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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Malay street food :Kai see hor fun, Ipoh (clear chicken noodle soup)


We took a trip to Ipoh based on it being rich in two areas we tend to like to find on our travels. Food and heritage.

Ipoh didn’t disappoint, it’s got an amazing wealth of local food – several of the most well-known local dishes include kai see hor fun, popiah and chee cheong fun to name a few. One of the most ubiquitous is tauge ayam, the Ipohian variation of chicken rice which includes beanspouts. Beansprouts are legendary in Ipoh and on inspection they seem overly plump and juicy – Unfortunately, there are not many vegetables I want to eat less than beansprouts.

Kai see hor fun – a local favourite in Ipoh, a hearty noodle soup.

Kai see hor fun

The base is a rich clear prawn stock soup, a bit salty perhaps, but packed full of flavour. To this shredded chicken, small prawns, spring onions and flat rice noodles are added. Noodles are a big deal in Ipoh, I’m not sure I’ve eaten them this silky before – they have a super smooth texture, fresh and slippery, but in a good way.  Ipohians claim that the limestone in the local water is the reason behind both the quality of the beansprouts & also the silkiness of their noodles – Hor fun is a type of wide, white flat rice noodle.

It’s simple, honest and enjoyable.

Any visit to Ipoh should include a trip to the old town, include a visit to at least one of the two traditional kopitams in town, Thean Chun & Kong Heng. They are seemingly pretty legendary in the town and always busy. They are not hard to find and located next door to each other.


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