Food File: Bun Nuoc Leo

Pottering around the brilliantly-named Chess Board Market in Ho Chi Minh City, I discovered a new dish, bun nouc leo (bún nước lèo).

Not knowing what lèo meant, my brain automatically translated the name of the dish as lion-water noodles (nước is water). Could a dish have a more appealing name?

bun nuoc leo

I pondered what food item could be called lion-water in Vietnamese. Then I asked Darling Man if lèo is lion in Vietnamese.

The answer was, sadly, no. He re-translated the name of the dish as noodles in a fermented fish broth. Not as appealing as my translation, but I still wanted to try it.

Darling Man told me bún nước lèo is a noodle soup from the Mekong Delta that usually contains snakehead fish. We ordered a bowl to share … and I think Darling Man shouted out something about “only a bit of fermented fish paste” because mắm is not my favourite thing in the world.

Our noodle soup arrived, accompanied by little dishes of herbs, lime and chilli.

bun nuoc leo

Darling Man, gallant as always, let me try it first.

And it was pretty good … probably a bit bland for a local because of the lack of mắm but I liked it. After I passed the bowl to Darling Man, he zizzed it up with a lot of chilli.

Bun Nuoc Leo

We found this bún nước lèo stall at Chợ Bàn Cờ (Chess Board Market), which is in and around 664 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street in District 3.


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7 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

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