A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Is loempia Vietnamese?

The first day I arrived in the Netherlands I was picked up at the airport by a very nice Dutch friend from the ISN Buddy Programme. We chatted a bit on our way to Leiden and at one point she told me “Oh, there’s a very nice place that sells loempia near your house!” and I was like “Okay.” I thought it’s just some kind of Dutch food. It was quite interesting that she didn’t really ask me if I know what loempia is; she assumed that I know. Only later I found out the place that she told me sell Vietnamese loempia (and it seems quite popular actually) and then I was like “Oh! It’s spring roll!”

After living here for a while I have noticed that loempia is quite a popular street snack that Dutch people seem to enjoy a lot. It’s sold everywhere, especially in markets and any kinds of outdoor events. But it bugs me a little bit that it is mostly known as Vietnamese food, while it is not! Technically it is also a kind of fried roll, but it is very much different from the spring rolls that I often have at home. I think it is closer to Chinese rolls, or probably more precisely the Indonesian lumpia.


Typical loempia that you can find in the Netherlands

Both the wrapper and the filling are quite different from the original Vietnamese version. Even though you can find that type of thick wrapper used in Southern Vietnam, we mostly use the very thin and transparent rice wrapper for the spring rolls. And while the filling of the loempia seems quite simple, the spring rolls have a lot more ingredients. It is a bit difficult to explain, so when my mom sent me some ingredients from Vietnam that I can’t easily find here I took the opportunity to demonstrate the making of the true Vietnamese spring rolls!


The filling consists of minced pork, eggs, chopped carrots, onions, black mushroom, jelly ear (don’t know the exact word in English) and vermicelli (the transparent type). There is a lot of room for creativity and each housewife will have her own recipe In my family we like to add some mayonnaise to enhance the taste. And you can see I use the very thin rice wrapper (which I cannot find here). 


Ready to be fried!


Spring rolls are very easy to make but quite time-consuming. That’s why at home we often make quite a lot at a time , pre-fry them a little bit and store in the freezer so they will last a long time. You can see the end result looks very different from the loempia sold in the Netherlands (or pretty much anywhere in Europe) 😛

I’m not saying the loempia here is bad, I’m just very curious how it turned out to be that way and still gets called Vietnamese. It’s probably modified to suit the Dutch/Western palette better. But then everyone who tried my homemade Vietnamese spring rolls are totally in love with them! Maybe I should open my own loempia business 😛

6 comments on “Is loempia Vietnamese?

    January 20, 2016

    I’m guessing that they are called ‘Vietnamese loempias’ because a lot these stalls were probably started by Vietnamese refugees in the ’80’s and maybe tweeked towards the already known ‘chinese-indonesian’ cuisine in the netherlands. But it’s just a guess

    • Phuong@theleidener
      January 20, 2016

      Thanks for your input, that totally makes sense! The loempias are the same almost everywhere in Europe so I thought it’s quite interesting 🙂

  2. Niki
    January 20, 2016

    Thanks for the post, it was quite informative. I laughed at the jelly ear ingredient. That sounds so wrong. 🙂

    • Phuong@theleidener
      January 20, 2016

      Glad you like the post 🙂 I know right, but the other English translation I could find on the Internet is something like fungus, which is not very good to use 😛

  3. Crystal@TheLeidener
    February 3, 2016

    And ‘loempia’ is actually an Indonesian word, we call it ‘lumpia’ in Indonesia 😀

    • Kk
      September 26, 2020

      Correction. Loempia (潤餅) is a Hokkien word that was adopted into Bahasa Indonesia, and then into Dutch. No doubt there wouldn’t be Loempia in the Netherlands without Indonesia, but we must still respect their Hokkien Chinese roots.

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This entry was posted on January 20, 2016 by in Living in Holland, Uncategorized.

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