Bánh Mì Lá Lốt


The evening before I departed for San Diego, The Astronomer, Rosalind, Zach and I drove to District 8 to check out xom dao (Catholic neighborhood). I edited an article for the Saigon Times about “rock caves” constructed by the churches and residents in the neighborhood, and was mighty curious about the spectacle.

It turned out that everyone in Saigon was also excited about the annual display because the streets of xom dao were packed to the max with motorbikes, families and vendors of all sorts. The mysterious “rock caves” were huge nativity scenes dressed up in lights, waterfalls (!), snowmen, Santa and of course, baby Jesus. The Three Wise Men were nowhere in sight. It was a funny mix of pagan and religious characters with a dash of Vietnamese cheese and excess. We loved it.

Due to the hoards of revelers in the streets, it took us three hours or so to go from one end of the street to the other. Somewhere in between, we bought three bánh mì lá lốt to nosh on. Lá lt are little rolls of distinctly spiced meat wrapped up in leaves and grilled. The vendor was generous and loaded each sandwich with ten pieces of meat along with pickled carrots and daikon and a squirt of chili sauce.

All four of us agreed that the sandwiches were hearty and delicious. Bánh mì lá lốt seems to be a District 8 delicacy, along with thit cay (dog meat), because we have not seen it sold elsewhere in the city.


7 Responses to “Bánh Mì Lá Lốt”

  1. 1 Nhu December 28, 2007 at 2:41 am

    Happy Holidays! hope you guys had a very merry Christmas 🙂

  2. 2 Gastronomer December 28, 2007 at 3:33 am

    Thanks, Nhu! Merry Christmas to you too and have a wonderful New Year!

  3. 3 Raine January 6, 2008 at 4:34 am

    I just wanted to thank you a lot for your wonderful website! I found it while reading another blog, and spent the whole day reading about your trip in VN. My parents are both from VN, but they came to America to start a new life, I showed some of my mom your posts, and she was overjoyed to see things from her homeland. Thanks so much (I also was able to practice reading a lot of viet (: )

  4. 4 Gastronomer January 7, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Raine – thanks so much for the kind words! I’ll be in Vietnam for seven more months, so look out for some more tasty delights from the motherland ;-). Food memories are the best.

  5. 5 Raine January 8, 2008 at 3:38 am

    I’ll be sure to continue following your blog! Does that mean you’ll be there for Tet this year? My favorite time of the year (: Quick question, did you get sick often from eating the food? Whenever I converse with others who’ve recently gone on a trip to VN, they tell me they spent a lot of time in the bathroom ):

  6. 6 Gastronomer January 8, 2008 at 8:50 am

    NOPE! Not even once!! I have an iron clad stomach 😉 On the other hand, The Astronomer got sick a couple of times, but nothing major.

    I will be in town for tet! Does your family ever say, “vui nhu tet”? I can’t wait to see what that really means.

  7. 7 Raine January 11, 2008 at 10:19 am

    I just asked my mom, and after she tried very hard to explain what it meant to me, the words finally clicked in my head (I can’t read vietnamese very well, but I speak it decent (: )

    vui = fun
    nhu = emphasis type of word ex. “like”
    Tet = Lunar New Year.

    It means ‘fun like Tet!’ My mom says it usually isn’t said alone, but goes along with some other phrases like “I had so much fun today, as fun as Tet is!’. Or something like that, I hope that helps somewhat.

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