Quay Thuc Pham Cong Nghe: Banh Cuon + Kiddie Chairs

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Restaurant Ha Noi

In the general sense, the walls were yellow, but they were so chipped and discolored, I couldn’t be certain. Makeshift shelves were lined with bottles of hot soda and water. It was 90 degrees and humid, but there were no cold drinks available.

Restaurant Ha Noi
There were five tables, blue and red plastic kiddie furniture. The foot stools were just that, a foot tall, requiring me to squat uncomfortably. The tables weren’t much taller than that.

Vietnamese Food Ha Noi
An older woman cooked the restaurant’s only item, banh cuon, steamed rice noodle rolls. She had a big pot of boiling water topped with a metal plate. She ladeled out rice batter from a plastic bucket and spread a millimeter-thin layer across the hot metal plate. The rice liquid coagulated, she scraped it into scrunched noodle roll form, folded either pork and wood-ear mushrooms or egg yolk inside, sprinkled on fried coconut strands and pork floss, and repeated.

Vietnamese Food Ha Noi
The article I read in the Asian Wall Street Journal said there’d be three possible fillings: pork, chicken and egg. I ordered all three. I was served pork and egg. As soon as my food arrived, Vietnamese diners stared at me and smiled. I was provided with a bowl of fish sauce, citron wedges, mint leaves, and a pepper shaker. A Vietnamese man who sat at my “table” instructed me to put mint leaves, squeezes of citron and shakes of pepper into the bowl of fish sauce, place a metal spoonful of banh cuon into the sauce, and eat.

Vietnamese Food Ha Noi
Both types of banh cuon were stunningly delicious, but I think I preferred the egg yolk, since it oozed, adding a sticky sweetness. Wow!

Did I mention the entire meal cost 8000 Dong, 50 cents?! I tried to tip the owner, but she refused my money.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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