Tag Archives: basil

Nyam Abroad: Banh Trang Nuong

Stitched image from the rooftop bar at the Ceatec Tower

Stitched image from the rooftop bar at the Ceatec Tower

My wife and I  spent a week in Ho Chi Minh City just recently, enjoying the culinary delights Vietnam has to offer. We had a great time meeting new people along with some old friends and of course, ate tons of great food.

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Advertising the goods

One memorable item we ate (and we ate alot of it) was Banh Trang Nuong or what I ended up naming the Vietnamese Grilled Taco. Banh Trang is translated as rice paper and is the used as the wrapping material for Bánh Cuốn or Chả Giò. With these preparations, the banh trang is dipped in water to moisten them to make for easier rolling.

Banh Trang Nuong on the grill

Banh Trang Nuong on the grill

With this dish, the uncooked banh trang is placed on a grill and the ingredients are placed on top. We went to several vendors and the filling is generally a mix of minced pork, dried shrimp butter, chopped scallions, and a quail egg.

Ingredients for the Banh Trang Nuong

Ingredients for the Banh Trang Nuong

An optional squeeze of chili sauce rounds out the filling. We also saw chili-sate sauce, deep fried onions and deep fried rice paper as ingredients and thought they made the Banh Trang Nuong even better!

It's almost a taco!!

It's almost a taco!!

At a certain point on the grilling process which the vendor knows perfectly, the banh trang becomes a bit more pliable and is folded over. A bit more time is spent on the grill to crisp it back up and then it is served with some folded paper.

The finished product

The finished product

The crispiness of the banh trang combined with the gooey texture of the filling (probably because of almost done quail egg) is one of those great experiences I will take with me to the grave. One note is that you have to eat this fast as the banh trang wrapper goes a bit limp if you leave it to cool down.

You can find Banh Trang Nuong vendors around town but we found tons of them in the park next to the Notre-Dame Basilica in District 1.

Some more images from the week:

 

Instructions at Wrap and Roll in Ho Chi Minh City

Instructions at Wrap and Roll in Ho Chi Minh City

Sesame seed rice paper spring rolls at Wrap and Roll

Sesame seed rice paper spring rolls at Wrap and Roll

Banh cuon nhan thit at Wrap and Roll. Check out the pork floss

Banh cuon nhan thit at Wrap and Roll. Check out the pork floss

Banh Cuon with 4 types of Cha Lua

Banh Cuon with 4 types of Cha Lua

Complimentary appetizers on the 50th floor at Bitexico Tower

Complimentary appetizers on the 50th floor at Bitexico Tower

A 1956 Lambretta and it's proud owner

A 1956 Lambretta and it's proud owner

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Mother In Law

No, this isn’t a post about my mother in law (who is a saint, by the way).

The Mother-In-Law restaurant

This is about the restaurant Chez La Belle Mere or if translated to English: Mother In Law restaurant. Located on on the corner of Street 55 and 240, it’s part of an evergrowing number of restaurants in the area. This restaurant has always intrigued me as it is always busy when I drive by and I thought Cambodians must really love their mother-in-laws but in reality, the draw is the food.

A combination of Chinese, Khmer and Vietnamese, most of the menu items range from 2 – 6 USD. For our visit, we ordered a combination of Khmer and Vietnamese food. We ordered Tuek Krueng (Fish with Prahok Sauce $3.90), Fish Sour Soup with Egg and Shrimp ($3.90), Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad ($3.90), Banh Cuon ($2.50) and Banh Hoi Bo Lui ($3.90).

Teuk Kreung

Teuk Kreung

I usually don’t care for Prahok much as I feel it overpowers anything it touches but this dish was different. Maybe it was due to the sliced basil and peanuts which helped give this dish a bit more depth. It also had to do with the Prahok was being used more as a flavoring agent than the central part of the dish.

Fish Sour Soup

Fish Sour Soup

What I really loved about this the Fish Sour Soup was the abundant amounts of steamed fish egg clumps.  They had a duck egg taste to them with a slight hint of fish. Yes, I know it sounds a bit wrong but you gotta try it for yourself. They tasted great!

Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad

Bitter leaf and smoked fish salad

Initially, I cared the least for this salad which was a bummer as it was the best looking one of the bunch.The bitter leaf, also known as sdao, asserted it’s flavor over anything else, leaving it a one-dimensional dish. Once I managed to take most of the sdao out of the salad, it stopped overpowering and made for a great counterpoint to the sweet, salty fish sauce based dressing.

Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon

The Vietnamese dishes were polarizing. The Banh Cuon was good but I have had better and at a third of the price at the one at Chez La Belle Mere.  The Banh Hoi Bo Lui was very good with the beef cooked to a rare temperature and had tons of lettuce, banh hoi noodles to make for an extremely filling dish.

Banh Hoi Bo Lui

Banh Hoi Bo Lui

The Mother In Law restaurant is a great place to check out for the diverse menu and  relatively cheap prices. 

Chez la Belle Mere
#38 Street 240
Phnom Penh
Tel: 012 974 258

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Dolce Italia

Condiments at Dolce Italia

Condiments at Dolce Italia

There’s something about a wood fired pizza that gets me well, a bit fired up.  I think that it’s the crispy, yet chewy crust that only a stupidly hot wood oven can create. I also love the visual aspect of a pie with blistered, almost burned edges and taking that first bite, burning the roof of your mouth and not caring.

That’s why my wife and I ended up at  Dolce Italia: Pizza Napoletana Da Giorgio after a hearing from a friend about the pizzas. The menu is a mixture of antipastas, sandwiches, pastas and of course, wood fired pizzas. We ended up ordering a classic Pizza Fresca ($9.50) and the Ripieno Classico ($11.50).

Another great aspect of wood fired pizzas is that they take no time to cook so from the time we ordered to the time we got our pizza and calzone was under 10 minutes.

Pizza Fresca at Dolce Italia

Pizza Fresca at Dolce Italia

The Pizza Fresca is sheer simplicity; consisting of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and  basil. It’s this simplicity that allows the high quality ingredients to shine.  The crust was superb with just enough charring to give it that taste only a wood fire can give.

Just enough char

Just enough char

We also ordered the Ripieno Classico or Calzone Napoletano which consisted of ricotta, shredded mozzarella, salame Napoli and basil.

Ripieno Classico at Dolce Italia

Ripieno Classico at Dolce Italia

The crust for the calzone wasn’t as crisp as the pizza but still managed to have that great wood-fired taste and there was ample amounts of goodness inside that made it gut-bustingly delicious.

There are about 10 pizzas on the menu which range from $6 – $15 which is very reasonable considering the size of the pies. Also, they do not deliver and only do pick up orders.

Vinh

Dolce Italia
#96 Sothearos Blvd
Tel: 012 562 892
Just across the street from the Vietnamese/Cambodian Friendship Monument

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