Phu Quoc’s delicious signature dish that is causing a stir.
The anticipation is palpable as excited foodies and travelers arrive at Phu Quoc’s most popular Bun Quay restaurant. Bun Quay is renowned for its ingredients and its fresh aromatic flavor. Spilling out of the front door and halfway around the block, eager visitors wait to try and experience Phu Quoc’s legendary, mouth-watering shrimp-based dish. Outside the restaurant, you can hear the movement and animated chatter of the diners, the shifting of ceramic bowls and plates, and the enthusiastic clacker of chopsticks. A delectable, sweet aroma spills out into the street that sits across from Phu Quoc’s charming harbor. You are undoubtedly in the right place for Phu Quoc’s esteemed signature dish.
The early origins of Bun Quay (which translates directly to ‘noodle stir’ or ‘stirring noodle’) were brought to Phu Quoc from Central Vietnam in 1955, prepared with ground shrimp. It was known on the island as Bun Tom (shrimp noodle) until 1996, when the Kien Xay family began to experiment with the flavours, trialing many of Phu Quoc’s fresh seafood and locally sourced seasonings. With the new recipe in place, the restaurant saw a considerable rise in popularity. From 1996 to 2012, the Kien Xay family restaurant became known across Vietnam as the place to experience the exclusive, flavor popping ‘Bun Quay’.
Once you pass through the restaurant, there is never a dull moment. Known in Vietnam as ‘fun food’, the collaborative nature of Bun Quay makes it an ideal choice for group dining. Essential to the dish is the dipping sauce – mixed individually by each diner according to their taste preferences. The dipping sauce consists of four parts, including chili, sugar, fish sauce, and citrus, and creates equal parts, zest, sweet, salty, and sour. Appreciating that non-locals and foreigners might be confused by the unique process, they placed illustrated signs throughout the restaurant in English and Vietnamese to ensure you get the best from your Bun Quay experience.
A continuous buzz of moving people and serving stations means that your hands and senses are always busy. Once the sauce is created to your taste, you move over to the noodle stand, which is a visual delight and a peek into the intricacies of Vietnamese cuisine. Skilled cooks weave long ribbons of noodles made of rice flour, all whilst you are stirring the sauce and the chefs are stirring the soup. Add the noodles, the fish, shrimp, squid, herbs, and onions, and you are ready to take a seat with your bowl of Phu Quoc’s renowned Bun Quay dish.
The ever-growing popularity of Bun Quay has seen the dish recreated by numerous chefs around Vietnam, and now it is served in various regions across the country. There is, however, no place like home, and eager diners flock to try the original Bun Quay on the picturesque island where it originates.
Traditionally, Bun Quay is a morning dish, but is now served across the island throughout the day and into the evening, serving as a meeting hub for locals to relax after the working day.
Phu Quoc now boasts over ten Bun Quay restaurants, each offering a somewhat different experience, but all using the best of Phu Quoc’s fresh seafood and local ingredients. Although well-known across Vietnam, it is still a relatively unknown dish across the world. However, most foreign diners who are lucky enough to try it return multiple times during their stay in Phu Quoc; they are passionate about the flavor and charmed by the process.
To try Bun Quay on Phu Quoc Island, you can go here:
Bun Quay – Kiến Xây, 28 Bach Dang Road, Duong Dong, which is popular with tourists.
Bun Quay – Thanh Hùng, 77 30/4 Road, Duong Dong, which is popular for both local and Vietnamese tourists.