Food File: Banh Da Cua Hai Phong (Crab Noodle Soup, Hai Phong-Style)
I am being bombarded with information about new Vietnamese dishes … and I’m in heaven.
Well, most of the time I’m in heaven. It’s a bit hellish to have some free time, someone to take care of the baby, a new food to try, an address to try it at and NO MOTORBIKE!!!
Thankfully, Darling Man sometimes offers to take the bus to work so that I can get out and about.
And that’s how I came to be testing out bánh đa cua Hải Phòng, a crab noodle soup from the northern port city of Hai Phong, famous for being the jumping-off point for Halong Bay and for its gun battles between farmers and police.
Banh da cua uses an usual type of noodle called (as you probably guessed) banh da. It’s made from the same dough that’s used to make giant rice crackers. The noodles are chewier than other types of rice noodles, with more of a roasted rice flavour.
The soup also contains pork balls, two different type of crab cake, pounded-up rice paddy crab and bò lá lốt, beef wrapped in betel leaves. (I ordered my soup without the beef, which is why you can’t see little black logs in the picture.)
And there’s lots of greenery in this version of the soup. As well as the plate of shredded lettuce and green perilla leaves that’s served alongside the soup, the bowl is stuffed with morning glory, the everyday green Vietnamese vegetable that’s sometimes translated as water spinach.
I was thrilled to have discovered banh da cua Hai Phong with my team of taste testers. It was the second brilliant discovery of the night, after our duck taco experience.
However, when I got home I realised my photos were all blurred. (I’m so glad I found out I have shaky hands now, many years after deciding not to be a surgeon.)
So on a stinking hot Monday afternoon Miss M and I returned to the banh da cua place we found in District 1 to order the other dish on the menu and take some non-blurred photos. Because shaky hands are much more of a problem when taking photos in low light.
But wouldn’t you know it … the power was off. The restaurant was open, but it was dim and dark inside … with no fans.
As the sweat poured off us both, we arranged and rearranged our bowl of soup. Miss M posed for me …
… in a very professional manner. While I, on the other hand, unprofessionally left my lens cap on the table. D’oh!
I guess we have to go back. What a tough life we have.
We tried banh da cua Hai Phong at a restaurant with the same name at 88 Tran Quang Khai Street, District 1. However, since trying it there, I’ve noticed a little place near our house that serves the same dish. Apparently it’s available all over the place, so keep your eyes peeled for the name of the soup where ever you are in Vietnam.
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5 years ago