Bún bò originated in Huế, a former capital of Vietnam. Outside the city of Huế and some parts of central Vietnam, it is called bún bò Huế to denote its origin. Within Huế and surrounding cities, it is known simply as bún bò. The broth is prepared by simmering beef bones and beef shank with lemongrass, and then seasoned with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar for taste. Spicy chili oil is added later during the cooking process.
The preparations are named with the addition of qualifying adjectives referring to a wide variety of distinct soups or puddings which may be served either hot or cold. Each variety of chè is designated by a descriptive word or phrase that follows the word chè, such as chè đậu đỏ (literally "red bean chè").