Bun Bo Hue – Another Winning Bowl of Noodles in Saigon

By Mark Wiens 27 Comments
Bún Bò Huế
Bun bo Hue is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup dish

For years I’ve been eating noodle soups and dishes throughout Southeast Asia.

But at this little bun bo Hue restaurant in Saigon, is where I had my first bowl of noodles in a clear glass bowl.

That’s right, at Bún Bò Huế Chú Há, they not only serve a fantastic bowl of this delightful Vietnamese noodle dish, but it’s served in a clear glass bowl.

It was a revolution to me…

…for the first time ever, I could see what was floating around in the bottom of my soup, like a fish tank… only more delicious.

restaurants in Saigon
Why don’t more restaurants serve noodles in clear bowls?

Alright, now that you know how cool the clear bowl was, let’s move onto the food.

There are a near infinite amount of noodle dishes to try in Vietnam, and what seems to be a favorite for many locals, along with a few others, is bun bo Hue.

As the name suggests, it is originally from Huế, in central Vietnam, but it’s widespread and highly enjoyed in Saigon, at both indoor restaurants and street food stalls throughout the city.

I personally haven’t had a chance to visit Hue yet in my life, but if I do visit, I’ll be sure to report back about the noodles there.

For now, I’ll share about a great bowl of bun bo Hue I had during my time in Saigon.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há
The assembly station

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há

Located on the corner of Võ Văn Tần and Nguyễn Thượng Hiền street, is Bún Bò Huế Chú Há.

The restaurant is sort of half indoors, openly facing the motorbike filled street, yet tucked into a small room, so you have a chance to take a break from the hot crowded streets.

The food is served off a portable cart, which is permanently situated at the front of the restaurant, and proudly displays (like most other street food in Asia), the necessary ingredients used to compose a bowl of bun bo Hue.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há
The mound of rice vermicelli for Bún Bò Huế

The most noticeable ingredients you’ll see is the massive pile of tangly medium sized rice vermicelli noodles, of the fresh variety, proudly mounded into a pyramid (size may differ depending on what time you arrive).

I arrived in the late afternoon, hungry, and ready to slurp down; I order their speciality, of course, bun bo Hue.

Bun bo Hue
Individual bowls of noodles for bun bo Hue

Rather than flash boiling the noodles in hot boiled soup, like is the case for certain types of noodle soups in Vietnam, for this particular version, she just divvied the noodles into separate bowls, and then poured the hot soup over the noodles.

I guess because the bun noodles were fresh and already good to go.

best Vietnamese food
Slices of beef waiting to be stacked onto noodles

But before drowning the noodles in soup, she first layered on a few thin slices of beef, plus a piece of some type of Vietnamese sausage as well.

Vietnamese food
Stewed ox tail

And then came the most noticeably beautiful hunk of meat of them all, a gorgeous orange stained slice of ox tail (which is commonly used in the recipe I late found out).

Next, she ladled on a cup of red oily soup broth, and finally sprinkled on a handful of both chopped white onions and green onions, before delivering it to our table.

Bun bo Hue
But before I started to garnish…

Generosity in Saigon

Now as you probably know, I’m more than a little obsessed with taking photos of all the foods I eat (that’s part of the reason I blog).

So I spent probably a good five – ten minutes photographing the beautiful bowl of bun bo Hue, making sure to cover every angle of the hunk of orange meat as I could.

The duo of ladies that were head of the kitchen, and I’m assuming the owners of the restaurant too, laughed and smiled, as I intensely took photos of their handiwork.

After I was satisfied, I was about to start garnishing my bowl of bun bo Hue, which was a little on the cold side by now (don’t worry, with the amount of photos I take, I’m used to eating cold food), when one of the ladies, yelled out to me in Vietnamese.

I have no clue what she said, but she walked over to me, grabbed my bowl of noodles and said something along the lines of, “you have to eat the soup when it’s hot (in Vietnamese),” and she proceeded to actually dump out my soup broth, and refilled it with a fresh scoop of piping hot broth, and a fresh handful of onions.

She gave me a huge smile, and handed me back my bowl of beef noodles, to which I thanked her profusely.

I experienced this type of generous service and friendliness time and time again while eating in Saigon,

beef shin
Getting read to tear into that hunk of beef

Most Vietnamese noodles are garnished with an assortment of herbs like culantro and sweet basil, chili flakes and chili slices, and freshly cut limes, and bun bo Hue is no different.

One of my favorite parts of eating noodle soup is getting to garnish it according to my liking – and I like it with lots of lime juice, probably too much chili, and as many herbs and vegetables as are available.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há
Blanched vegetables

Along with raw basil and culantro, I also received a nice plate of blanched water morning glory, banana flower, and bean sprouts to accompany.

The broth of the bún bò Huế at Chú Há was wonderful, with a smooth beef flavor, a bit of red oil floating on top, salted to perfection (with likely some MSG included), and with a slight citrusy component to it.

Along with my personal addition of sour lime juice and chili, it was a wonderful well rounded broth.

The noodles were rice vermicelli, but unlike the rice vermicelli used in dishes like bun cha or bun thit nuong (which are equal to that of Thai khanom jeen), these rice vermicelli noodles were more like spaghetti in shape, and though they were soft, they were also bouncy at the same time.

But the real highlight in this bowl of bun bo Hue for me, was the main hunk of ox tail.

It was tender, but retained some of the wonderful beef grainy texture, and had perhaps a slightly lemongrass flavor to it.

I was served with a small bowl of what tasted like sweet tamarind sauce, which the mom of the kitchen motioned for meat to dip my slices of meat into, giving the meat a slightly fruity tart flavor.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há
Here’s the restaurant: Bún Bò Huế Chú Há

If you have a few minutes, watch the full video of this meal now:

(If you can’t see the video, watch it here)

Conclusion

Bun Bo Hue is an extremely popular Vietnamese beef soup noodle dish.

Although the original version of the dish comes from Huế, in the central part of the country, it’s hugely popular, and widely available in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) as well.

When I was in Saigon, just down the road from where I was staying*, was Bún Bò Huế Chú Há (Hạnh), a restaurant specializing in the dish, and when I walked past, I knew I needed to try it out.

Along with serving their version of bun bo Hue in an awesome clear see-through glass bowl, the soup was nicely balanced, and the beef was tender and flavorful.

I think overall, I still loved this bowl of noodles better, but I thought bun bo Hue was also delicious, and the service at this particular restaurant was top-notch – the ladies were very kind and friendly.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há is one of perhaps thousands of places to eat bun bo Hue in Saigon, Vietnam, but it’s a good place, and the kind service that I experienced will keep me coming back for more.

Bún Bò Huế Chú Há

Address: 300 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3, Tp Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Open hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily
Prices: 60,000 Vietnamese Dong for the deluxe bowl that I ate, including the ox tail chunk

How to get there: The restaurant is located pretty close to Tao Dan Park, right along Vo Van Tan. Click on “13. Bún bò Chú Há” to see the exactly position on my Saigon restaurants map.

What’s your favorite Vietnamese noodle soup?

27 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Linh

    2 years ago

    Great guy. Great posted.

  • Charles

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark, i’m a regular follower of you on youtube and have come across your site during my current stay in Vietnam. Thank you blotting out all the places you went to on the map. I want to do something similar myself, could you please tell me how you did that? Is there a website or an app that does it for you? Thanks and happy travels to you.

  • Saigon

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    Really enjoyed reading about your food adventures. Im planning for a 2-3 months trip exploring street foods across my country – Vietnam in 2 years and already noted down few places that i must visit from your blog.
    Just one correction: with Bun Bo Hue, the hunk of meat is not ox tail, but pork feet (shank?). And also, when using ox tail in other dishes, people dont use its skin cause its too tough to chew on. You will only see ox tail in no-skin form.
    Happy travelling and eating!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Saigon, good to hear from you. Yah, I was thinking the entire time I was eating that it was pork hock, but I thought it was odd that it was beef soup, but with pork added. But it really did taste like pork to me. Thanks for sharing that! Hope you have an excellent trip to Vietnam.

  • Tara

    4 years ago

    Hello Mark! I tried my first bowl of bun bo Hue yesterday as a result of your influence. Your batch looks way better. Mine had an overwhelmingly putrid gamey pork smell/taste that I found was emanating from these flat, rounded processed pieces of pork. I’ve only experienced such an offputting scent at a food stall in Tokyo. I hope I can get it sans pork or try this restaurant in HCMC myself!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Tara, sorry to hear that. In this bowl of bun bo Hue I didn’t notice any overly powerful gamey smell or taste, but I guess it could really depend on the meat used. Hope you can find a better bowl.

  • An Le

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark. bún bò Chú Há is one of my spot. But the orange meat is pork shank, not beef tail. Just so you know. And that place is not famous for their broth but their sweet tamarine dipping sauce.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hi An Le, very cool to hear that, and thank you for sharing. I actually was thinking it was a pork shank at first, and even for my first few bites I thought it was pork shank… but then I asked the lady and she said it was “bo”, but I still wasn’t sure. Thank you for clarifying, I was confused on this one. That tamarind sauce was great.

  • Suvro

    4 years ago

    Inspired by your post, I tried Bun Bo Hue at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant here in San Gabriel Valley – Vietnam House. I usually have their Pho Tai fillet, which I really like for the rich broth. I also do the Bo Bay Mon – 7 Courses of Beef – if I have a lunch companion, or one of their broken rice dishes, or their spring rolls and Banh Mi. But I had never tried their Bun Bo Hue.

    I came away disappointed. The broth had a very off-putting flavor, perhaps from the slightly off-putting flavor of the slices of cooked beef. The pork hock was not edible, and I did not like the cubes of blood. So it was a grand failure for my personal taste buds!

    There is a central Vietnamese restaurant – I have to give it a try there to see if they do a more palatable version.

  • haviet

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark, I am a Saigon street-food lover. If you come next time, please spend sometime trying Banh Canh vendor at the corner of Le Thanh Ton and Nguyen Trung Truc (dist.1), just opposite the Central Library. They are open from 9pm. Awkward, but they are worth being called the BEST Banh Canh in Saigon. Also try Banh Canh Cua and Bun Bo Hue at Huong Ngu Quan, located on Thach Thi Thanh (dist.1). They have one of best Bun Bo Hues there too.

    Your blog really inspired me. I have no decent Viet or Thai food here (Im also a big fan of Thai cuisine). How bad.

  • Ian

    4 years ago

    Nothing better than a steaming bowl of noodles … the beef looks so flavorful!

  • Stuart

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark
    Love your youtube videos. I can tell you’re passionate about food and I especially like your reactions after your first bite…
    Awesome … keep posting
    Hi from a sunny Cape Town ….

  • Huong

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    I just found your video recently and I love watching it! This is also my favorite noodles of all time. I’m currently live in Hillsboro, Oregon but wishing I could be in Saigon eating all the street foods with you! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hi Huong, thank you very much for watching really appreciate it. Are you originally from Saigon?

  • Kwong

    4 years ago

    OMG…. I could easily select Bun Bo Hue as my death row last supper. I eat it often in Vancouver Canada where I live. Unfortunately I foolishly did not seek this out when I visited HCMC. Now I must return and follow your tracks. From all that I have read it may take a month to visit all the places you have thus far written about.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Kwong, thank you for reading, glad you love bun bo Hue. Hope you can go back again and eat a lot more food, but glad you can get good Vietnamese food in Vancouver for the moment!

  • Andrea+Anastasiou

    4 years ago

    Yum! And you should definitely head to Hue when you get the chance. The street food there is amazing. My favourite dish was the Banh Beo!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Andrea, thank you very much, I really hope to visit!

  • MarkG

    4 years ago

    That clear bowl concept is quite unique. It could catch on – but only for clear/broth soups. It’s probably not a novel idea in Vietnam but could be an interesting novelty/unique selling point in other parts of the planet. At least you get an early warning about the dead toad resting on the bottom!

    One a serious health note: I have just realised, after watching many of your videos, that when you experience your many moments of taste bud explosion/food orgasm you always roll your head to your right. This may result in weaker neck muscles on your right as they are not getting enough stretching!

    I hope to see some neck rolls to the left in future for a more balanced workout.

    Happy eating.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Haha, hey Mark, thank you for stopping by. Yah, the clear bowl is so transparent, in a regular bowl you never know what could be down there!

  • Jenia from HTL

    4 years ago

    Oh this makes me miss Vietnam so much. Food glorious food. Hue was one of my favorite food stops in our 6 weeks in Vietnam!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you very much for reading Jenia, and cool to hear you enjoyed Hue. I really hope to visit in the future.

  • Melissa | Suitcase and Heels

    4 years ago

    Oh that looks delicious! I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get myself to Vietnam myself but I just may have to go visit the local Vietnamese restaurant for a big bowl of noodles.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you very much Melissa, hope you enjoyed your bowl of Vietnamese noodles!