Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

Even to the majority of the Vietnamese population, the name Bun Ken (“Bún Kèn”) is still unfamiliar which can explain why you can’t easily find where to eat this dish even if you want to. 

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

Bun Ken originally is a dish from South Vietnam, can be seen a lot in Ha Tien City, Chau Doc City, and other areas of Kien Giang and An Giang provinces. The dish has always been praised as one unique treat of southern cuisine, including Phu Quoc – the pearl island.

What makes Bun Ken is different from the other noodles?

Bun Ken in Phu Quoc Island has some similarities to noodles (“bún”) dishes on the Vietnam mainland. 

First, it’s the broth which must be made with coconut juice, spiced with citronella, and five other flavors to create a kind of broth that has a savory yellowish color, together with a light aroma and fatty, sweet taste. 

The second thing is the vermicelli that is served with the broth which must be thin. It makes it easier to eat with the herbs like bean sprouts, cucumber…. 

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

The different thing is the toppings. On the Vietnam mainland, Bun Ken is topped with snakehead fish, Bun Ken in Phu Quoc Island is served with Yellowtail scad (“cá ngân”) (Atule mate), which is a rare species of fish that is hardly found elsewhere in Vietnam except Phu Quoc.

The fish meat used in a bowl of Bun Ken in Phu Quoc must be grounded into thick pemmican. By grinding the fish meats are mixed thoroughly when stir-frying with the spices – citronella, chili, and garlic… until the fish meat becomes crunchy. Then add coconut juice, fish stock, salt, pepper and leave the mixture until thickened.

A bowl of Bun Ken is made of many colors – white of vermicelli and bean sprouts, green of herbs, orange of ground papaya, golden of the broth, and fish meat. With all of that, the taste is perfected with the sweetness from coconut juice, fatness from grounded fish, spiciness from chili, freshness from all the herbs….

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

Where to eat Bun Ken in Phu Quoc?

In Phu Quoc, Bun Ken could be found in many restaurants. But, the best choices are only two vendor stalls:

  1. A vender of a woman near Dinh Cậu night market,
  2. And the other one is Út Lượm on April 30 street, Duong Dong ward.

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl IslandBún Kèn Út Lượm on April 30 street, Duong Dong ward, Phu Quoc City

So you might think it’s difficult to find these stalls. So if you’re serious about eating Bun Ken, get close to locals and ask them to show you the way. The cost for one Bun Ken bowl will be the same as that of any other noodle soup on the mainland, like Bún Bò.

If you are interested in Phu Quoc cuisine, you should come to the night market on Bach Dang road. Or book a street food tour guide. We’re sure your stomach will be satisfied there.

Bun Ken – A unique dish from Phu Quoc Pearl Island

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.