Bánh Cuốn

January 31, 2008
Cuisine: Vietnamese

Nguyen Khoai Street
District 4, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: none
Website: none

Bánh Cuốn (10,000 VND)

Due to the tropical heat in Saigon, it seems as though life actually happens during the edges of the day. And by life, I mean food. The best (i.e. freshest and most varied) stuff is sold either early in the morning or after the sun sets. Lunchtime equals nap time in these here parts.

Now that I’ve properly quit my day job, I’ve started to venture out at night to try the evening offerings. One of my favorites thus far has been bánh cuốn.

Making bánh cuốn requires a delicate touch. A rice flour batter is spread thinly over a hotplate to cook for a few scorching seconds. Removing the ever-so-thin crepe from the steaming plate takes precision and patience. If the process is rushed, one ends up with a ball of rice flour rather than a dainty crepe. Next, the crepe is stuffed with a prefabbed mixture of ground pork and woodear mushrooms seasoned with ground black pepper and fish sauce. The crepe is then folded up like an egg roll.

The six rolls of bánh cuốn on my plate were topped with blanched bean sprouts, basil, fried shallots, cha (pork forcemeat), nem chua (fermented pork forcemeat), banh dau (deep-fried mung bean cake), and a healthy dousing of nuoc cham.

The bánh cuốn were so fresh that the heat from the griddle were still with them. Ahh… The crepe was light and held the meaty contents well. The nem chua was decent as far as sour salami goes, but I much preferred the plain ‘ol cha. The banh dau was a spongy doughnut that soaked up the nuoc cham nicely.


7 Responses to “Bánh Cuốn”

  1. 1 Yen February 15, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Wow, I’m so jealous (again)! Fresh banh cuon is one of my favorite meals, although I never found it in the evenings, we always had to get up early to get it for breakfast.

  2. 3 angel van February 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

    that looks so good…i wish that i could get some fresh banh cuon. but i don’t think that i ever had nem chua with it. but cha lua is always so yummy…

  3. 4 Gastronomer February 17, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Yen – Perhaps banh cuon at night is a District 4 phenomenon? At home we always eat it for breakfast, so it makes sense that it would only be available in the mornings.

    Wandering – My days at East Meets West are over. However, The Astronomer is still plugging away there 😉

    Angel – I’ve never had nem chua with banh cuon until recently. Cha is definitely best!

  4. 5 Wandering Chopsticks February 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Are you gonna do the editing/writing thing full time then? Or you’ve got something else? Hmmm. Wondering if *I* can get a gig full time there if I go? Well, something that would also cover my student loans back here too. 😛

    BTW, have you joined the Lainey Lurv group on Facebook? Excellent for solving blind items. 🙂

  5. 6 Gastronomer February 18, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Hello Wandering – Editing and writing is more than enough to pay the bills (student loans too!). Will gladly pass the torch to you in July if you move here.

    I have joined the Lainey Lurv group! I find the blind items impossible to solve, so the group will be helpful indeed. Do you love Lainey as much as I do?

  6. 7 Wandering Chopsticks February 19, 2008 at 12:31 am


    Oooh, I’m definitely interested! Seriously! And a July opening works well for me too. Email me please! wanderingchopsticks (at) gmail

    I heart Lainey. She’s pretty reliable. My other fave celeb blogger is Dlisted.com b/c he’s so funny. I don’t bother reading any others.

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