Find out about a Vietnamese food that is perfect for family meals and a favorite street food at the same time: Bo La Lot (grilled beef in wild betel leaf)!
Last time when we listed 20 best Vietnamese dishes, we didn’t include this amazing dish and now we’re making up for it by giving you a full guide to eating Bo La Lot (grilled beef in wild betel leaf) in Ho Chi Minh City!
Are you new to Ho Chi Minh City? Then also check out:
What You Need to Know about Bo La Lot
1. It is made of 2 main ingredients: beef and wild betel leaf (“Bò” and “Lá Lốt” respectively in Vietnamese). Beef is ground to become the filling, maybe mixed with a bit of pork to ensure a soft texture and fatty taste.
2. Beef (“Bò” in Vietnamese) is among the most expensive kinds of meat in Vietnam, about double the price of other popular protein like pork, chicken, freshwater fish. So beef can be considered quite a luxury for many Vietnamese families.
3. Wild betel leaf (“Lá Lốt” in Vietnamese), also known as lolot leaf, is “wild”, growing naturally in Vietnamese family gardens, without any effort or care from the garden owners. This kind of leaf tends to grow in places with little sunshine, under the shade of bigger plants. In general, it’s very easy to find or buy wild betel leaf in Vietnam.
Wild betel leaf is cheap and easy to find in Vietnam, unlike the expensive beef
4. Bo La Lot originates from southern Vietnam, but its popularity has spread to the north and central Vietnam. It is a favorite dish in family meals, especially for children, since the wraps of finely seasoned beef in betel leaf is usually fried and children love all crispy things.
5. How Bo La Lot is made
- Finely seasoned ground beef: thanks to Vietnamese typical condiments like pepper, salt, sugar, garlic, shallot, and spice powder. Some recipes may also include chicken stock and speck.
- Wild betel leaf: handpicked from garden and rinsed carefully to remove dust.
- Wrap beef in the betel leaf.
Beef is placed in the paler face of the leaf, and the wrap or roll is closed with the short stem of the leaf
- Fry or grill the wraps: Both betel leaf and beef gets cooked quite fast, that’s why this combination is possible and perfect.
- Toppings: After the wraps (or rolls, if you would) gets grilled or fried, crushed peanuts and scallion oil can be added as toppings to enhance the flavor.
- Dipping sauce: fermented fish sauce (less strong than traditional fish sauce) seasoned by a bit of water, sugar, and chili (if you don’t want spicy food, ask the cook to leave chili aside).
6. How Bo La Lot is served
Bo La Lot can be eaten with rice, as the main dish in a meal. Or, as commonly seen in restaurants and street food eateries, it is served with rice vermicelli (regular type “bun”, or mini-sized “banh hoi”), rice paper a lot of fresh herbs and veggies – notably we have sliced starfruit and unripe banana for this Bo La Lot dish, and dipping sauce.
Roll Bo La Lot wraps in rice paper with herbs
Bo La Lot rolls
Where to Eat Bo La Lot in Ho Chi Minh City
Related: How to read addresses in Vietnam
Bo La Lot Co Lieng
Address: 321 Vo Van Tan, District 3
Opening hours: 8 AM – 11 PM
Price: VND 75,000. There are also Bun Thit Nuong (rice vermicelli and grilled meat) and other grilled meat or grilled fish delicacies ranging from VND 40,000 to VND 120,000.
Co Lieng (Ms. Lieng) is no doubt the best choice out there to try Bo La Lot in Ho Chi Minh City. The price is 3 times the average price of street eateries, but diners know they buy the secure feeling of good hygiene and high-quality beef betel leaf rolls. The portion of noodles served with Bo La Lot here is quite modest, the big rolls of beef in betel leaf are bound to fill up your tummy. No wonder this restaurant and the lovely female owner are loved by both local and international foodies.
Bo La Lot Co Lieng outside and inside
A rewarding serving of Bo La Lot at Co Lieng; veggies are clean and shiny green; noodles are quite modest though
Pictures of Co Lieng with her dear customers and Hygiene Certificate on the wall
The menu at Bo La Lot Co Lieng
There is a smoke chimney at the grill furnace at Co Lieng, unlike other street eateries which let smoke travels around
Bo La Lot Hoang Yen
Address: 121 Co Giang, District 1
Opening hours: 4 PM – 10 PM
Pricing: VND 25,000
Our quick comment: the beef is too sweet for our taste. But the portion looks neat and the local atmosphere is worth appreciating. Only US$1 for a good serving. Located in a popular food street so you can go around and try other Vietnamese specialties too.
Bo La Lot is constantly grilled at Hoang Yen to serve relentless guests
A portion of Bo La Lot at Hoang Yen – 121 Co Giang, District 1
Bo La Lot 105
Address: 105 Nguyen Van Cu, Ward 2, District 5
Opening hours: 4 PM – 9 PM
Price: VND 25,000
To our surprise, this small eatery serves very decent Bo La Lot: the beef is authentic well seasoned; served with “banh hoi” (mini-sized rice vermicelli) instead of regular noodles like other places. Rice paper comes in a dipping device, very convenient for diners (see picture below). A worthy place but quite difficult to spot, and the space isn’t ideal, since we sit on the pavement of Nguyen Van Cu street, which gets crowded and dusty at peak hours.
Bo La Lot 105 Nguyen Van Cu with modest space and not-so-outstanding signboard
A decent portion of Bo La Lot. There’s a special dipping tool for rice paper
A bubble tea cart next to it if you feel like trying
Important note: One of the most well-known places to eat Bo La Lot in Ho Chi Minh City is Ton Duc Thang Street (District 1) which is filled with Bo La Lot street vendors. However, since we have tried out the Bo Lat Lot there, we strongly advise against you doing the same thing. Hygiene is a big concern, and the meat really stirs some suspicion in us as we were eating it. We felt so insecure finishing our portion (see picture below) that even the generous amount of rice vermicelli and veggies and fresh herbs could not compensate for it.
A serving of Bo La Lot at Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1
Summary of Bo La Lot – Grilled Beef in Wild Betel Leaf in Ho Chi Minh City
Bo La Lot again is a mirror for the spirits of Vietnam food culture, combining between the green and rich protein. Really worth a taste!
To try out genuine Vietnamese food and drinks, check out our highly-rated i Love Food Tour, check out our authentic motorbike tours with professional local guides!