Soup noodle dishes are some of the most famous things to eat in Vietnam.
And there’s no denying they are delicious.
But there are other dishes, like minced meat wrapped in herbaceous leaves and grilled over charcoal, known as bo la lot, that happens to be one of my favorite delicacies from Vietnam.
In this post I’m going to share with you one of the best (and most delicious) bo la lot eating experiences I had in Saigon.
This is a dish you don’t want to miss eating when you’re in Vietnam!
What is bo la lot?
Fully known as thit bo nuong la lot (thịt bò nướng lá lốt), this Vietnamese dish includes minced beef mixed with garlic and shallots and some simple spices, wrapped into wild betel leaves (also known as piper lolot leaves), rolled up like cigars, and grilled over hot charcoal.
After the bo la lot rolls are finished grilling, they are served accompanied by Vietnamese rice paper, bun vermicelli rice noodles, and a host of herbs and raw vegetables on the side.
Finally, some extra dipping sauces, and freshly crushed chili, is what elevates the flavor of bo la lot to even higher levels of delicious.
The mix of of flavorful meat grilled in an herbaceous leaf, paired with raw vegetables, and being able to assemble each roll yourself, are the reasons why bo la lot is such an amazing Vietnamese dish.
Where to eat bo la lot in Saigon?
When I was in Saigon I ate bo la lot at a number of different places from street food to sit-down restaurants.One of the most famous areas in Saigon to eat bo la lot in is along Ton Duc Thang road.
The problem is:
These street food stalls that serve bo la lot are typically only open at night, and I wanted to eat it for lunch.
So I was searching online, and browsing Foursquare when I came across Cô Liên Bò Lá Lốt, and to my delight, they not only opened for lunch, but the restaurant was located just down the road from my hotel, a place I had walked past numerous times and hadn’t spotted.
It didn’t take my wife and I long before we headed straight there.
I immediately loved how they had all the bo la lot, and other meats neatly displayed in a cabinet facing the street.
Most of the things were pre-grilled (probably in the earlier morning) to about 80% I’m guessing, then as soon they would get an order, either take-out or dining in, they would throw the skewers of delicious meat on the grill to finish them off so they were fresh, but didn’t take more than a few minutes to cook.
We were greeted with a friendly smile by the owner of the restaurant as we entered.
The menu at Cô Liên Bò Lá Lốt was simple, yet included everything you could want to eat at a bo la lot restaurant.
Ying and I decided to get one order of bo la lot, one order of bo mo chai, and then some extra cha gio, deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls, on the side.
While on the street in Saigon bo la lot might only cost 25,000 VND, the prices here were 55,000 VND, but they were much bigger size, and in my experience better quality.
HOW DID IT TASTE ?
What I really love about eating bo la lot is the mixture of all the flavors, textures, and the combination of meat and vegetables all wrapped up together.
Starting from the center, the beef was a little bit sweet with a hint of citrus, and flavored with perhaps a hint of spice or curry powder and salt. The wild betel leaf, which has a very unique flavor (something I really love), gave each roll a very green earthy taste.
The extra herbs were crisp and fresh, and the sauce had a nice flavor of ginger, sweetness maybe from tamarind, and some fermented fish sauce.
It was incredibly delicious.