Do you have an interesting or memorable food moment? Seems like most of us have some sort of interesting and memorable food story or stories that are ingrained in our memories that we just cannot forget.

Bo 7 mon is considered to be one of Vietnam’s most iconic cuisines. It is considered more of a high-end cuisine, a crowd pleaser and definite food porn. You cannot simply eat all seven courses on your own but rather with a small group of friends or family. The seven courses have gone through variations over the years but it is still relatively unchanged and is normally served in this particular order listed below.

Goi bo or beef salad is normally the first dish served, made with pickled daikon, pickled carrots, cucumber, onions, hung que (chopped Thai basil) and thin strips of beef. Topped with fried onions, chillies, coriander, roasted peanuts and nuoc cham (marinated fish sauce).

Bo nhung dam, which are thin slices of raw beef quickly cooked in a vinegar fondue. Wrapped in rice paper with cucumber, carrots, thin slices of unripe star fruit and banana, vermicelli noodles and assorted herbs and then dipped in mam nem. Mam nem is a marinated fermented fish sauce made from anchovies mixed together with roasted peanuts, pineapple chunks, minced garlic, chilli paste and chopped lemongrass. Another variation is to grill instead of the vinegar fondue, but that depends on personal preferences.

Bo cha dum (steamed meatloaf or meatball) made with ground beef, bean thread vermicelli noodles, minced onions, garlic, carrots and shredded wood ear or shiitake mushrooms. Topped with roasted peanuts, cilantro and served with deep fried shrimp crackers. Bo nuong mo chai (grilled ground beef sausages wrapped in caul fat). Caul fat, or fat netting, is the thin membrane surrounding the cow stomach and internal organs often used for sausage casings all over the world. The look, aroma and taste is absolutely amazing. Wrapping each succulent sausage with rice paper along with all the herbs and vegetables is fantastic.

Bo la lot, or grilled minced beef wrapped in lolot leaf. Lolot leaf, also known as betel, is very similar to a grape leaf, and is popular in Vietnam, Thailand, Lao and Malaysia for wrapping grilled meats and salad. In Vietnam, lolot leaf is wrapped over marinated minced beef, grilled over charcoal and then topped with chopped spring onions and roasted peanuts. The look, taste and aroma of lolot is very mesmerizing. This is one of my favourite dish out of the seven courses.

Bo nuong hanh is grilled strips of beef marinated in five spices, wrapped together with green onions and a wedge of onion or scallion. The taste is sweet, sour and salty. It sort of resembles a Korean BBQ with the look of Japanese nikumaki. The hearty chao bo (beef congee or beef porridge) is normally the last dish served to end the seven courses of beef feast. If you still have enough stomach space this is a great way to end the meal. Made with ground beef, minced garlic, dried shrimps, rice porridge or tiny alphabet noodles. Topped with minced scallions, cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts. For me, the best 7 courses are located in California’s Orange County such as Pag o Lac and Anh Hong, simply due to the quality of the beef. However here is the best option for a local version of the seven courses meal:

Au Pagolac
978 Tran Hung Dao Street // District 5, HCMC // Telephone +84 8 3836 6543 // Open daily 10:00am to 10:30pm

Arguably one of the most iconic restaurant in Vietnam. Currently Au Pagolac is the oldest 7 courses of beef restaurant in Saigon but despite their longevity they are not the first. That distinction goes to Anh Hong Restaurant. Anh Hong family all migrated to California and open a chain of their restaurants there and are no longer in Vietnam. But luckily for us Au Pagolac is still here.