Banh Xeo Quan, also known as Mr. Rice, specializes in southern-style Vietnamese crepes*. Owner Phi Tran, who hails from Saigon, opened the restaurant in Rosemead some five years ago to bring this specialty to the San Gabriel Valley. This place came highly recommended to me by my lovely friend Thien. She and her family have been dining here for years, so I knew I was in for a treat.
A refreshingly succinct menu, neatly laminated and fully photographed, greeted us upon arrival. In addition to its namesake banh xeo, the restaurant also prepared rice dishes, noodle soups, and hot vit lon, fetal duck eggs. Although a banh mi hot dog and soda combo was unbeatably priced at $2.75, no one bit the bullet.
We passed on boba and beer and settled on freshly pressed nuoc mia (sugarcane juice) and minty green nuoc dau xanh la dua (mung bean milk with pandan). Both were excellent.
Banh xeo, which literally means “sizzling cake,” earned its name from the sound the batter makes when it hits the scorching pan. The result is a thin crepe, colored a stunning shade of yellow due to the turmeric in the batter, that’s crisp and delicate throughout with lacy, caramelized edges. Stuffed inside are bunches of beansprouts, mushrooms, shrimp, and pork. We went ahead and upgraded to the banh xeo dac biet for extra filling ($7.50).
To eat, we nabbed a bit of the banh xeo and wrapped it in romaine lettuce and rice paper, along with some herbs, then dipped the entire parcel in fish sauce. We repeated until thoroughly satisfied.
The other specialty here is xoi ga ($3.25), sticky rice dolled up with shredded chicken, fried shallots, dried shrimp, and Chinese sausages. This homey dish tasted somehow better than usual because no slaving behind the stove was required.
Our final dish was the bun bo Hue ($5.75). The lemongrass-inflected broth was deep, dark, and flavorful, with plenty of skin-on pork and tender beef. The fresh banana flower shavings served on the side were a welcomed sight and plopped into the bowl to wilt. While the bowl’s seasonings could’ve been just a touch bolder, this was the strongest bun bo that I’ve sampled in the area—I call this a bun bo breakthrough.
Banh Xeo Quan: come for the banh xeo and stay for the xoi ga and bun bo Hue.
* I actually don’t think banh xeo is anything like a crepe. Banh cuon, on the other hand, is totally like a crepe. Still, it’s the standard reference point when writing about these kind of things, so I’ve grudgingly used it here.
Bánh Xèo Quán
8742 Garvey Avenue
Rosemead, CA 91770
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