Lẩu is a Vietnamese communal dish with a simmering pot in which diners cook and share meats, seafood, and veggies.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
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Fact: Lẩu is easy to find in many family-style restaurants and street vendors in Vietnam.

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Basic Information

Lẩu: Basic Information



Alternative Name(s)


Dish Type

Boiled dishes


Main Course


Lunch, Dinner
Origin and Region

Lẩu: Origin and Region



Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Lẩu Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Lẩu: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Beef, or chicken, or fish, or shrimp, etc., and vegetables (e.g., leafy greens)

Main Cooking Method

Simmering or boiling

Preparation Process

Prepare broth, arrange raw ingredients for dipping, maintain simmering broth on the table.
A Deep Dive

Lẩu: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

An ideal food for social and family gatherings


Savory, sour


Tender meats, seafood, crunchy vegetables, silky tofu, etc.


Rich, or fragrant, etc.


Clear, or deep brown, or red, etc.

Serving Style

A communal pot in the center of the table

Serving Temperature



Dipping sauces





Special Diets



Varied based on ingredients



Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Shabu-shabu
  2. Sukiyaki
  3. Instant-boiled Mutton
  4. Jeongol
  5. Thai Suki
  6. Fondue

Popular Dining Area

Restaurants, family homes, or street vendors

Lẩu, also known globally as hot pot, is a popular dish in Vietnam featuring a simmering pot of broth placed at the center of the dining table. Diners gather around, cooking various raw ingredients like meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles directly in the pot.

Lau Overview

The broth of lẩu varies from a simple, clear stock to rich, spicy, and aromatic flavors, often reflecting regional specialties and personal tastes across Vietnam. In general, lẩu offers a hearty and warming meal, making it ideal for cooler weather.

The origin of lẩu is believed to be traced back to the three-legged pots from the Zhou dynasty in China. Nowadays, the hot pot’s popularity has spread to many countries, especially in East and Southeast Asia and even some European countries.

In Vietnam, varieties of lẩu vary based on regions, including North, Central, and South. Though they are different in ingredients and flavor, the way locals serve and enjoy lẩu are similar.

After that, the article will cover the advantages and disadvantages of consuming Vietnamese-style hot pot, as well as its differences from shabu-shabu, the Japanese-style hot pot.

Lastly, don’t forget to check some common concerns regarding lẩu and its similar dishes. Now, let’s jump right into the reading to uncover Vietnamese hot pot.

Key Points

  • Lẩu is Vietnam’s version of the global hot pot.
  • It is central to the dining experience with a pot of broth simmering on the table.
  • Lẩu is a social, interactive meal, ideal for cooler weather.
  • Ingredients of lẩu vary with five main groups: broth base, meats and proteins, noodles, vegetables, herbs and aromatics.
  • Lẩu is diverse in styles with various regional varieties.

Lẩu Images

What Are Common Lẩu’s Ingredients?

Ingredients for lẩu are diverse based on regional touches or preferences. They can be grouped into five main categories, including broth bases, meats and proteins, noodles, vegetables, and herbs and aromatics.

Ingredient GroupsExamples
Broth BasesBeef bone broth
Chicken broth
Seafood broth
Vegetable broth
Spicy lemongrass broth (for lẩu Thái)
Meats and ProteinsBeef
Goat meat
Seafood (fish, shrimp, squid, clams, mussels)
Tofu (firm, soft, or fried)
Tofu skin
Fish cakes
NoodlesRice noodles
Glass noodles
Egg noodles
VegetablesLeafy greens (spinach, watercress, lettuce)
Bok choy
Napa cabbage
Morning glory
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
Herbs and AromaticsThai basil
Green onion

With diverse ingredient options, lẩu comes in various varieties, and it also reflects the Vietnamese region’s tastes and traditions.

What Are Popular Lẩu Variations Based on The Vietnamese Region?

Vietnamese lẩu are abundant in styles and vary significantly across different regions of Vietnam. They reflect the local ingredients, flavor, and cooking traditions. Here are some popular regional variations of lẩu in Vietnam’s three main parts: North, Central, and South.

In Northern Vietnam

Here are three famous hot pots with their distinctive features in Northern Vietnam.

Lau Cua Dong

A variation from Hai Phong, including freshwater crab, often served with red rice noodles, grilled chopped fish, meats, and vegetables

Lau Oc

A snail hot pot featuring beef shank, meatballs, tofu, boiled snails, and fresh vegetables, with a broth that’s sour, sweet, and spicy. Popular in Hanoi.

Lau Vit Om Sau

A duck hot pot with a blend of sour dracontomelon fruit, sweetness from potatoes, and a spicy kick from chili paste and spices.

Next, let’s fly to the Central part of the country and find out what they have for lẩu.

In Central Vietnam

Each region has its own special lẩu styles. Check the below examples for more information about the Central-based lẩu of Vietnam.

Lau Ga La E

Originating from Phu Yen, this hot pot has a rich and slightly sweet broth paired with Ocimum graveolens leaves, chicken, fresh bamboo shoots, mushrooms, etc.

Lau Tha

A traditional fisherman’s hot pot from Phan Thiet, featuring freshly caught and seasoned anchovies, served with noodles, fresh herbs, sliced pork belly, and thinly sliced omellete.

Moving on, you’ll explore choices of hot pot delights in Vietnam’s southern part.

In Southern Vietnam

Below are three celebrated hot pot varieties from the Southern region of Vietnam.

Lau Ca Keo

A popular Southern Vietnamese rustic dish featuring mudskipper fish, tomatoes, and served with Glinus herniarioides.

Lau Mam

A distinctive Mekong Delta hot pot made with fermented fish paste and served with vegetables and fish.

Lau Thai

A sour and spicy hot pot inspired by Thai flavors, typically including seafood, thinly sliced beef, tomatoes, and various veggies.

After delving into the regional lẩu variations across Vietnam, let’s now focus on how locals serve and enjoy this communal delicacy.

How To Serve and Eat Vietnamese Lẩu?

Serving and eating lẩu is an interactive and communal dining experience that involves cooking and sharing food at the table.

A hot pot setup includes a portable burner (gas, coal, or electric) with a pot of boiling broth in the center. Raw ingredients are placed around it, and diners cook the food in the broth until it’s cooked.

In the meantime, diners can add noodles to their personal bowls, then use a spider spoon to pick up food items in a boiling broth pot and add the soup later. This is a shared meal, so remember to use separate utensils for handling the soup and ingredients to maintain cleanliness.

Dipping sauces are common accompaniments to lẩu so that diners can dip their desired items in the sauce for more flavor.

In the next part, you’ll have a better view of both the good sides and drawbacks of consuming Vietnamese-style lẩu.

Pros and Cons of Eating Lẩu

Check the following table to unveil lẩu’s pros and cons.


  • Diverse Flavors: Lẩu offers a variety of flavors, with broths ranging from savory to spicy, catering to different palates.
  • Nutrient-Rich: With an assortment of vegetables, meats, and seafood, Lẩu can provide a balanced meal rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Social Dining Experience: Eating Lẩu is a communal activity, perfect for family gatherings and social events, enhancing the dining experience.
  • Customizable: Diners can choose their preferred ingredients, making them suitable for various dietary preferences.


  • Risk of Overcooking: Cooking each ingredient perfectly can be challenging, potentially leading to overcooked or undercooked items
  • Heat Factor: Cooking at the table can raise the temperature of the dining area, which might be uncomfortable in already warm climates.
  • Potential for Cross-Contamination: Using communal utensils for raw and cooked foods can pose a risk if not managed properly.

After weighing the pros and cons of lẩu, I’ll next compare it with shabu-shabu to understand the dissimilarities between these two popular hot pot styles in two different Asian countries.

Lẩu Vs. Shabu-shabu, What Are The Differences?

In the culinary view between lẩu and Shabu-shabu, I’ll discuss their differences across various aspects, such as popularity, broth composition, ingredient selection, dipping sauces, eating style, cooking methods, flavor profiles, and accompaniments, in the table.

Read on to see other commonly asked questions about hot pot in Vietnamese style.

Lẩu FAQs

Lẩu can range from non-spicy to spicy depending on the type of broth and ingredients used.

Lẩu is a communal Vietnamese hot pot filled with meats, seafood, and vegetables, meant for sharing. Pho is an individual noodle soup, clear and aromatic, typically featuring beef or chicken.

Yes, you can use pho broth as a base for lẩu. The aromatic spices and rich flavors of pho broth can provide a delicious foundation for the hot pot ingredients to be cooked in.

Vietnamese lẩu typically features a lighter, whereas Chinese hot pot offers a wider variety of broths, including very spicy flavors. Some Chinese hot pot broths include medicinal ingredients.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert


  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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