down in the bowl, physically resembling scrambled egg, but having a much more crab-like taste.
Bun rieu breakfast table

Bun rieu breakfast table

The dish is served with the usual sides of mixed Vietnamese herb leaves, pungent shrimp paste and beansprouts.As a popular breakfast, many places will stop serving before lunchtime. We enjoyed eating at 11 Hàng Bạc, a tiny unmarked restaurant where customers gather in a busy, crowded front room, which also spills out onto the street – grab a seat outside if one is available.
Like many noodle soup dishes in Hanoi & Vietnam fried breadsticks, known as quay, (may also be known as youtiao or Chinese crullers) can be added to soak up the juices.
A bowl cost around 25’000VND.  
Some useful phrases
Sin chow – hello
Mot – one
Hai – two
Gam urn – thank you
Tra da – iced tea, a popular and cheap drink to accompany meals and usually available at hole in the wall restaurants (pronounced cha)


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