Oct 2008

Bánh Xèo – Ho Chi Minh City

Just two more posts about Saigon and then we’re off to Hanoi, Sapa and then finally, America. I can’t believe how much I ate—it’s October for Pete’s sake! Anyhow, leaving Saigon was a great excuse for The Astronomer and me to gather all of our favorite peeps for a banh xeo and bo la lot feast. We initially planned to gorge at our favorite sizzling crepes joint in Phu Nhuan District but discovered that it was no longer in business when we motorbiked by to confirm the address. Down, but not out, we decided to move the party to an equally fabulous banh xeo shack in District 10.

The usual suspects—Hanh, Hawk, Nina and The Boyfriend—were present and accounted for. The evening’s special guests included Fiona, Jason, Chris, Tom, Mai and Erica.

Our party of 12 was seated al fresco with a perfect view of the hot griddles and hard working cooks. The hum of motorbikes and taxis cruising down CMT8 provided the soundtrack to our bumpin’ evening. We started the feast off with a couple plates of bo la lot (grilled seasoned beef wrapped in betel leaves). As expected, they were a hit. Some diners (namely those who hail from Central Vietnam) wrapped the bo la lot in rice paper with vermicelli noodles and star fruit and dipped them in nuoc mam or mam nem, while others (namely lazy folks) just ate them straight up. I was with the latter group.

Although my Saigon grandmother would argue otherwise, I think the best style of banh xeo are those from the central region. They’re petite little numbers filled with mung beans, whole shrimp and pork that are crisp all over.

There weren’t many photos taken this evening because my hands were covered in greasy goodness from the awesome banh xeo. The chefs traditionally rest the crepes on a rack prior to serving them to allow the oil to escape, but due to the insatiable appetite of our huge party, the crepes were served hot off the griddle and thus, super-duper oily. No matter, they were still excellent.

After we had our fill of banh xeo and bo la lot, we paid our ridiculously cheap bill, snapped this pic (can someone please explain to me why Asian females flash the peace sign when photographed?), and jammed over to Turtle Pond for Saigon’s greatest dessert—kem trai dua (coconut ice cream served inside a young coconut). Afterwards, we went bowling and then headed to Vasco’s for a nightcap. Vasco’s was then followed by Wiener Time at Apocalypse Now. At around 2 AM, we finally crashed and went home. I may not go out too often, but when I do, there’s no question I go big.

No Name
1 Bac Hai Street (on the corner of Cach Mang Thang Tam and Bac Hai streets)
District 10, Ho Chi Minh City

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5 thoughts on “Bánh Xèo – Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Two dishes that I love! I tend to agree with you about the banh xeo from Central Vietnam – they are much easier to handle as well.

    As for the peace sign:
    – peace
    – victory!
    – “2 more cokes please!”
    – “How many fingers am I holding up?”
    – “Look! I can make a rabbit with my fingers”
    – double the “cheese!”
    – “On the count of three, two…doh!”

  2. from looking at your pics here, these are not called “banh xeo”, but “banh khoai” from central VN. banh xeo is from the south and it is the size of 12″ plate folded in 1/2. my mom is from Hue so this is how i know. i wil try this place out sometime soon.
    love your blog, thanks.

  3. Jocelyn – They actually are banh xeo, just prepared Central Vietnamese-style. Banh khoai look similar, but are a bit fluffier in texture due to egg in the batter and served open-faced. We enjoyed some banh khoai in Saigon here.

  4. Hi gastronomer, I and my boyfriend just ate ‘banh xeo bac hai’ 2 days ago, and we also ordered ‘bo la lot’. The banh xeo was excellent (my boyfriend completely loved it!), however, bo la lot wasn’t good as what you noticed.

    The ‘mam nem’ was too sweet (think it was lacked of pineapple), the vegetable didn’t support the taste of bo la lot (just few lines of star fruit which is usually required to cut in star shape, included ‘chuoi chat’ and cucumber, all of them were just so little and not so fresh ), prefer ‘banh hoi’ instead of ‘bun’ to eat with bo la lot. Moreover, the beef was wrapped so loose by a very thin layer of ‘la lot’, so the beef inside could be seen outside, not really skillful in wrapping Vietnamese style, I assume.

    My recommend place for ‘bo la lot’ is ‘Ga nuong Thanh Vi’ in the corner of Minh Phung st. and Hung Vuong st.( note: there is a circle over there), 16000d.


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