Sweeping generalization time: There is an Asian noodle dish for every mood of every person who ever lived. If you’re cranky, I can’t imagine pad thai wouldn’t cheer you up even a little. It’s so tangy. If in a state of nostalgia and need comfort food, I recommend lo mein, everyone’s first favorite Chinese dish. Ah, I can smell the mall now. If you’re feeling transparent, don’t fret. Japchae feels the same way, and it’s there for you (and maybe go easy on the drunken confessions there, tiger). But if you’re simply hungry and ready to try a noodle dish you may not have had before — otherwise known as adventurous — I recommend bun thit nuong, Vietnamese rice noodle salad.
Bun thit nuong is only eaten for lunch in Vietnam, making this experience all the more authentic. What about pho, you say? I say check out this pho porn, then save it for breakfast. Honestly, can you think of a happier way to start your morning?
The dish consists of boiled rice vermicelli, daintiest of the rice noodles, topped with sliced lemongrass-scented pork and served with a variety of light, flavorful toppings like grassy Thai basil, mint, bean sprouts, pickled carrots, sliced chilis, crushed peanuts and sweet vinegar. No stir-frying with lots of oil, sugar and soy sauce, and bun thit nuong is usually eaten at room temperature. It’s kind of like a deconstructed summer roll, perfect on a hot day when you want to feel full without feeling like you’re gestating a yakisoba baby.
So step up to the counter and seriously, seriously suppress the urge to order pho. Pho’s awesome, everyone likes it and it’s not going anywhere. There will always be bones to make into the greatest soup this side of the Mekong. But chewy, light, refreshing bun thit nuong …well, no it’ll also be there forever. My argument is falling apart. Order the noodles.
Heading to Hanoi anytime soon? Eat these 19 other dishes the region is famous for.
More Vietnamese food for lunch on Food Republic: