Dec 2011

One Final Hurrah in Saigon: Vietnamese Crêpes

Banh Cuon Hai Nam - Ho Chi Minh City

For our final meal in Saigon, our friend Hawkins insisted on lunch at Bánh Cuốn Hải Nam. Narrow as can be, this restaurant has been serving the city’s best crêpes for decades. While service and decor is mostly minimal, the food keeps customers coming back time and again.

Banh Cuon Hai Nam - Ho Chi Minh City

The restaurant’s tidy alfresco kitchen faces the street, greeting customers with the aroma of hot crêpes as they walk in.

Banh Cuon Hai Nam - Ho Chi Minh City

Every serving is steamed and stuffed to order in the minimalist kitchen. We didn’t wait but a moment for our plates of the house special bánh cuốn to arrive.

Banh Cuon Hai Nam - Ho Chi Minh City

Bánh cuốn, a northern Vietnamese dish, is made of thin and pliable rice crêpes stuffed with a mixture of ground pork and woodear mushrooms. Each plate is served with neatly julienned herbs, bean spouts, and fried shallots. There’s a jug of fish sauce at every table, allowing diners to douse as they please.

I was expecting the bánh cuốn to be quite good, but didn’t anticipate Hải Nam nailing it on all fronts. The texture of the crêpes was outstanding, while the fish sauce was well-balanced and pitch perfect.

Banh Cuon Hai Nam - Ho Chi Minh City

To supplement our modestly portioned bánh cuốn, we garnished each plate with thick slices of chả lụa (Vietnamese ham). Even with the additional protein, we were all jonesing for more food after polishing off our initial plates and ordered another round straightaway. That’s how we do in Vietnam.

Pappa Roti - Ho Chi Minh City

While walking back to the hotel to collect our luggage, I could not resist stopping at the PappaRoti stand for a taste of “The Father of All Buns.” This chain of Korean bakeries has established quite a presence in Saigon. In fact, we ran into another outlet at our favorite MaxiMark.

Pappa Roti - Ho Chi Minh City

The crackly and boob-shaped bun was served fresh from the oven. With a slight mocha flavor, light texture, and buttery innards, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular with the local set.

So yes, my last bite in Vietnam was a Korean import.

For more Vietnamese food adventures from our summer 2011 trip, check out these posts:

Bánh Cuốn Hải Nam
11A Cao Thắng
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Cao Thắng
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

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5 thoughts on “One Final Hurrah in Saigon: Vietnamese Crêpes

  1. You blog article on Vietnamese crepe cause me to find a Vietnamese place last night to order from, but they did not have banh cuon and their bo kho was average at best (not as good as mine and clearly not as good as grandma’s). their cha gio was good though.

  2. Hm these Vietnamese crêpes look fantastic!
    Unless there is another chain with the same name, Pappa Roti is actually Malaysian. I absolutely love their buns, they go great with a cup of coffee!

  3. OMG, what a coincidence. This banh cuon joint was just steps away from our hotel where we stayed (Sen Viet Hotel). I loved the banh cuon here, it came second to a tiny stall I was obsessed with on the island of Phu Quoc. Thanks for bringing back a great memory. 🙂

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