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Vietnamese crab noodle soup

Vietnamese crab noodle soup (bun rieu): an unmissable local dish to savor

16/11/2023 15 views

Vietnamese crab noodle soup is a popular and delicious local dish. Explore its regional differences, how to make it yourself, and where to savor the best bowls.

Vietnamese crab noodle soup is a delightful blend of flavors and textures

Vietnamese crab noodle soup is a delightful blend of flavors and textures (Source: Collected)

Vietnamese food is renowned for its rich flavors, aromatic herbs, and diverse dishes that tantalize taste buds. One such dish that has captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide is the Vietnamese crab noodle soup, known as “bun rieu cua.” This delightful combination of fresh crab, vermicelli noodles, and aromatic spices creates a symphony of flavors that embodies the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.

1. What makes Vietnamese crab noodle soup a favorite dish?

Vietnamese crab noodle soup holds a special place in the hearts of Vietnamese food enthusiasts due to its delectable taste and charming presentation. This beloved local dish captures the essence of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, bringing together a delightful medley of flavors and textures.

At its core, Vietnamese crab noodle soup features fresh crab, which is meticulously prepared to extract its succulent meat. The crab meat is ground into a smooth paste and mixed with aromatic spices, creating a flavorful base for the soup. The distinguishing feature of this dish lies in the preparation of the crab broth. The essence of the crab, with its rich and savory notes, is carefully extracted to form a hearty soup base.

The soup is served piping hot, topped with vibrant garnishes. Small yet satisfying rice vermicelli noodles, locally known as “bun”, provide the perfect base for the dish. The soup is generously garnished with fresh, crisp vegetables such as lettuce, cilantro, and sliced tomatoes. 

Vietnamese crab noodle soup

These colorful vegetables not only enhance the visual appeal but also add a refreshing crunch to every spoon of Vietnamese crab noodle soup (Source: Collected)

In the bustling streets of Vietnam, food vendors skillfully prepare this dish along with other kinds of Vietnamese noodles, ensuring each bowl is a harmonious blend of flavors. The sweet and savory notes of the crab, the freshness of the vegetables, and the comforting warmth of the broth make “bun rieu cua” a favorite choice among locals and tourists alike.

>>> Learn more about different dishes featuring Vietnamese vermicelli noodles!

2. Differences in Vietnamese crab noodle soup between the North and the South

Vietnam’s culinary landscape is diverse, and the regional variations in Vietnamese crab noodle soup reflect this richness. In Hanoi, located in Northern Vietnam, the locals take a meticulous approach to their Hanoi cuisine. Here, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is typically served with rare beef, adding a unique twist to the dish. The broth, prepared with utmost care, captures the essence of the crab, creating a soul-warming experience for those indulging in this northern delight.

As you venture south to vibrant cities like Ho Chi Minh City, the culinary scene takes a different turn. In South Vietnam, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is often prepared with a more diverse range of ingredients. The locals in the South are known for their creativity, often experimenting with various elements to create bold and flavorful dishes. Here, you might find the soup enriched with ingredients like blood pudding and pig trotters, elevating the dish to a whole new level of indulgence.

Both Vietnamese crab noodle soup varieties offer a delightful experience for your taste buds

Both Vietnamese crab noodle soup varieties offer a delightful experience for your taste buds (Source: Collected)

>>> Interested in food travel? Check this article out!

3. How to make authentic Vietnamese crab noodle soup?

Cooking an authentic bowl of Vietnamese crab noodle soup requires a meticulous blend of ingredients and techniques. If you are wondering how to make Vietnamese crab noodle soup, check out this easy Vietnamese crab noodle soup recipe.


  • Fresh crab
  • Tomatoes
  • Tofu
  • Vermicelli noodles
  • Spinach, banana blossom, bean sprouts, and basil
  • Scallions, pepper, lemon, and onion
  • Vinegar, salt, shrimp paste, and fish sauce


1. Soak the crab in water for an hour, then rinse and peel the shell. Pound the crab meat with salt in a mortar. Put it in a pot with water, stir well, strain the liquid, and discard the residue. Scrape out the crab paste and set it aside.
2. Clean and cut the tofu into small pieces. Chop scallions, spinach, bean sprouts, basil, and tomatoes finely. Slice banana blossoms thinly and soak them in vinegar-mixed water to keep them fresh.
3. Stir-fry the crab paste with onions. Remove and stir-fry the tomatoes briefly. Bring the crab broth to a boil, add sautéed tomatoes, and continue cooking until the crab meat floats. Reduce heat, add crab paste, season to taste, and set aside.
4. Blanch the vermicelli in boiling water. Transfer it to a bowl.
5. When serving, pour the crab broth over the noodles. Add tofu and vegetables on top.

A warm bowl of Vietnamese crab noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food

A warm bowl of Vietnamese crab noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food (Source: Collected)

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4. Is there any vegetarian variation for Vietnamese crab noodle soup?

While Vietnamese crab noodle soup is traditionally a seafood delight, there’s a vegetarian version for those seeking a meat-free alternative. You can try this vegetarian Vietnamese crab noodle soup recipe at home.


  • Fried tofu
  • Fresh tofu
  • Soy milk
  • Straw mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrot
  • White radish
  • Chayote squash
  • Finely chopped lemongrass
  • Vermicelli noodles
  • Fresh vegetables: Sliced banana blossom, split water spinach, lettuce, basil, etc.


1. Clean and chop the mushrooms, carrots, white radish, and chayote squash. Slice tomatoes.
2. Crush fried tofu and mix it with finely chopped straw mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sugar, and ½ teaspoon vegetarian seasoning powder. Heat oil in a pan, sauté lemongrass until fragrant, then add the tofu-mushroom mixture. Stir-fry until firm, then set aside.
3. In a clean pot, add chopped mushrooms, carrots, white radish, and chayote squash. Pour 1.5 liters of cold water and bring to a boil. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables and add 1 liter of soy milk to the pot. The soup will naturally thicken, resembling the texture of crab meat.
4. Blanch vermicelli in boiling water, then place it in a large bowl. Top it with the vegetarian “crab”, tofu, tomatoes, and finely chopped scallions. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and garnish with fresh vegetables.

Vietnamese crab noodle soup

This delightful plant-based variation captures the essence of traditional Vietnamese crab noodle soup while catering to vegetarian preferences (Source: Collected)

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5. Where to eat Vietnamese crab noodle soup on your trip?

Travelers can easily find Vietnamese crab noodle soup eateries in most destinations across Vietnam. For those looking to indulge in the authentic flavors of this culinary delight, here are some recommended addresses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

5.1. Vietnamese crab noodle soup restaurants in Hanoi

  • Bún Riêu Tuấn Anh: No. 35-37 Hong Mai Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi

Tuan Anh eatery offers high-quality crab noodle soup in Hanoi with a variety of toppings such as beef, pork knuckles, crab paste, tofu, fish cakes, eggs, crab claws, and dried shallots. They also serve a special crab hotpot for larger groups.

  • Bún Riêu Huyền Thu: No. 2F Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Huyen Thu is renowned for its delicious crab noodle soup, attracting visitors from far and wide. Although priced slightly higher than average, the diverse toppings include stuffed snails, beef tendons, corned beef, and pork ears, making it worth the experience.

  • Bún Riêu Hoàng Kỳ: No. 122B C5 To Hieu Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi

This eatery offers a spacious and well-decorated environment with refreshing air conditioning. Despite smaller servings, their flavorful broth and options like tender beef and chewy fish cakes enhance the dining experience. Fresh vegetables are also available for a crisp and refreshing accompaniment.

In Vietnam, every region has its unique twist on Vietnamese crab noodle soup

In Vietnam, every region has its unique twist on Vietnamese crab noodle soup (Source: Collected)

5.2. Vietnamese crab noodle soup restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

  • Bún Riêu Gánh Chợ Bến Thành: No. 163 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Situated near Ben Thanh Market, this humble eatery, despite its simplicity, captures the hearts of many locals and travelers. The Vietnamese crab noodle soup here includes crab paste, tofu, blood pudding, tomatoes, and more. The ingredients are fresh and well-prepared, creating a delicious and clean-tasting broth.

  • Bún Riêu Cô Hương Béo: No. 19B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

If you are craving Hanoi-style crab noodle soup while in Saigon, consider visiting Co Huong Beo eatery in District 1, loved by many for its aromatic broth and various toppings. A bowl from this place is loaded with ingredients like tofu, beef, balut eggs, pork ears, crispy fritters, snails, and balut embryos. The quick service ensures diners get their steaming bowls promptly.

  • Bún Riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân – Cô Chang: No. TK18/5 Nguyen Canh Chan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

This eatery is a renowned spot for Vietnamese crab noodle soup enthusiasts. Their menu boasts various options, including crab noodle soup with snails, sausages, crab paste, and more. Despite the higher prices, the quality and long-standing reputation of this place make it a worthwhile culinary adventure.

The aroma of Vietnamese crab noodle soup fills the bustling streets of Saigon

The aroma of Vietnamese crab noodle soup fills the bustling streets of Saigon (Source: Collected)

>>> Check out popular restaurants in Vietnam where you can savor authentic Vietnamese food!

Vietnam is surely a culinary paradise waiting to be explored. Embark on a Vietnam travel to discover all of the deliciousness Vietnam has to offer! 

It is highly recommended that you visit top cities like Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc for the most fulfilling experience. These cities boast a diverse and rich culinary heritage that will tantalize your taste buds.

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As you embark on your culinary journey through Vietnam, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the exquisite flavors of Vietnamese crab noodle soup. With its diverse regional variations and the joy of preparing it yourself, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is a true gastronomic treasure that captures the heart and soul of Vietnamese cuisine. So, go ahead, explore the flavors, and let the delightful taste of Vietnamese crab noodle soup transport you to the bustling streets of Vietnam, where food is not just a meal but a celebration of culture and tradition!

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