Phu Quoc cuisine has long held a special place in the hearts of Vietnamese tourists. Bun ken Phu Quoc - one of the "unique" dishes that you must try when visiting the coastal area of Phu Quoc. This dish is attractive to tourists thanks to its delicious flavor, rustic way of processing, and extremely eye-catching color.
Let's find out what Bun Ken Phu Quoc is, how to cook it, and the must-try Bun Ken Phu Quoc restaurants in this article.
Bun Ken Phu Quoc - a noodle dish with a distinctive "unique" flavor characteristic of the Pearl Island (Source: yenngocxinhxinh)
1. Introduction to Phu Quoc Ken noodle - a local specialty
For a long time, Phu Quoc has been known as a "paradise" of famous noodle dishes such as bun quay, bun nham, and bun cha ca thu. All of them create fond memories for many Vietnamese cuisine lovers. For those who are foodies and want to explore unique flavors, Bun Ken Phu Quoc is always at the top of the list of must-try dishes on the pearl island.
What is Bun Ken Phu Quoc?
Bun ken Phu Quoc, also known as bun khen - a strange-sounding name that originates from the Khmer people's term "ken" when referring to dishes cooked with coconut milk.
Bun Ken Phu Quoc is more special than the horn noodle on the mainland due to the fish used in the broth (Source: Melynda Maheux)
Although quite unknown on the Vietnamese culinary map, horn noodle has also appeared in some provinces in the Mekong Delta such as Chau Doc, Can Tho. The main ingredient of horn noodle is fish.
Here, locals often make the broth using sliced snakehead fish. Unlike horn noodle on the mainland, the broth of Bun Ken Phu Quoc is cooked with fresh, live barracuda and grouper fish caught directly from the sea. This difference brings a distinctive rustic flavor to the dish that cannot be found anywhere else.
A bowl of Phu Quoc Island's bún (rice vermicelli) comes with green vegetables, a dash of red chili, shredded papaya in orange color, shiny yellow broth, and white vermicelli. It creates a dish that is not only delicious but also very eye-catching and tempting, making everyone "salivate" at the thought of it.
2. Where to find delicious bún kèn in Phu Quoc?
If you have set foot on the Pearl Island, you must not miss one of the following eateries to taste the authentic flavor of the famous Bun Ken Phu Quoc.
2.1. Bun Ken Út Lượm - the famous address for selling Bun Ken Phu Quoc
The restaurant Bun Trumpet Ut Luom is a favorite address for many backpackers here
Bun Ken Ut Luom in Phu Quoc is a beloved restaurant among many backpackers, and it is recommended by word of mouth for its delicious and authentic bowl of bun. This is also why the restaurant is always crowded and tables are often fully booked.
The reputation of Ut Luom restaurant is spread by word of mouth thanks to the delicious flavor of the broth in the bun Ken dish, which is just right (Source: Hung Dang)
Close-up of a bowl of bún Ken overflowing with toppings at Ut Luom's restaurant (Source: Đinh Phương)
Updated information as of March 2021:
Due to the owner reclaiming the premises at 87 30 Thang 4 street, the Bun Ken Ut Luom restaurant is currently located across the street. The current address is 42 30 Thang 4 street, Duong Dong town, Phu Quoc.
The old address at 87 30/4 street now also sells bun trumpet, but it is not Út Lượm's restaurant. Please pay attention to the opposite side to enjoy the most delicious and authentic Bun Ken Phu Quoc.
- Address: 42 30/4 street, Duong Dong town, Phu Quoc
- Opening hours: from 6:00am - 10:00am
- Price range: 20,000 - 25,000 VND per bowl
2.2 Bun Ken Aunt Hong - a long-standing address for Bun Ken Phu Quoc
Bun Ken aunt Hồng is a small street food cart located near the roundabout of Dinh Cau Market (Source: @atewhatwhere)
Despite being just a small street food cart located near the roundabout of Dinh Cau Market, Bun trumet aunt Hồng shop on Nguyễn Trãi street is often the go-to destination for tourists who want to enjoy the specialty dish of Bun Ken Phu Quoc
Bun Ken Aunt Hồng is famous for its delicious flavor and attracts many Phu Quoc culinary devotees. (Source: more.than.lover)
Make sure to wake up early to visit Dì Hồng's stall and try the tempting bun trumpet dish. Although they start selling early in the morning, by 9-10 am, the stall has sold out. You will surely regret missing out if you are too late.
- Address: No. 4 Nguyen Trai, Phu Quoc (near Phu Quoc night market)
- Opening hours: from 6:00 am - 10:00 am
- Price range: 25,000 - 30,000 VND/bowl
3. How to cook Phu Quoc-style Bun Ken
If you have had a chance to taste bún kèn and miss the rustic flavor of this dish, you can recreate this super delicious dish in your own kitchen. Follow the simple recipe for Phu Quoc-style bun ken below.
- Red snapper or silver sillago fish: depending on the number of people eating, prepare an appropriate amount of fish
- Seasoning ingredients: garlic, lemongrass, chili, curry, five-spice powder
- Coconut milk
- Fresh vegetables for serving: herbs, bean sprouts, cucumber, green papaya
- Fresh rice vermicelli"
Ingredients for making Phu Quoc style bún kèn at home
3.2 Steps to make Phu Quoc style bun ken:
Step 1: Firstly, you need to prepare the fish and wash it thoroughly with water. You can remove the fishy smell of the fish with white wine or salt.
Step 2: Fillet the fish, blanch it briefly, then remove the meat and divide it into small pieces.
Step 3: Crush the prepared spices, including garlic, chili, and lemongrass, then stir-fry them until fragrant and mix them with the fish until the fish is dry and crispy.
Step 4: Add five-spice powder, curry powder, and coconut milk.
Step 5: Then, season the mixture to taste and cook over low heat until it thickens.
Step 6: Prepare the rice vermicelli noodles, add fresh herbs, and then pour the broth on top. And now you have a bowl of authentic Phu Quoc-style Keen noodles to enjoy!
3.3 How to enjoy Bun Ken Phu Quoc way
The proper way to eat Bun ken Phu Quoc is to mix everything together before eating and add a little chili vinegar to make it more appealing and tantalizing to the taste buds.
If you find the noodles a bit sweet, you can add fish sauce and lime to balance the sweetness.
The combination of the natural fragrance and sweetness of fresh seafood with the richness of the broth and the freshness of the herbs is sure to create an explosion of flavors that will make you remember it forever after just one taste.
Bun Ken Phu Quoc is a rustic and delicious specialty dish with a strong and unique flavor. If you haven't had the opportunity to taste the flavor of this special dish, be sure to add Bun Ken to your list of must-try foods when you set foot on the Pearl Island of Phu Quoc.
Image source: collected