Just a few weeks ago I had to deal with a terrible experience. Chatting with a british guy, he told me that food in Vietnam was his biggest struggle. After living here for nearly a year.
I couldn’t believe it. I felt so sorry. The only reason could be that he doesn’t try. So I asked him a simple question.
“Do you know Bánh cuốn?”
“Is it the one with the Baguette?”
Silent holy shit.
No, Banh Cuon is not the one with the Baguette. Banh Cuon is one of the best dishes, basically served in the mornings at the good places, for breakfast. Some translate it as “steamed” spring rolls. They steam the sort of ‘batter’ to get a very very thin white Crépe, that they fill with a mixture of mushrooms and minced meat mostly. Topped with bean sprouts, ham, coriander, and if you are super lucky, fresh crispy spring rolls. Fish sauce with chili as the sauce to pour over.
And go for it. You will like it more every time you eat it.
There are a many good ones in Saigon. Normally, my rule is, the smaller and less restaurant-looking a place is, the better it will taste. A few addresses that are approved:
Hoa Hung Street, District 10. (Coming from CMT8). Small place to your left when coming from CMT8.
241/41 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1. (This alley is a secret spot for authentic Vietnamese dishes to good prices! Banh Cuon Lady is super friendly and she makes a really good one, even though it’s not the freshest)
Another lovely place is hidden in the depths of Go Vap District (the food paradise), where I had most of my Banh Cuons, served by a cute married couple, where the man actually helps where he can, washes dishes, cooks, and always smiles. I will write down the address soon.