Food File: Banh Beo

Bánh bèo is a dish from central Vietnam that’s still enormously popular in the former capital of Hue.

Traditionally it’s a small steamed rice cake topped with dried prawn and a sprinkle of green onion. Traditionally it’s served in the tiny ramekin it’s steamed in.

Traditionally … it’s quite good.

But at a small shop in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3, someone has improved on the traditional version of bánh bèo, making the cakes a bit bigger and adding pork mince and tiny baby prawns to the mix of toppings. They call them bánh bèo tôm thịt (bánh bèo with prawn and pork). Darling Man says it’s the extra meat that make these morsels more fabulous than the original.

Banh beo

This version of bánh bèo is served with the traditional nước chấm dipping sauce. And the beauty of the dish is how all the flavours and textures work together: creamy rice pancakes, chewy savoury topping, the sweet nước mắm and the surprise crunch of tiny chunks of deep-fried pork fat.

You can try this non-traditional version of banh beo at Hai Nam, 11A Cao Thang, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

Next month we are heading up to Hue and Hoi An to research the local food. Does anyone have any suggestions for must-try central Vietnamese dishes?

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11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Carmel says:

    How in the heck do you eat that?? It looks fabulous. I really need to stop reading these kinds of posts when I’m eating oatmeal. It makes my tastebuds sad they don’t get to enjoy the dishes I’m seeing.
    Carmel recently posted..Easter Rising

    • Barbara says:

      But oatmeal is fantastic, Carmel!

      I didn’t stop to ask exactly how to eat this dish. (Darling Man was toddler wrangling while I tucked in.) I just used a spoon to convey the banh beo to a little bowl, smothered it in nuoc cham and then shoveled it into my mouth with the spoon. I suppose I could have used chopsticks but that could have slowed me down a bit … and speed is imperative when you’re dealing with a dish this good and a tired toddler on the verge of a meltdown.

  2. yum, yum, yum. i need to come visit, and EAT!
    wandering educators recently posted..NASA: Why It Matters

  3. Jenny says:

    Well, in Hoi An you will of course have to try Cao Lau (or Cau Lao?), the famous dish with noodles that are produced only with water from that one specific well. I had Cao Lau quite often in Hoi An – in fact, after my first try, I did not have anything else for dinner. And lunch. I just loved it – and I hope you will too 🙂
    Jenny recently posted..Blog-Interview Nr. 13: Neuseeland – Afrika 0:1

    • Barbara says:

      Oh Jenny, cao lầu and mi Quang are definitely on our list for Hoi An! I want to meet some of the people who carry water from the famous well to the various restaurants, too.

  4. Maria says:

    Barbara that looks too pretty to eat. No, on second thought… it looks so pretty it’s meant to be eaten!

  5. Maria says:

    …and now I’m a masochist.

  6. […] of Vietnamese people. I want to fill him full of Vietnam’s fabulous coffee, phở, bánh mì, bánh bèo, mì Quảng, bánh cuốn and all my other favourite […]

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