The three-decade snail vermicelli restaurant in Hanoi

Opening three decades ago as a street-food shop on the pavement of Nguyen Sieu street, Mrs. Bui Thi Hue’s snail vermicelli restaurant today still retain its original flavor. Each day the small restaurant serves around 500 customers.

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As a familiar dish of Hanoians, snail vermicelli is favored by many people for its rustic and simple taste. However, to enjoy a delicious bowl of snail vermicelli with traditional flavors, gourmets usually visit Mrs. Hue’s restaurant on Nguyen Sieu Street. They come here to taste the sweet aroma of consommé, the soft white noodles and the flavor of perilla, green onions, spicy chili, and a few pieces of tomatoes.

Mrs. Hue said she has been selling snail vermicelli for 33 years and her restaurant has customers who have come here for nearly 30 years. Hue was born in Hanoi’s neighboring province of Hung Yen. When she was young, she worked for a snail vermicelli restaurant run by an old lady in Hang Giay Street. The lady taught her how to cook snail vermicelli.

After the old lady died, Hue became a snail vermicelli vendor. She walked around the Hanoi Old Quarter with two loads on her shoulders. At that time, Hue only sold cold snail vermicelli. Her loads included a basket of vermicelli, a bowl of snails and a pot of sauce that was mixed from snail broth, simmering, and vinegar and chili. At that time, a bowl of snail vermicelli cost only VND20,000. Each day she sold about 100-200 bowls.

“Later when I got old, my children told me to stop being a vendor. After 20 years walking around with my snail vermicelli loads, I decided to rent a small shop on Nguyen Sieu Street.

Since opening this restaurant, Hue’s snail vermicelli has become more and more popular. Besides cold snail vermicelli, she also serves hot snail vermicelli, with prices ranging from VND30,000 to VND40,000 a bowl.

Hue said she has to get up at 3am to prepare ingredients. At 5am, she and her children travel dozens of kilometers from Hung Yen to Hanoi to carry bowls, broth, noodles, snails … to the restaurant. The restaurant opens from 6 am to 2 pm. After closing the restaurant, she drives back to her home in Hung Yen to prepare ingredients for the next day.

There are countless vermicelli shops in Hanoi but Hue’s restaurant is the most crowded one. She sells about 100kg of snails a day, or about 300-500 bowls of vermicelli. The restaurant is usually overcrowded during weekends. On these days, she sells out 500 bowls of vermicelli within only two hours.

Hue’s small restaurant is a familiar address of not only Vietnamese but also foreign visitors.

Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày

Mrs. Hue said she has been selling snail vermicelli for 33 years and her restaurant has customers who have come here for nearly 30 years.  

 
Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày

Snail pies

Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày

Snails

Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày
Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày
Ba thập kỷ giữ hương vị gia truyền, quán bún ốc bán 500 bát/ngày

Each day the small restaurant serves around 500 customers.

Nhat Thanh

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