A light, delicious Nha Trang offering

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The rice vermicelli soup with fish and jellyfish that is native to the central beach town can be found with original flavors in Ho Chi Minh City

Bun cha ca sua (rice vermicelli soup with fish paste and jellyfish) / PHOTO: GIANG VU

Self-appointed authorities or gourmets on Nha Trang cuisine are fond of saying that if you visit the country’s most famous beach town without checking out its rice vermicelli soup with fish and jellyfish, you are making a mistake.

The good news is that you do not need to travel 450 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to check out the dish that draws effusive praise for simple ingredients combining to make something very delicious.

Right here, in the heart of the city, there are a couple of restaurants that you can head to if you are in the mood for having something light, maybe even after something heavy with pork, chicken and beef.

One of them, on Dinh Tien Hoang Street in District 1, is perhaps one of the city’s most popular sellers of its kind.

Its most basic dish, bun cha ca (rice vermicelli soup with fish paste), stays true to the original version with the paste brought in from Nha Trang.

The town’s fish paste has a natural chewiness thanks to the use of fresh fish like mackerel and barracuda, without the addition of the texturing agent borax. It also has a natural sweetness and light fragrance.

A bowl of bun cha ca is simple and light, with transparent broth, small rice vermicelli, pieces of deep-fried fish paste, tomato, shredded green onion, and onion. It is served with lettuce, basil, and bean sprouts.

A bit of spicy sha cha sauce and slices of green chili are all you need to add to the bowl before eating.

To have a bowl of bun sua (rice vermicelli soup with jellyfish), the beach town’s most famous dish, you can order a bowl of bun cha ca sua.

QUÁN 49 - ĐẶC SẢN NHA TRANG

49 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1

Open hours: 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; 4 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Prices: bun cha ca (VND45,000/bowl), bun ca dam (VND50,000/bowl), bun ca ngu kho man (VND68,000/serving), bun cha ca sua (VND55,000/bowl)

The jellyfish, which is caught off islands in Nha Trang, does not cause itchiness when eaten. It is as small as a toe or a thumb and has a milky white color.

Bun sua is best when it is eaten spicy and hot.

You can also check out the restaurant’s bun ca ngu nau man – rice vermicelli is served in a separate dish together with raw vegetables, and tuna is served in a clay pot. Seasoned before being cooked over heat in the soup with onions and tomatoes, the fish is not too salty or flat.

Bun ca dam in which the rice vermicelli soup is eaten with pieces of boneless fish meat is yet another must-try dish. The fish used is either marlin or filefish.

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