Hanoi's popular shrimp paste noodles disparaged by TasteAtlas

By Nguyen Chi   March 21, 2024 | 02:58 am PT
Rice vermicelli with fried tofu and shrimp paste, one of Hanoi's iconic dishes, has been voted one the worst dishes in Vietnam by international food magazine TasteAtlas.

The dish, known in Vietnamese as "bun dau mam tom," received only a three-star rating and ranked fifth in the list of 45 worst rated Vietnamese foods "based on the ratings of the TasteAtlas audience, with a series of mechanisms that recognize real users and that ignore bots, nationalist, or local patriotic ratings, and give additional value to the ratings of users that the system recognizes as knowledgeable."

Some 4,427 ratings were recorded, of which 3,037 were recognized by the system as legitimate, according to TasteAtlas.

The website supports itself solely on advertising revenue, mostly generated by beneficiaries of its posts.

Considered one of Hanoi's mots popular street foods, traditional versions of bun dau are served with a cup of fermented shrimp paste mam tom and consisted just of fried tofu, vermicelli, and herbs.

But now, diners can enjoy various toppings such as cha com (young green rice and pork cake), boiled pork, and pig tripe.

Đậu phụ làng Mơ và bún lá Phú Đô. Ảnh: Bùi Thủy

A serving of 'bun dau mam tom' (rice vermicelli with shrimp paste). Photo by Bui Thuy

Though the unusual scent of the fermented shrimp sauce deters many from trying the dish, some foreign tourists also have managed to try this dish and praised it, with shrimp paste being the most unique thing they had experienced.

Many food enthusiasts were also surprised as banh dau xanh (mung bean cake), a delicacy from the northern province of Hai Duong, was named the worst rated dish in Vietnam with a 2.8-star rating, followed by tiet canh (raw blood pudding), banh troi (floating glutinous rice dumplings) and thit dong (Vietnamese pork jelly).

A bowl of bun man (fermented fish noodle soup), voted among worst rated dishes in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

A bowl of 'bun mam' (fermented fish noodle soup), listed among worst rated dishes in Vietnam by TasteAtlas. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

The rating flies in the face of other international food critics' praise of Vietnamese dishes, including the late-great Anthony Bourdain, and the likes of Jonathan Gold.

Popular online influencers and connoisseurs of Vietnamese food wholeheartedly disagreed with the insult.

"They have almost listed the entire Vietnamese cuisine. No matter how foreigners score, to me these are always delicious dishes," a reader commented on the list of 45 worst dishes.

TasteAtlas's full list of the 45 worst-rated Vietnamese foods:

1. Banh dau xanh (mung bean cake)

2. Tiet canh (raw blood pudding)

3. Banh troi (floating glutinous rice dumplings)

4. Thit dong (Vietnamese pork jelly)

5. Bun dau mam tom (rice vermicelli noodles with fried tofu and shrimp paste)

6. Bun mam (fermented fish noodle soup)

7. Chao long (Vietnamese pork offal porridge)

8. Che chuoi (banana coconut tapioca pudding)

9. Xoi gac (sticky rice cooked with gac fruit)

10. Banh trung thu (mooncake)

11. Nem chua (fermented pork)

12. Com chay (crispy rice)

13. Banh cam (deep-fried sesame glutinous rice balls)

14. Banh tet (sticky rice cakes filled with mung beans and pork)

15. Che troi nuoc (sticky rice balls in ginger syrup)

16. Banh chung (square sticky rice cakes filled with mung beans and pork)

17. Banh gio (rice and pork pyramid dumpling)

18. Com lam (bamboo cooked sticky rice)

19. Rau cau (Vietnamese jelly cake made with agar)

20. Banh mi xiu mai (meatball banh mi)

21. Quay (Vietnamese fried dough sticks)

22. Banh canh (Vietnamese thick noodle soup)

23. Banh bo (Vietnamese honeycomb cake)

24. Bun cha ca (fried fish cake noodle soup)

25. Ca kho to (caramelized fish in clay pot)

26. Banh uot (steamed rice rolls)

27. Banh da cua (red noodle soup with crab)

28. Ga luoc (boiled chicken)

29. Canh chua (sour and sweet tamarind soup)

30. Banh khoai (Hue pancake)

31. Banh chuoi (Vietnamese banana cake)

32. Banh com mien Tay (pop rice from Mekong Delta)

33. Dua hanh (pickled shallot)

34. Goi ga (Vietnamese shredded chicken salad)

35. Banh da lon (steamed layer cake)

36. Cao lau (roasted pork with cao lau noodles)

37. Bo bia (spring rolls with Chinese sausage)

38. Ca ri ga (Vietnamese chicken curry)

39. Pho xao (stir-fried pho)

40. Thit kho tau (Vietnamese caramelized pork belly)

41. Hu tieu Nam Vang (Nam Vang noodle soup)

42. Nem nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork sausage)

43. Bo la lot (grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf)

44. Vietnamese hotpot

45. Bo ne (Vietnamese steak and eggs)

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