BúnBúnBún is a new Vietnamese café that has bravely opened on Kingsland Road just two doors up from neighbourhood favourite and hallowed legend Sông Quê.
Bún’s USP, differentiating it from the other Kingsland road cafés, is that it purports to serve authentic fare from Hanoi, particularly bún chå, a pork and noodle dish served in a rich meat broth that I saw everywhere in the city when I visited, and was looking forward to enjoying again.
We thus sat down expecting to find a menu full of hard-to-find classics, but the menu was full of mostly familiar pan-Asian items: green papaya salad, satay, udon noodles, as well as a perplexing “Vietnamese burger” served on a brioche bun (a nod, I suppose, to that law passed by the Tories stating every burger henceforth must only be served well done, and on brioche).
The bún chå itself was accorded a separate instruction manual encased in a plastic stand on each table, with a mathematical formula featuring different types of meats and accompaniments. Between this, and the fact that it was filed under “noodle salad” on the menu (it’s a broth dish), I got confused, presumed that Bún was simply serving a vermicelli salad, and opted for the monkfish instead.
Unfortunately our friendly server was run off his feet and also was not fluent enough in English to answer our questions, so I also ordered some sweet potato chips from the menu, supposing they were was possibly a Hanoian speciality. Alas, I found that they were indeed just chips.
Our meal, supplemented by summer rolls and salt and chilli squid, definitely gave Sông Quê a run for its money: all of it was well prepared, fresh and perfectly executed, and I enjoyed the classics done well. The salt and chilli squid was actually far superior to most of the competitors’, and the monkfish was decently priced and generously portioned with lots of fresh herbs.
So, despite being a little disappointed that I managed to miss the signature dish (I blame both myself and how the information was presented), Bún is all right in my books, although I’d like to see the owners develop a more Hanoian feel as they find their feet.
134b Kingsland Road