What is a Vietnamese Meat Dish – See a List of Our Favourites

Bo kho

Bo kho is your run-of-the-mill meat soup done Vietnamese-style. This beef and vegetable Vietnamese stew is cooked with spicy herbs, at warm temperatures, and served very hot. Baguettes are usually provided alongside bo kho, meant for dipping. This is one of several Vietnamese meat dishes that exhibit a clear influence from French colonization.

Cha lua

Cha lua is a Vietnamese sausage made from lean ground pork, sometimes fried. It is also affectionately known as ‘cha chien’ by some. Though this sausage involves ground pork, customizations include the ‘cha ga’ with chicken, ‘cha bo’ with ground beef, ‘cha chay’ with vegetarian sausage or tofu, and ‘cha ca’ with fish.

Ga nuong sa

Ga nuong sa is a mix of grilled meat with lemongrass. The original recipe involves using grilled chicken however plenty of other variants exist including most popularly grilled beef. All customizations still follow the same formula of meat grilled with lemongrass as its primary flavor.

Bo 7 mon

Bo 7 mon is a multi-course meal consisting of seven beef dishes. This style of eating was very popular during the French colonial era, at a time when beef was becoming more popular. The courses in a Bon 7 mon would typically be given out as follows, from first to last.


1. Bo bit tet – thinly sliced beef steak served with lettuce and tomato.
2. Bo cha dum – steamed ground beef patties served with shrimp chips.
3. Bo nhung dam – raw slices of beef cooked in a vinegar-based fondue.
4. Bo nuong mo chai – sausages made from grilled ground beef wrapped in caul fat casing.
5. Bo la lot – grilled ground beef wrapped in a Lolot leaf.
6. Bo nuong sa te – grilled minced beef marinated and wrapped in another piece of thin beef.
7. Chao bo – beef congee.

Ca 7 mon

Ca 7 mon uses seven courses of fish, as opposed to seven courses of beef. Ca 7 mon, as a Vietnamese multi-course meal, developed in the years after Bo 7 mon was popularized. Unfortunately, Ca 7 mon never caught on in the same way culturally and isn’t often used.

Nem nuong

Nem nuong is grilled meatballs usually created from seasoned pork. Nem nuong is usually colored red with food coloring and has a very distinctive taste. It is grilled on skewers akin to shish kebabs. The marinade is usually made predominantly from fish sauce but can include several herbs and spices as well. Nem nuong is very popular in Vietnamese cooking as an appetizer or snack. It is also sometimes served as a main course with rice noodles or rice.

Gio thu

Eaten cold, gio thu is a brawn created from fresh bacon, pig’s ears, garlic, scallions, onions, black fungus, fish sauce, and cracked black pepper. It is another example of French and Vietnamese cuisines amalgamating and creating a truly multi-cultural dish. Although gio thu isn’t favored in Canada or in the West, it is a use of meat very popular in Vietnam and surrounding regions.

Bo luc lac

Bo luc lac is a French-influenced Vietnamese beef dish. How it is prepared is by cutting beef into cubes and marinating them. They are then cooked and served over greens, usually watercress. Bo luc lac is sometimes sautéed in onions and tomatoes. It can be eaten independently or with rice as a main course meal.

Bo luc lac is commonly known in North America as ‘shaking beef’. At one time, beef was a luxury ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. For this reason, you wouldn’t normally see bo luc lac served often outside of formal events such as weddings and anniversaries. These days, beef is much more common and so it is a meal eaten frequently by families. Although this is clearly a Vietnamese dish, it is sometimes mistaken as a Cambodian dish.

Nem nguoi

Nem nguoi is a variation on traditional nem nuong meatballs. Originally popular in central Vietnam, nem nguoi are made from reddish meat covered in peppers and often with chili peppers. They are small and rectangular, stuffed with vermicelli, and chilled. As a cuisine not known for its spicy-ness, nem nguoi may be the spiciest Vietnamese food there ever was. As nem nguoi is so spicy, it is exclusively served in restaurants as a cocktail snack. If you don’t appreciate spice, skip this one!

Seafood dishes

There is a strong seafood culture in Vietnam, using fish from local coastlines to feed families, farmers, and cities. Although we can’t possibly recount all of the seafood dishes in Vietnam cooking, here are four favourites worth knowing. If you like seafood, check these out.


? Ca cuon ho – a roll with fish and spring onions inside.
? Ca kho to – caramelized fish cooked in a clay pot.
? Chao tom – a prawn paste or cake on sugarcane.
? Banh tom – a prawn and sweet potato fritter.

Some of these uses of meat in Vietnamese cooking have proven to be very popular in cities like Toronto. Others unfortunately have faded into the past or have never truly left the borders of Vietnam. This is the basis on which a lot of meats in Vietnamese cuisine are prepared. TorontoPHO’s menu includes a lot of multi-use meats, including beef, shrimp, pork, chicken, vegetarian meat, tofu, and others. Inspired by authentic, traditional Vietnamese dishes, visit TorontoPHO today to enjoy meat prepared a little differently compared to what you may be used to.