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Vietnamese Street food: The secret is all in the Bún
Jul 31st 2015 | Written by Baldwin Ho

Vietnamese Street food: The secret is all in the Bún


I’ve done a lot of reviews in the Square Mile, but ashamedly I’ve never visited the Phở Mile in Shoreditch. Well there isn’t much around that section of Shoreditch, apart from well…Vietnamese restaurants. Much like pizza places, they are great for visiting in your local area, but would you travel across town just for a bowl of phở?

Don’t be confused by the name, BúnBúnBún on Kingsland Road isn’t a burger joint (although you can order one inside). Bún with the accent is rice vermicelli, which is omnipresent in most Vietnamese dishes. The site used to be more of a Bánh mì cafe and the proprietor has been waiting to get a restaurant license to turn it into it’s current state. Although looking at the decor, you would imagine not too much has changed since it’s cafe days with it’s plastered walls, plain looking wooden tables and chairs.

What does brighten up the visit is the service, the staff are as smiley and happy as you will find in Shoreditch without having to have drunk 3 pints of beer. They are great with recommendations and delighted to chat with you as long as you want them there. It’s also great to see individuals still wanting to be entrepreneurs, opening up their own restaurants in a London dining scene dominated by corporate enterprises.

In what I believe is to be a world first: they offer a Vietnamese 5-spiced burger in a brioche bun. If you are a dab hand in the kitchen, you will know 5 spice power works a treat on all types of beef meat. I was in a more conventional mood and went for their tofu summer roll and Hanoi Bún chả. The summer rolls were light and translucent, but they did stick together like Siamese twins. Perhaps they have been in the fridge a little too long? The same problem arose for the Bún chả, the vermicelli clumped together like my hair on a bad hair day. It tasted fresh and healthy, but sometimes appearances do matter. Together with the pork patties and the forest of vegetables on the plate, this made for a rather gigantic meal. What really put the dish together is the fish sauce, it’s appetising, it’s refreshing, it’s exactly the type of sauce I would drink a whole bowl of at home if no one was watching.

summer rolls

bunchaI do have to challenge the healthy claims on Vietnamese food though. My main course used rather fatty pork and if you ordered the soft-shelled crab or the fried squid, there is considerably deep frying involved. However, they do care about your waistline here: you can swop your rice dishes for a low carb salad alternative and their homemade lemonade with black tea really helps with the digestion. BúnBúnBún might be rough around the edges, but here at Townfish we love supporting local independent businesses and they are a great little restaurant in Shoreditch that needs your support.