We live in Hanoi, but when we really want to eat fabulously, we go to Hue, Vietnam's old imperial capital. It is located in the center of the country along the Perfume River, which serves as backdrop and source of the city's many fish markets, one of the bedrocks of its captivating cuisine. The Nguyen emperors, Vietnam's last dynastic rulers, were obsessed over a unified national identity, and codified a way of eating based on wet rice and fish sauce. They also held royal banquets 50 dishes strong. The city's cuisine remains a source of pride; dishes are bold, yet refined. At Tinh Gia Vien Restaurant, we revel in the elevated flavors of the old royal cuisine, snacking on morsels like banh bot loc, banana-leaf parcels of prawns and pork in a translucent tapioca dough. But the food of the street is equally compelling. At stalls in Dong Ba market, we devour the city's signature beef noodle soup, bun bo hue, shot through with lemongrass, fermented-shrimp paste, and chile oil. Wherever we eat in Hue we're guaranteed extravagant flavors.