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Vietnamese crab noodle soup (Bun rieu): A rustic dish with amazing flavors

Alongside beautiful scenery, Vietnam’s tourism brings many renowned specialties. Among them, Vietnamese crab noodle soup (bun rieu) stands out with its soft noodles, tasty broth, greasy crab paste, and various fresh vegetables, all coming together to create a truly unique dish. The distinctive taste of bun rieu will surely bring a delightful culinary experience during your Vietnam travel.


1. Origin and key ingredients of Vietnamese crab noodle soup

Bun rieu is a variation of Vietnamese vermicelli noodles with its origins in the northern region, which has now become a popular breakfast of the locals. The essential ingredients for a bowl of Vietnamese crab noodle soup include fresh rice noodles, crab paste, tomato, shrimp paste, vinegar, and scallion. Compared to traditional bun rieu, the version in Hanoi includes various other toppings such as stir-fried beef, pork cartilage, fried tofu, balut, snails, etc.

Unlike in Hanoi, people in Saigon prepare this Vietnamese food with more ingredients, as the dish here represents a harmonization of flavors from various places. In Saigon, diners can find numerous bun rieu stalls offering different Vietnamese crab noodle soup recipes which typically consist of rice noodles, crab cakes, tomatoes, shrimp paste, and tamarind sauce. Additionally, cooks often add cashew oil to give the broth a visually appealing red color.


2. How to make Vietnamese crab noodle soup?

2.1. Preparations

To cook a bowl of authentic Vietnamese crab noodle soup, you need to prepare the following ingredients:

  • Crab
  • Tomato
  • Tofu
  • Vermicelli
  • Spinach, banana blossom, bean sprout, and basil
  • Scallion, pepper, lemon, and onion
  • Vinegar, salt, shrimp paste, and fish sauce


2.2. Instructions

Making bun rieu requires a series of steps to make a delicious savory broth. Refer to the following Vietnamese tomato crab noodle soup recipe for your breakfast:

  • Soak the crab in water for about 1 hour, then rinse it. Peel the crab shell and set it aside.
  • Put the crab in a mortar and add a little salt, then pound it finely. Put it in a pot with 3 large bowls of water, stir well, strain the liquid, and discard the crab residue.
  • Use a small spoon to scrape out the crab paste, then put it in a small bowl.
  • Clean the tofu, cut it into small pieces, and fry until golden.
  • Clean the scallions, spinach, bean sprouts, basil, and tomatoes, then finely chop them.
  • Slice the banana blossoms thinly crosswise and soak them in water mixed with vinegar.
  • Stir-fry the crab paste with onions in oil, then remove it to a bowl. Stir-fry the tomatoes for about 2 minutes and turn off the heat.
  • Bring the crab broth to a boil. When it boils, add the sauteed tomatoes. Continue cooking until the crab meat floats, then reduce the heat, add the sauteed crab paste, season to taste, and turn off the heat.
  • Blanch the vermicelli in boiling water, then transfer it to a bowl. When eating, pour the crab broth over the noodles, add tofu and vegetables on top, and enjoy.


3. What is Vietnamese crab noodle soup served with?

Besides the delicious broth, to fully savor the flavors of Vietnamese crab noodle soup, you also need to mix in various spices and fresh vegetables, such as coriander, mint, lettuce, bean sprout, cilantro, basil, banana blossom, etc. To further enhance this noodle soup bowl, don't forget to add some lemon, ground pepper, chili, bamboo shoots, or shrimp paste for an attractive taste.


4. Best places to eat Vietnamese crab noodle soup

Vietnamese crab noodle soup is a beloved dish nationwide, so you can enjoy it in most tourist destinations throughout the country. Here are some great places in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where you can savor bun rieu when you are in Vietnam.

4.1. In Hanoi

Bun rieu Huong Beo: 15C Hang Cot, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

  • For food enthusiasts, Bun rieu Huong Beo near Dong Xuan Market is always on the list of the most beloved places for crab noodle soup in Hanoi. The bun rieu here is delicious, with tender beef and tasty broth. A bowl typically comes with a variety of toppings, including tofu, crab, snails, beef, and pork cartilage.

Bun rieu Huyen Thu: 2F Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

  • When it comes to Vietnamese crab noodle soup, Bun rieu Huyen Thu is a staple. A bowl of bun rieu here may be priced higher compared to other places, but it is definitely worth the experience. The toppings at Bun rieu Huyen Thu are very diverse, including specials such as stuffed snails, beef shank, and ear sausage.

Bun rieu Hang Bac: 1 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

  • The Vietnamese crab noodle soup at Bun rieu Hang Bac is a very popular place for many connoisseurs of this dish in Hanoi Old Quarter. The sweet taste of the crab paste combined with the crispy fried onions has become a distinctive hallmark of this eatery compared to others.

Bun ziu ganh Co Yen: 18 Hang Khoai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

  • Located on Hang Khoai Street, Bun ziu ganh Co Yen is one of the best places to eat in Hanoi. The crab noodle soup here is affordable, yet still has a lot of toppings such as snails, beef, tofu, fish cakes, etc. The broth is rich and not too fatty, ensuring that you will not feel overwhelmed.


4.2. In Ho Chi Minh City

Bun rieu cua oc Co Thuy: 287/66 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

  • This is a great place to enjoy Vietnamese crab noodle soup in Ho Chi Minh City. Their broth is flavorful and satisfying, with tomatoes and fragrant fried onions. A bowl of bun rieu here is quite generous, with crab, meat, snails, and fresh vegetables, providing a balanced and nutritious meal.

Ben Thanh Market: 163 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

  • Another recommendation for a delicious Vietnamese crab noodle soup place in Ho Chi Minh City is Ben Thanh Market. The bun rieu here is cooked with the distinct flavors of the Southern region, featuring a rich and savory broth. A bowl usually consists of crab, blood pudding, tofu, and crab cakes. The crab paste is mixed with ground meat, giving it a delightful taste.

Bun rieu goc Co Chang: TK18/5 Nguyen Canh Chan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

  • Bun rieu goc Co Chang attracts diners thanks to their delicious flavors and fresh ingredients. Typically, a bowl of bun rieu here has crab cakes, crab, pork sausage, blood budding, pork rinds, and snails. The broth is rich, carrying the sweet essence of well-simmered bones. This place will definitely give you an interesting culinary experience.



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