Bun Cha is a typical Hanoi dish, decidedly everyday, and much loved by locals . To the consternation, no doubt, of the Secret Service (who were very cool about it) I was recently joined for dinner by the leader of the free world in a working class joint near the old quarter of town for an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown .
  1. The President is very comfortable with chopsticks. He handled the sticky, hard to separate noodles that accompany the pork and the broth components of Bun Cha skillfully. He even went in for seconds.
  2. The President is an Asiaphile. He spoke wistfully of his time in Indonesia and his memories of the smells and flavors of street food there.
  3. He clearly enjoyed sitting on a low plastic stool eating bun Cha . It felt to me like his night off. Even with Secret Service lurking nearby .
  4. The reaction among regular people in Hanoi to the fact that the US President chose to eat Bun Cha was beyond all imagining. The effect was unbelievable.People were actually crying the next day, describing to me their shock and their pride, the reactions of their neighbors, to this completely unexpected choice of meal—and the venue.
  5. He was among the very few guests on my show who ever asked the camera crew if they got to eat too.And he made a point of taking a picture with all of them when we were done.
  6. I believe he enjoyed that beer.