May 2008

Bánh Bò & Bánh Tiêu

During my first few months in Vietnam, I developed an obsession with street donuts. Whenever I saw a cart frying up some sweet and savory balls of dough, I just had to have a couple. Perhaps my donut addiction existed even before I moved here, but it used to be suppressed by knowledge of the outrageous trans fat levels in each pillowy ball of joy. In Saigon, nutrition facts are not available, and it turns out ignorance is bliss.

Although nothing quite matches banh cam for pure sugary goodness, I also love Bánh Tiêu . These hollow, roundish pastries are nothing like Krispy Kremes—their primary flavor is salty rather than sweet, and they make for a relatively subtle but satisfying snack. Most Bánh Tiêu vendors pair the donut with a strange, gelatinous cake called Bánh Bò. At first this didn’t seem all that appealing to me, but the combination is perfect. The Bánh Bò is sponge-like and mildly sweet, and it provides a wonderful cooling contrast to the salty Bánh Tiêu . If you’re ever walking around Saigon and see a man slicing open donuts with scissors, you can be sure you’re in for a treat.

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17 thoughts on “Bánh Bò & Bánh Tiêu

  1. I’ve never seen this before! I do like banh bo even though I find it has one of the weirder texture.

  2. Ooh.. my favorite snacks! Banh tieu when made fresh and hot off the pan of bubbling hot oil are just to die for, they taste even better with banh bo. Yummy! Used to buy these freshly made snacks in Dakao area but since I moved to the US 25 yrs ago I have not found an equally tasty banh tieu. Can’t wait to try these again.. Thanks for the memory!

  3. Woah, interesting combination! I love both, but never tried it together. I’m going to CA this Friday, I can’t wait to eat all the food!

  4. hmmm, it looks spongey. Is it a small thing? It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like a mouthful!

  5. I happened upon your blog via Noodlepie. I have to admit, I simply (and happily) live vicariously through your food experiences! I’ve had both banh tieu and band bo all throughout my childhood, but never together. The next time I happen to visit my local banh mi shop, which sells both snack cakes, I’m going to give my palate a combined tasting experience. 🙂

  6. Neneh – There’s a guy who sells these next to The Gastronomer’s office. We’ll get you one next time we eat together.

    Htran – No problem—street donuts are pretty awesome.

    Raine – Definitely give them a try if you see them—the whole is better than the sum of the parts.

    Foodhoe – Hamburger bun is about right; they’re similar in size to a typical American cake donut, but not as symmetrical.

    Danielle – Thanks, I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Let us know what you think of the combination.

  7. Could you please email me the recipe. I love to make banh bo & banh tieu, I share and show my sister. It so good I love to cook and I can hardly wait.

    Thank you,

  8. found this on google images 🙂 anyway, i am totally craving this right now. this was absolutely one of my fondest memories of vietnam. i’ve tried this combo back home in the States but it doesn’t quite compare to the freshness straight from street vendor in VN.

  9. would u please to email me recipe cach lam banh bo va banh tieu please .That my favorite.
    thanks a lot

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