Exploring Phu Quoc specialties, diners cannot help but rave about Ken noodles - a local delicacy which is extremely fragrant and delectable. The sweet rich coconut juice, combined with aromatic herbs, creates a totally unique flavor. Made from typical species of saltwater fish particularly found in Vietnam’s southwestern sea, this dish definitely deserves a place in your list of what to eat in Phu Quoc.
1. Ken noodles - a famous Phu Quoc specialty
Ken noodles (bun Ken) were first made by the Khmer minority group living in Ha Tien district of Kien Giang province. The name “Ken”, also known as “Khen”, is a loanword from the Khmerian language which means dishes cooked with coconut juice. This specialty is a delicate combination of saltwater fish, white rice noodles (bun), raw vegetables and herbs, pickles, and broth.
The main ingredients of the flavorful broth (or nuoc leo) consist of coconut juice, minced fish, curry, and five-spice powders. The fish used for bun Ken Phu Quoc are yellowtail scad fish (ca ngan) or barracuda fish (ca nhong). Meanwhile, Ken noodles in other places in the Mekong Delta region are made from snakehead fish. The fish are carefully selected, cleaned, and fileted. After that, they are chopped and ground, then sautéed with garlic and chili. The cook will use coconut juice to boil the fish and season to taste.
The mixture is cooked until it becomes slightly viscous and has a deep amber color. It is the coconut juice which gives the fish-based broth a lovely creamy texture while fresh herbs add a distinctively sharp tang.
2. How to eat Ken noodles the right way?
When a diner orders Ken noodles, servers will quickly put white rice noodles in a bowl and add a variety of raw vegetables, soy sprouts, green papaya salad, fresh herbs, etc. on top. Then, the prepared broth with minced fish is poured into the bowl. Before enjoying the dish, you should mix all these foods well. Additives like lime juice and sweet-and-sour sauce are always available on the table for you to add. And don't forget a little fresh or dried chili to make the dish more aromatic and spicy.
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3. Top 7 highly recommended places to enjoy Ken noodles in Phu Quoc
3.1. Di Hong Ken noodles
Made by a street vendor near Dinh Cau market, bun Ken di Hong has enchanted both locals and tourists in Phu Quoc with the strong flavor of saltwater fish. The Ken noodles here are served from early morning to around 9 or 10 am. If you want to try bun Ken Phu Quoc at this food stall, remember to get up early and enjoy it before they run out of noodles!
3.2. 87 Phu Quoc Ken noodles
Bun Ken 87 Phu Quoc is located right in the central area of Duong Dong town, near many well-known attractions such as Phu Quoc night market, Duong Dong market, etc. The Ken noodles here are made from traditional ingredients with a unique recipe, served with attractive sweet-and-sour sauce which will surely satisfy any taster.
3.3. Ut Luom Ken noodles
Located in the center of Duong Dong town, Ut Luom has been serving Ken noodles since 1980. Their reputation grew so greatly that many other Ken noodle sellers in Phu Quoc even copied the name of Ut Luom on the signboards. However, Ut Luom has only one authentic address, which is No. 42, 30/4 street, Duong Dong town, Phu Quoc city. Note this location and come try the real bun Ken Phu Quoc made by Ut Luom!
3.4. Co Thu Ken noodles
Co Thu is a famous Ken noodle seller in the center of Phu Quoc. Here, all the steps to make bun Ken, from selecting ingredients to cooking, meet the standards of food hygiene and safety. The broth is specifically cooked from yellowtail scad fish caught in the waters of Phu Quoc, so it is extremely tasty and will satisfy every taste bud.
3.5. Di Lien Ken noodles
Di Lien has been serving Ken noodles for a long time, along with other Phu Quoc specialties like chicken glass noodle soup, thick noodle soup with mackerel, etc. Here, Ken noodles made from barracuda fish are a perfect combination of ingredients, such as curry powder, five-spice powders, coconut milk, etc. Even the most demanding diner will love this wonderful dish at the very first bite.
3.6. Nam Cua Ken noodles
The Ken noodles at Nam Cua are a not-to-be-miss for visitors coming to Phu Quoc. With prices ranging from 20,000 to 25,000 VND, a bowl of bun Ken Phu Quoc here is full of herbs, soy sprouts, vermicelli, papaya salad, and ground fish. Besides, they also serve noodle soup which is also delicious, with shrimp, pork, quail eggs, dried squid, etc.
3.7. Nang Ken noodles
Nang has become a familiar place for breakfast among many customers due to their unforgettable taste of Ken noodles. The broth here is cooked according to a super strange recipe, creating an unmistakable Ken noodle dish of Nang. This eatery is located close to the city center, so it is easy to find and always crowded with diners.
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The colorful and attractive Ken noodles are no doubt a must-try for all fans of Phu Quoc cuisine. This specialty, made from rich fish and sweet coconut juice, will leave a marvelous taste in your mouth. If you still do not know what to do in Phu Quoc, trying Ken noodles is certainly an excellent suggestion!
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