Food File: Banh Xeo Quy Nhon
The first time I tried bánh xèo, about six years ago, I thought I’d been dudded. It was awful.
Since then I have tried bánh xèo at several places around Ho Chi Minh City and every single bite has confirmed my first impression of the dish.
The giant bright yellow “sizzling cake” is, to me, oily and bland. In Ho Chi Minh City, the fried rice flour crepe is stuffed with tasteless shell-on prawns, fatty pork and limp bean sprouts. Wrapping ripped-off portions of the greasy pancake in leaves and dipping the bundle into nước chấm doesn’t do enough to lift this dish out of blah-ness.
The fact that bánh xèo is mentioned in so many must-try lists of Vietnamese dishes is my pet peeve. I tell everyone who will listen to avoid bánh xèo like the plague.
So when we arrived in the central Vietnamese town of Quy Nhon, where the local version of bánh xèo is considered (locally at least) the best in Vietnam, I could not help but pull a lemon-sucking face.
I agreed to try some bánh xèo in the interests of research.
And so, our first night in Quy Nhon, Darling Man, Miss M and I made our way to the local “eating street”, quite a way from the touristy seaside strip.
I was not impressed with the greyish pancakes when they were first delivered to our table. They were a fraction of the size of the bánh xèo that’s served further south and not garishly coloured with tumeric.
The Quy Nhon bánh xèo are served with rice paper, a dish of cucumber, sprouts and herbs and a sweet dipping sauce.
I dutifully wrapped, rolled, dipped and bit. Oh my, this dish is totally different to the southern version. It’s DELICIOUS! It has what the southern version doesn’t – flavour! And the right combination of bean sprouts, pork and prawns.
The mini-pancakes are soft and warm, the cucumber is crunchy, the herbs are fresh and fragrant, the rice paper is slightly chewy and the dipping sauce is out of this world! All in all a winning combination.
Try these banh xeo at 12 Ngo Van So Street, Quy Nhon.
(But steer clear of the big yellow ones in Ho Chi Minh City.)
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7 years ago