Phu Quoc Island is renowned for not only its breathtaking natural beauty but also its cuisine, which ranges from fish sauce and herring salad to Ken noodles. Made from common local ingredients, Ken noodles offer an attractive visual and scrumptious taste that will make you fall in love on the first try.
1. Introduction to Ken noodles of Phu Quoc
Regarding Phu Quoc foods made from fish and seafood, goi ca trich (herring salad), bun quay (“stirring” noodles), and bun ken (ken noodles) are the three most famous Phu Quoc specialties. Among the three, Ken noodles seem to be the least popular with visitors, although its taste and visual appeal are hard to beat.
1.1. Origin of the name
The first Ken noodles (bun Ken) were created by the Khmer minority residing in Ha Tien District of Kien Giang Province. The name “Ken”, also known as “Khen”, is a Khmer loanword that refers to dishes prepared with coconut juice.
Bun ken Phu Quoc is rarely found on the menus of large restaurants. It is often sold at modest food stands and market vendors on Phu Quoc Island.
Ken noodles are a delicate blend of “ca ngan” (yellowtail scad), white rice vermicelli (bun), raw vegetables and herbs, pickled vegetables, and a special broth.
Coconut juice, ground fish, curry, and five-spice powders are the primary components of an aromatic flavored broth (known locally as “nuoc leo”). Ken noodles can also be found in the southern provinces, but there, people use snakehead fish instead of yellowtail scad.
The fish is selected, cleaned, and fileted with care. They are chopped and crushed before being sautéed with garlic and chili. The fish will be boiled in coconut juice and seasoned to taste.
The mixture is simmered until it becomes slightly viscous and has a rich amber hue. The coconut juice brings a delightfully creamy texture to the fish-based broth, while fresh herbs give it a distinctly sour flavor.
To create a complete bowl of ken noodles, the cook will place vermicelli in the bowl and top it with mango slices, bean sprouts, herbs, and fish sauce. Ground fish and “nuoc leo” are added last.
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2. Where to eat Ken noodles on your trip to Phu Quoc?
If you are wondering what to eat in Phu Quoc for breakfast, Ken noodles is a perfect choice. With an average price of 25,000 – 35,000 VND/bowl (approximately 1 – 1.5 USD), it is a very affordable and appetizing choice to kick start a new day.
Where to eat in Phu Quoc? You will see some stalls that sell Ken noodles while wandering along Phu Quoc streets. However, finding a good place to eat is not an easy game. Below are some reliable destinations for Ken noodles in Phu Quoc that serve some of the best noodles in town!
2.1. 87 Phu Quoc Ken noodles
- Address: No. 87, 30/4 Street, Duong Dong Ward
Despite not being as famous as other eateries of Ken noodles in Phu Quoc, Phu Quoc 87 is still a favorite location of the locals. Located on one of the busiest streets in Duong Dong Ward, it is very easy to reach. Here, the noodles are served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, making it easier for first-time eaters to taste.
2.2. Ut Luom Ken noodles
- Address: No. 42, 30/4 Street, Duong Dong Ward
Having served Ken noodles since 1980, Ut Luom is the most reputable Ken noodle eatery on Phu Quoc Island. This place only opens in the morning and is always full of diners. You may have to wait a few minutes, which is an opportunity to observe the seller’s artistic steps as they quickly prepare the dish for you to see.
2.3. Di Lien Ken noodles
- Address: No. 15, Bach Dang Street, Duong Dong Ward
The noodle stall of Di Lien is one of the best places for noodle fans to visit in Phu Quoc. This place not only serves Ken noodles but also other dishes like “banh canh ghe” (Vietnamese thick noodle soup with crab), “mien ga” (glass noodle soup with chicken), and “mi hai san” (seafood noodles). Colorful ingredients come together in perfect harmony, making your mouth water from the first look.
2.4. Di Hong Ken noodles
- Address: No. 4, Nguyen Trai Street, Duong Dong Ward
If you are looking for a good ken noodle stall near Phu Quoc Night Market, Bun Ken Di Hong is the place to come. With more than 30 years of history, Bun Ken Di Hong is a reliable destination to try the authentic taste of Ken noodles in Phu Quoc. You will fall in love at first bite thanks to the creamy coconut juice, the rich sweetness of crushed fish, and the spiciness of chili.
2.5. Co Thu Ken noodles
- Address: No. 98, Tran Quoc Toan Street, An Thoi Ward
While Duong Dong Ward is home to many eateries serving Ken noodles, it is much harder to find this dish in An Thoi Ward in the south of Phu Quoc Island, where Sao Beach and Khem Beach are located.
Bun Ken Co Thu is a popular place in An Thoi to enjoy the authentic Ken noodles. It is a small street stall with only some plastic tables and chairs. Opening early in the morning, Bun Ken Co Thu only serves a limited amount of Ken noodles, so make sure you wake up early to not miss out on this dish!
>>> Read more: Top things to do in Phu Quoc that travelers should experience!
Phu Quoc Island is an appealing destination for a vacation thanks to its delicate cuisine, untouched nature, rich culture, and long history. There are plenty of alluring tourist attractions to visit in Phu Quoc, such as Ong Lang Beach, Duong Dong Market, Phu Quoc Prison, Long Beach, Coi Nguon Museum, Vung Bau Beach, May Rut Island, Su Muon Pagoda, etc.
In addition, the island is also home to Vietnam’s largest theme park – VinWonders Phu Quoc. As a huge recreational complex, VinWonders Phu Quoc provides tourists with the best opportunities to relax and unwind after days of hard work. Here, you can get involved in several fantastic activities and games, as well as a plethora of enchanting cultural shows and events.
Notably, VinWonders Phu Quoc is located close to the system of Vinpearl Phu Quoc luxury beach resorts, a safari, a casino, and shopping centers, making it an ultimately convenient destination for your vacation.
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Bun Ken, or Ken noodles, makes use of Phu Quoc Island’s plentiful seafood and tropical fruit to create a dish that is deliciously rich, crunchy, sweet, and sour. It is undoubtedly a must-try local food that travelers should not miss out on when visiting this tropical paradise.
>>> Book tickets of VinWonders Phu Quoc for the utmost entertainment during your Phu Quoc trip!
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