Bot loc, the integral Hue dumpling

Originating in the former Imperial City, Hue cake bot loc comes in four different yet uniformly enticing variations.

Hue cuisine is famous for its diverse specialties, especially water fern cakes, flat rice dumplings, and last but not least bot loc. Each dish has a distinct flavor and a unique way to enjoy. Bot loc is a clear-looking, chewy dumpling made of tapioca or rice flour and comes in four different ways.

Bare bot loc

Tourists in Hue can easily spot ladies selling unwrapped bot loc on sidewalks throughout the ancient town in central Vietnam. Common fillings include shrimp and mung bean. The dish is served with a sweet and sour fish sauce, crispy fried shallots, coriander, pork rinds, and chili oil.

For an added fee, you can order pork sausage (cha) with your bot loc. A portion costs from VND10,000 -15,000 ($0.43-0.65). Some recommended eateries for boiled bot loc include Aunt Hue’s at 91 Dang Huy Tru Street and Cung An Dinh at 179 Phan Dinh Phung Street.

Relish the bare bot loc while watching the vendor swiftly adds seasoning and sauces.

Fried bot loc

Fried bot loc is a variation of the unwrapped variety. Once the pieces of dough are packed with shrimp and nicely shaped, they are dropped into a hot pan full of oil instead of a steamer. The result is little inflated, milky-colored, crunchy, and rich pockets. The dish is often served with chili sauce or chili fish sauce.

Visitors can find this delicious dumpling at 134 Thach Han Street or next to Quang Trung Elementary School on Nguyen Hue Street.

Fried bot loc is a popular after-school snack amongst Hue students because of its affordability, costing a mere VND5,000-10,000 a pop.

Wrapped bot loc

This is the ultimate Hue gastronomical specialty and what people first think of when they hear the term bot loc. Similar to other varieties, this type of bot loc is made from tapioca starch with a shrimp and pork belly filling for flavor and aroma.

Each dumpling is individually wrapped in a dong or banana leaf that not only gives it its distinct look but also a nice herbal hint when steamed.

Hue locals commonly enjoy these dumplings dipped into a potent fish sauce with local chili for some extra heat. Wrapped bot loc is sold at most local eateries specializing in Hue cuisine, at VND3,000-5,000 a piece.

We recommend Aunt Cu’s water fern cake at 23/177 Phan Dinh Phung Street or Aunt Do’s at 8 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street.

Wrapped bot loc also makes for a great souvenir and is a popular choice among tourists, freezable as they are for up to 90 days.

Vegetarian bot loc

Vegetarian dishes are also popular in the town. This version is most suitable for vegetarians, as it substitutes the usual shrimp and pork belly filling with a minced combination of tofu, carrots, and cloud ear mushrooms.

Instead of fish sauce variations, this dish is eaten with soy sauce and fresh chili. Vegetarian bot loc is offered at a wide range of vegetarian restaurants in Hue, many of which can be found on Nguyen Cong Tru Street. One piece usually costs VND6,000.

Hue, capital of Thua Thien-Hue Province, was home to the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam's last royal family (1802-1945). The town owns many UNESCO-recognized heritage sites.