Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls (Bun Bo Xao)

One of the best cold Vietnamese dishes has to be these Vietnamese beef noodle bowls. It has been a ‘go to meal’ for my family for years since it is so easy to make. Each bowl is filled with rice vermicelli noodles and tender marinated beef strips. It is then loaded up with as many fresh herbs and vegetables as you want and at the end, tied together by an amazing traditional Vietnamese dressing (nuoc mam cham). This recipe is truly a crowd pleaser and well worth giving a go!

To be honest with you guys, this recipe was one of those last minute change ups. I had originally planned to make a salad this week but that fell through when Steph said it sucked. Of course her verdict came AFTER she finished a big helping of it for dinner. I personally liked it but when one half of the blog says your wrong then maybe… just maybe… the recipe needs a little more work.

Making Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls

This beef noodle bowl recipe is on the dinner rotation quite often since it is so tasty, healthy and easy to make. Our fridge is usually stocked with Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham) which we use as the dressing and pickled carrot, so it literally takes us under 20 minutes to get it all on the table.

The heart and soul of this dish has to be the Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham). There are so many variations of this recipe that it really comes down to personal preference. My family prefers it to be sweet and tangy for this dish and we like to drown our noodles in the sauce.

My Tips for Success

  • It is very important that the nuoc mam sauce has ample time to fuse with the garlic. A fresh batch of nuoc mam sauce will usually not taste as good until it allowed time to develop.
  • The nuoc mam sauce will need adjusting depending on the brand of fish sauce. This is because they all differ slightly in flavour and salt content. Always taste test your nuoc mam after infusion and adjust.
  • Do not be alarmed if you find the sauce a little too salty on its own. When added to the noodle bowl, it will dilute and mellow out.
  • You can use any rice stick / vermicelli noodle you like but the dong guan type is our favourite.
  • My mother likes to rinse the noodles after they have been cooked under warm water to remove the residue. This will prevent your noodles sticking together while they are resting / cooling.
  • Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon goes really well with this dish. You can find the recipe for this here.
  • I like to serve all the leftover veg and herbs on a platter and place it on the table so people can add more to their bowls. Also, don’t forget to serve the remaining sauce as well!
  • If you are super lazy (like me), you can buy salad mix! I have done it before and it does work well.
  • If you don’t have all the marinating ingredients on hand, then just season the beef strips with salt and pepper. The nuoc mam sauce will do the rest!

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Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Noodle bowls
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Scruff


  • 400 gm beef flank steak or whatever you can afford, cut into thin strips (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 240 gm rice stick / vermicelli (Dong Guan style) or 4 portions
  • Vietnamese dipping sauce (make a double batch)


  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic clove, finely chopped

Vegetable and Herbs

  • 5 – 6 lettuce leaves, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, roughly chopped in matchsticks
  • 250 gm bean sprouts
  • 1/4 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • handful of mint leaves (optional)
  • Vietnamese pickled carrots
  • crushed peanuts (optional)


  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Mix in the beef strips and leave aside.

  2. Combine all the nuoc mam sauce ingredients. Cover with cling wrap and leave aside until needed.

  3. Prep all you vegetables.

  4. Cook your rice noodles as directed on the packaging and leave it in strainer until needed. 

  5. In a large fry pan or skillet on high, add 1 tbsp of oil and cook the the beef strips until done.

  6. Taste test your nuoc mam sauce and adjust it to your liking. (Do this only after the garlic has had time to infuse)

Bowl Assembly

  1. In each bowl, place the rice noodles in first and then all the toppings on top. Pour the nuoc mam sauce over the top and finish with crushed peanuts. 

Recipe Notes

  1. If you’ve got a cheaper cut of beef steak then it’s worth tenderising it first. To do this, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and rub it into the meat. Cover with cling wrap and leave for 20 minutes. Then wash the meat thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels.

2 thoughts on “Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls (Bun Bo Xao)

  1. Love the recipe! I don’t normally eat beef much so fidning a good recipe that helps tenderize the meat with the marinade really helps since I’m not much of a good cook! Thanks!

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