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Bun Bo Hue at Tan My

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This topic has probably come up before on here, but I just wanted to share my experience today. A friend of mine posted a photo of Bun Bo Hue on Facebook and sparked my interest... so I decided to go try it at Tan My. My friend's soup looked pretty tame, but I was really intrigued by the red, chile based broth. I feel like I've only scratched the surface with Vietnamese food... noodle dishes and pho, the usual suspects. I figured this was a great way to dig in a little.

Tan My's never disappointed me; it's in fact my favorite pho place in town. Their no.1 beef pho has all kinds of mysterious ingredients (tendon, tripe, etc), but it's always amazingly fresh and tasty. When I ordered the Bun Bo Hue today, the waiter kinda looked at me funnily. "With everything?" I said yes. I kinda imagine he was thinking "does this white American know what he's getting into?" He looked at me several times while I was eating, obviously curious to see if I was enjoying it.

In the best way possible, this soup was GNARLY. It was certainly spicy, but not overbearingly so. It had huge chunks of sliced, coagulated pork blood in it, brisket, several pieces of unidentifiable, chewy yet crazily tasty mystery meat, a couple of pieces of pigs' feet and a few slices of "pork cake." The latter was the weirdest of all the ingredients... while the blood was shockingly mild in flavor and more about texture, the pork cake was extreeeeemely funky and barnyard-y.

If you're adventurous, I'd highly recommend giving this dish a try. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you're willing, it's an interesting and great experience. Yet another reason why I consider myself very fortunate to live in such a wonderful city.

Oh, and one final thing... I imagine this stuff probably does wonders for hangovers.

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  1. I've been tempted to try it at Lily's. I'm a die hard Vietnamese Food Phan. And GNARLY is right up my alley. Who else does a decent BBH? If I'm gonna plunge, I want it to be the best <cough> there is town!

    -sw

    1. yup, i agree, that's my favorite Bun Bo Hue in town... i was pretty much going to Tan My once a week for it for a while... My vietnamese friend's mother said this was the best Bun Bo Hue she's ever had...

      I've had BBH at Pho Dan also, which is it hit or miss... they DO give you the fermented shrimp paste to add as desired though, which you don't get at Tan My... I've had BBH at Pho Saigon, Pho King, and Short and Sweet also, but didn't care for it at any of those places. Never tried it at Lily's, though their Bun Rieu was pretty good...

      4 Replies
      1. re: abidonfood

        just had the Bun Bo Hue at Duy, which is next to Short n Sweet. i think it was pretty darn good and Tan My might have some competition here... but then again, i Was starving when i had it... still, just throwing it out there in case anyone else wants to try it out, i know i'll be back...

        1. re: abidonfood

          I like the Duy and Pho King BBH though I haven't tried Tan My's yet.

          1. re: lixlix

            Ok just had Tan My's Bun Bo Hue today.

            Things I liked : Broth was very complex and yet balanced. Plenty of blood cubes and Pork Hock, more than other places. Vietnamese style boudin blanc slices were also nicely flavored. Liked that the Pork hock is a nice piece with even some marrow in the bone! Noodles were also cooked to very correct consistency and were the real Bun bo Hue noodles and not pho noodles.

            Things I wish was better: Wish the tendon filled sliced beef shank was used instead of the sliced beef flank you find in Pho. While herb accompaniments were very fresh and the traditional purple cabbage was served, wish the traditional sliced banana peel accompaniment was also served. Still these are fairly minor quibbles.

            1. re: lixlix

              Had bun bo hue from Thanh Nhi last night. Got an order of nem nuong spring rolls (1B) to start, of course!

              Broth: No distinct lemongrass flavor, not spicy, and not very oily or red/orange, but well seasoned in terms of salt/sweet/umami. Only needed a squeeze of lime. She offered some sa te, which addressed the oil and spice issue.

              Ingredients: Round rice noodles, thinly sliced red onions, cilantro, fried shallots. I opted to not get pork blood or knuckle. Instead, I had pork roll, raw beef slices, and thin sliced tendon-y beef. Side of veggies includes bean sprouts, fresh jalapeno, thai basil, purple and green cabbage. No banana flower, but I'm okay with that.

              I was thoroughly satisfied and happy with my small bowl. The owner was very elated and proud of this dish when I commented on how much I liked it. She's really great. Next time, I will take her up on adding some fermented shrimp paste/sauce to really amp up the broth.

              p.s. I've eaten a number of items from this place and so far, I only suspect the pho and bun bo hue to use homemade stock. The other dishes often have a artificial sweetness and yellow hue that can't get down with.

              P.S.S - Go to Pho Dan and get the BUN SOUNG. Peanuts, thinly sliced pork, shrimp, shrimp balls, thin round rice noodles. IT IS SO GOOD. they make the best shrimp balls.