October 23, 2007
129 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Goi Cuon (3,000 VND/roll)
Banh Xeo Dac Biet (25,000 VND)
The Astronomer and I drive on CMT8 daily as part of our commute to work. While he’s concentrating on delivering us to our destination safely, I am on the lookout for new eateries to try. Long Huy has been on my list for quite sometime, and we finally dropped in for lunch a few weeks back when we weren’t in the mood for our usual vegetarian fare.
Long Huy is a very pretty restaurant and was packed on the afternoon we visited. The entrance houses a fairly large open kitchen with rows of woks for sizzling-up the restaurant’s signature dish, banh xeo. The dining room is spacious with plenty of chairs and tables for the hoards of patrons in need of a crepe fix. In addition to banh xeo, Long Huy’s menu includes over 300 other Vietnamese items.
We began our meal with goi cuon—three for The Astronomer and two for me. The rolls contained large boiled shrimp, boiled pork slices, vermicelli noodles, and greens. The accompanying hoisin-based dipping sauce was well-executed, as were the rolls.
While visiting Da Nang in early September, I chowed down on banh xeo for lunch daily. Although I was unaware at the time, The Astronomer thought I was eating an omelet. As an egg-hater, he never sampled the dish. Ever since discovering that it is in fact not an egg-y creation, The Astronomer has been wanting to revisit banh xeo.
Unlike the tiny crepes in Da Nang, Long Huy’s banh xeo were humongous (see head to “head” comparison below). The Astronomer and I shared the banh xeo dac biet, which was filled with bean sprouts, shrimp, squid, ground beef, and pork and served with nuoc mam and a tray of herbs and lettuce.
The giant crepe was damn fine and on par with grandma’s, which is saying an awful lot. My only complaint is that with such a large banh xeo, much of the filling goes towards the center, leaving the outskirts barren. If Long Huy can figure out how to evenly distribute the goods, they’ll be golden!
The ins and outs of banh xeo:
The crepe’s batter is made of rice flour, coconut milk, water or dairy milk, potato starch, turmeric powder, and salt, blended till smooth then left to stand for 30 minutes or so.
The sliced onions and pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and cooked mung beans are stir-fried till the shrimp are about half-cooked before pouring the batter over the mix, shaking it under the filling and letting it all pan-fry till its underside is crisp and golden-brown.
The open crepe is then briskly folded in half and its edges pressed and sealed together, before being served up on an open plate alongside a bowl of the wrapping leaves and a saucer of chili-ed nuoc mam.