Day 1, Vietnam/Cambodia trip, Jan 2011 – March 2012
Day 1- Saigon (HCM City)
By now, I’m somewhat hungry and need a mid day snack. My cousin told me there is a very good nearby bánh bèo (bahn bell) and bánh bột lọc’s (bahn botz lock) stall. Both snack/appetizer are made of tapioca and rice flour base and steam in the flat petite sauce/condiment bowl/plate and the end result looks like mini pancake, with a pearl like white color (no eggs in the ingredient). I am a little hesitant to eat any food from a street peddler on my first day of arrival but I didn’t want to offended my cousin nor have the heart to tell her NO. The hungry tummy was on strike as well since I didn’t like the Taiwanese food on the Eva plane before arriving in Vietnam, so I was willing to take a chance.
bánh bèo (bahn bell)
My cousin was sweet. She told me to avoid pickled radish (đồ chua) cuz they usually attribute to diarrhea. There is regional variation for the same type of snack. Feature here is the Central style, where the topping to the steam rice mini pancake is a sauce type vs. the southern’s toppings are dry. Doesn’t matter, I liked them both, as long as it’s tasty.
My plate has both kind of banh’
I liked the bánh bèo better but than the banh’ bot. loc. is a thumb down for me. No taste/flavor/aroma whatsoever. I guess the reason the banh’ tasted good in people’s opinion is because of the aromatic fried shallots. This is such a contrast between Western food (focused on freshness, quality, let the flavor of the ingredient shine by themselves) vs. their Oriental’s cousin that relied a lot on condiments or sauces for added flavor.
In any case, I think I had better banh’ beo`and banh’ bo^t. loc. back home in San Jose due to us being the 2nd largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. I had to try out the chả Huế (Huế style steamed ham/pork roll) on the table.
Again, I had better in San Jose and it sounds funny, but my short cut version of this chả Huế tasted so much better. The chả was very bland, no sigh of whole pepper corn and I found no trace of minced shallots or garlic, or any type of onion that is often associated with this food. Altogether, we paid $28,000 VND for the snacks, around $1.50 USD. Not bad but I was hoping for better.
- Snacks, $28,000 VND = $1.5 USD
Total spent: $1.50 USD for both my cousin and I or ($0.75 USD per person)