Delicacies straight from the streets of Hanoi
Food is at the very heart of Vietnamese culture and can be seen everywhere.
Sadly, for a long time in Shanghai, locals have simply associated Vietnamese food with a comfort bowl of pho and spring rolls.
The misled concept is about to change thanks to the recent opening of Bun Cha Cha.
Talented Chinese chef Danyi Gao has been traveling extensively in a country where the food is beautiful to behold. She’s been fascinated by its diversity where flavors and textures are deftly arranged so each note rings clear, from the piercing highs of chili paste and fish sauce to the bottomless depths of a stock that’s been burbling for hours.
She opened the authentic Vietnamese eatery with a mission to show the abundance of Vietnamese delicacy rarely found in Shanghai.
“As a Chinese, I’ve been pushing the creative side of my cuisine as seen in the fusion menu at Shake but as a Chinese working on the Vietnamese menu, I would like to focus on the authenticity of its cuisine rather than a ‘fusion-Vietnamese’ version,” Gao said.
Even with a compact menu, a meal at Bun Cha Cha made me feel like traveling back to Vietnam from the north to the south. These are the tastes that satisfy, soothe, particularly the pungent greens and herbs that figure in almost every dish.
No dish is a better illustration than Hanoi’s iconic bun cha, the signature item (58 yuan) here. A long-time staple in the Vietnamese capital, it earned its place in the international spotlight when Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain were seen enjoying a bowl at the family-owned Bun Cha Huong Lien. Gao brought back the beloved street dish from Hanoi — grilled pork meatballs, pork belly served along with rice noodles, fragrant assorted herbs and leaves and sweetened fish sauce.
Instructions in how to eat bun cha in two ways are indicated on the paper placemat — wrapping the grilled pork in larger leaves or incorporating all the elements into the building of your bowl.
The best way to taste Vietnamese food is to move from one street vendor to another for its different specialties but here you can have it all without moving. I was excited to have steamed clams with lemongrass (48 yuan) here, another dish I’ve got to know in central Vietnam but what I had here was even more perfectly executed. Saigon specialty Bahn Mi (58 yuan-68 yuan), the Vietnamese version of the baguette, is another classic perfect for a decent lunch.
Gao uses the freshest ingredients from carefully selected farmers to serve the specialties of different Vietnamese regions and adds the other classics every two months. Bun Cha Cha offers an all-day menu with the portions to allow you to taste as many dishes as possible, and repeat them if you desire.
Opening hours: 10am-10pm
Address: B103B, 222 Huaihai Rd M.
Average price: 90 yuan (US$13.41)