Savory Vietnamese Dishes – A Look Into The “Bun” Family (Part One)

I was sitting by the vendor that late Tuesday night, enjoying every single drop of the broth from my favorite “Bun Rieu” and thinking why do foreigners only know about “Pho”, “Banh Mi”, etc. when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine? Because there are more to what Viets eat, there are more to what tourists attractions in Vietnam are showing the world. Thinking of that makes me feel sorry for the “Bun” family, which has been around forever and still haven’t got the attention they deserve. That is why I am writing this article with a view to offer you a brief introduction to the “Bun” family.

“Bun” (Bún) is basically vermicelli. Yes you can use “noodle” for it but it is not accurate, at least for us Vietnamese. Our noodle is made with egg, which means it has a light yellow color to it. But “Bun” is fresh, white and fermented. “Bun” is the main ingredient of all the dishes that have “Bun” in their names (Bun Bo Hue, Bun Rieu, Bun Moc, Bun Thit Nuong, etc.).

  1. Bun Rieu (Crab Ball And Snail Vermicelli Soup).

The Vietnamese are among the most meticulous and creative people. Do you know why? Because we have Bun Rieu. Bun Rieu is a member of the remarkable “Bun” family in Vietnam but it stands out for its fine soup, accompanied by raw veggies and our exclusive shrimp paste. In order to make the soup, the cook must simmer dried shrimp or pork bones for hours to make the broth, then cook with tomato, crab ball, tofu, snails, blood pudding, pork sausage , seasonings and other ingredients. Raw vegetable for this dish consists of split water spinach, perilla, bean sprouts, sliced banana blossoms. The shrimp paste is a whole story. Shrimp paste is made of the best shrimps, fermented for 9 months to 1 year. The noodle used for Bun Rieu is a very thin type of vermicelli, which feels so subtle in your mouth. Therefore, eating a bowl of Bun Rieu certainly provides you everything you need in the food pyramid. Bun Rieu is jaw-droppingly delicious with the natural flavor of broth, slightly sour tomato and more. Not only taste good, Bun Rieu also looks great with the yellow color of turmeric, red tomato, golden tofu, white vermicelli, black snail and green veggies. One more great thing about Bun Rieu is you can have it as breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime you want. So, how can you resist a healthy and delicious dish that will surely be the highlight of your Intagram page?


The “Bun” used for Bun Rieu is the type that has very thin haulms.


What a typical bowl of Bun Rieu looks like 😛 Now you cannot look me in the eye and say this does not make your mouth water 😀

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Veggies served with this dish are : split water spinach stems (morning glory), split banana blossoms, basil, bean sprouts.


Yummy! Shrimp paste! 

2. Bun Bo Hue (Hue Spicy Beef Noodles/Vermicelli Soup)

First thing first, every Bun Bo Hue eater must be acknowledged that “Hue” is a city in the middle of Vietnam where the dish comes from. The “Bun” in Bun Bo Hue is different from the “Bun” in Bun Rieu as its haulm is thicker, which makes it easier for people that are not fans of chopsticks. However, Bun Bo Hue has a good stronger smell thanks to lemongrass, fish sauce, all the ingredients combined. And what makes it look good, apart from the variation of ingredients, is also because of the color from achiote paste.


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 If you think “Bun Rieu” is already difficult to make, try not to be surprised as “Bun Bo” ranks so much higher on the difficulty scale. The broth for Bun Bo is a whole story to tell. It is simmered with pork bones, lemongrass and other kinds of herbs that can intensify the aroma, lemongrass, fish sauce. Every ingredients must be fresh, well-prepared and cooked in very long hours. In a bowl of Bun Bo,  you will find pork, beef, pork and beef bones, fish sausage, pork sausage, shrimp sausage or even crab sausage! In this article, I will not go into how these types of sausages are made, because it would make this article 5 times longer. But overall, I can describe it as a long and complicated process that involes many steps from preparing to cooking and wrapping.

cha cua be

Chả cua (crab sausage)


chả lụa (pork sausage)


Chả bò (beef sausage)

bun-bo-hue (1)

The vegetable we eat with Bun Bo : lettuce, split water spinach, split banana flower, bean sprouts, basil.

So, the taste is too good for words to describe. But in brief, it would be spicy, savory, flavorful, very rich and strong. Accompanied with many types of veggies and lemon juice, the dish should taste, well, heavenly.



These are the two most famous types of Bun. In the next entry, us Saigon Food Tour will show you more types of Bun that are not well-known. Be sure to prepare a tissue with you, cause we are going to make you drool so hard ! Stay tuned 😉