Tag Archives: Vietnamese

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.

Advertising the goods

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

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Vietnamese

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

1 Comment

Filed under Cambodian, Khmer, Vietnamese

Chatsworth Road E5

Chatsworth E5 market in Hackney

Chatsworth E5 market in Hackney

I’ve been staying for the past couple of days with friends from Cambodia that now live in Blackheath. The girls wanted to do some shopping so Brandon (my host in Blackheath) and I had a chance yesterday to head to a little known street market in Hackney named after the address and post code Chatsworth E5. Not as big or diverse as the  Borough Market in the center of London but was definitely worth the 3 changes on the Tube to get there. With about 50 stalls, it’s not the biggest street market but has some excellent options for food and has a very local feel that the Borough Market might have had a few years ago. We did a fast reconnoiter of the food stalls and found all of them irresistable. We could only choose 3 and after much argument and a quick coin toss, we started our foray into the food at Chatsworth E5.

Kimchi Cult stand in Chatsworth E5 Market

Kimchi Cult stand in Chatsworth E5 Market

The first place we went was the Kimchi Cult stall which is run by Danny, a Londoner who spent a couple years in Korea, eating up the local street food while teaching. Unfortunately the kimchi slider’s weren’t available but we had a great pulled pork sandwich with ginger coleslaw.

Pulled Pork on the grill at the Kimchi Cult at Chatsworth E5

Pulled Pork on the grill at the Kimchi Cult at Chatsworth E5

The great thing about the stall is that he cooks everything to order but only takes about 5 minutes to prepare. The pork was a sweet yet punchy affair with the ginger coleslaw giving an added crunch to the sandwich.

The pulled pork sandwich at the Kimchi Cult stand in Chatsworth E5 market

The pulled pork sandwich at the Kimchi Cult stand in Chatsworth E5 market

After the Kimchi Cult, we headed off to Sho Foo Doh stand which only sold one item: Okonomiyaki. I’ve only had this dish once before during the Happa review and didn’t really care for it but wanted to give it another shot. Oh was it good….

Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

What I really dug about this version over the one at Happa was the cheese was placed in the potato mix so it had a richness to it that wasn’t overly cheese filled and a sauce that wasn’t too sweet.

Okonomiyaki at the Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

Okonomiyaki at the Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

Added with some pork belly and a healthy dose of green onions, it made for an Okonomiyaki that I would come back for.

Okonomiyaki on the griddle at the Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

Okonomiyaki on the griddle at the Sho Foo Doh stand at Chatsworth E5 market

The last place we tried was Banhmi 11. Advertised as bespoke baguettes at their stall, they give several options for their banh mi.

Banh Mi 11 stand in the Chatsworth E5 market

Banh Mi 11 stand in the Chatsworth E5 market

After waiting in line for what seemed to be an eternity (bespoke baguettes take a while to assemble) , we ordered the BBQ Squared banh mi which had pate, caramelized pork meatballs with roasted rice flavours. Unfortunately, the long wait time allowed our stomachs the time to fill up and left us wondering if we had the room to fit even more food in our bellies. Luckily, I spied a huge bottle of Sriracha on their mise en place and after coming in for a closer look, and noticing the Huy Fong label, immediately became hungry again.

Rosemead Sriracha at the Banh Mi 11 stand in Chatsworth E5 market

Rosemead Sriracha at the Banh Mi 11 stand in Chatsworth E5 market

The banh mi was completely worth it. Lots of char-crusted meatballs smashed together with pate and surprisingly, pork floss which I haven’t seen in years! Add in pickled carrots, cucumbers, a heap of cilantro, Sriracha and green chiles in a spongy on the inside, crunchy on the outside baguette and we had a banh mi that was in my top 5 all-time list.

The BBQ Squared banh mi from the Banh Mi 11 stand in Chatsworth E5 market

The BBQ Squared banh mi from the Banh Mi 11 stand in Chatsworth E5 market

There were other notable food stalls that were just as busy as the ones we ate at. Notably, the wrap stall next to Banhmi 11 almost had us when we saw a kofta wrap being eaten next to us. Also, there was a Mexican street taco stand that had some amazingly fresh guacamole!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Nyam BKK

Krispy Kreme vs. Dunkin Donuts

Please forgive the worst pic on the blog (shot from my cell phone) but I just got back from a short trip to Bangkok and had some really great food.  This shot is of the least amazing food, a Krispy Kreme vs. Dunkin Donuts taste test (KK won in texture and DD on flavor and we all felt horrible after).

Burgers – Garage , 2nd Floor of All Seasons Place on Wireless road – Really tasty bacon cheeseburgers at an American themed restaurant in some huge office building mall.

Vietnamese – Xuan Mai, 351/3 Sukhumvit 55 – Absolutely amazing food, a bit pricey for Vietnamese but wow.  Some highlights were the honey suckel flower with pork and shrimp and a creme brulee desert served in an empty coconut.  Also, the Owner of the place was Miss Siagon in the 70s and apparently worked for the CIA.  Really great dinner.

Street food – Sukhumvit Soi 38 night market – Crispy pork wonton soup + too much chili pepper = delicious

Italian – Bacco, 35/1 Sukhumvit Soi 53 – Nice wood fired pizza with some interesting topping choices.

Bryse

UPDATE: the “bun in the oven” shown in the photo above has been born!  Sunday morning happy and healthy but still no name …

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Loud Vietnamese

Vietmart restaurant

Vietmart restaurant

The place was pretty rowdy back in 2004. We named it Loud Vietnamese due to the ear-splitting techno music that thumped in the joint. The first time I was there, I saw a very drunk teenager in her school uniform carried down the steps by her friends. All I could think at the time was this place ought to be interesting.

The patronage at that time was a bit sketchy, you had to yell to keep up conversation and stupidly cheap beers with ice were the norm. The menu wasn’t as diverse as it is now but they had a great chao tom (grilled ground shrimp wrapped around a stick of sugarcane) for 3,000 Riel which made for a handy snack after a night of boozing.

Around 2007, the place was remodeled and looks pretty much like it does now. They got rid of the loud techno which drove the kids away but made conversation a bit easier. They also revamped the menu and now offer some very tasty dishes.

Enough history. Lets live in the now and get to the food!

First to come up was the Thit Neung Heo (Grilled Pork Ribs $3.50). Having a nice char from the grill, the ribs were exquisitely balanced between sweet and salty and made for a great start to the meal.

Thit Neung Heo or Grilled Pork Ribs

Thit Neung Heo or Grilled Pork Ribs

Ten minutes after we received our first dish, we started getting the orders on top of each other. The Banh Xeo (vietnamese pancake $2.00), Muc Chien Ngon (fried crispy squid $4.50) and Goi Bo Tai Chanh (rare beef lime salad $5.00) came next. The Banh Xeo was chock full of ground pork, shrimp, julienned carrots and sliced onions.

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo

Goi Bo Tai Chanh is always favorite with me. This version is filled with rau ram (vietnamese coriander), basil, mint, sliced onions and tossed in a sweet lime sauce. A bonus was the addition of fried shallots and peanuts for garnish. The Muc Chien Ngon was nice but I felt that the breading that they used was to too heavy and overpowered the delicate taste of the squid.

Goi Bo Tai Chanh or Rare Beef Lime Salad

Goi Bo Tai Chanh or Rare Beef Lime Salad

During this time, the Bo Nhung Dam (thin sliced beef boiled in vinegar $6.50) was delivered to the table but placed on the side. The very attentive staff waited until we finished a couple of plates before setting it up which was very thoughtful of them. A Vietnamese take on Shabu Shabu, the raw beef is placed in the vinegar broth and the accompanying sides are used to garnish. Here, the sides were some dry banh trang (rice paper sheets), a bowl with some water to dip the banh trang in, a few cups of nuoc cham (dipping sauce), rice noodles, various herbs and lettuce.

Bo Nhung Dam and its fixings

Bo Nhung Dam and its fixings

The last dish we received was the Mi Xao Chay (fried vegetarian noodles $3.00). I was shocked to see ramen noodles were used instead of the usual noodles I’m used to. To my surprise, the noodles weren’t too bad! It didn’t hurt that the vegetables were fresh and nicely seasoned.

All in all, a great trip down memory lane.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Anchor cans are $ 0.80.  — Vinh

Mi Xao Chay or Fried Vegetarian Noodles

Mi Xao Chay or Fried Vegetarian Noodles

I am by no means an expert on Vietnamese food, but I am an enthusiast. As such, I was delighted to try this place as my initiation into the Nyam Penh scene. Executive summary is that this is the best Vietnamese food I’ve had so far in Phnom Penh, or at least tied with the restaurant downstairs (which may or may not be owned by the same people). Beef in vinegar is my go-to dish in Vietnamese restaurants and this one did not disappoint. Because it was my first time meeting the gang I decided not to drink the broth, but I easily could have. The combination of vinegar and lemongrass is fantastic, and I appreciated that they went heavy on the lemongrass–it wasn’t too much for me. I also thought the rare beef salad was excellent, and I ate more than my fair share of it.

Muc Chien Ngon and Banh Xeo

Muc Chien Ngon and Banh Xeo

I was least excited by the noodle dish that was a packet of ramen noodles and some vegetables. I’m no elitist about packaged ramen–in fact, I’m a die-hard fan. But I’m rarely thrilled to get it served up to me in a restaurant and this time was no different. Overall, I was very pleased with this restaurant. For some reason I had thought that the upstairs was a pho-only place and had always eaten in the much less pleasant restaurant downstairs. But with open-air seating bedecked in plastic foliage and $0.80 beers, this place is a winner for me.  — Lina

Vietmart restaurant

Vietmart restaurant

As soon as we walked into this place, I liked it.  It reminded me of places I had been while visiting Hanoi.  Ngon was absolutely beautiful but I never ate anywhere like that in Vietnam.  Loud colors, plastic plants and flashing lights felt much more authentic.

The ribs that came out first were amazing.  Maybe it was because we had had a few beers before dinner but, wow, I would have been happy eating just ribs that night.  There is a huge ‘Banh Xeo’ sign painted on the outside of the restaurant so I wanted to try it thinking it might be their specialty.  It wasn’t the most amazing tasting banh xeo I’ve had but it was probably the biggest.  All five of us at the table were able to have a decent portion.

Dunking some beef in the vinegar broth

Dunking some beef in the vinegar broth

The Muc Chien Ngon, aka, Vietnamese calamari, was good but you can pretty much deep fry anything and it will be pretty good.   But the highlight for me was definitely the Bo Nhung Dam.  They let the pot filled with the vinegar broth and onions simmer on our table for a while before they moved it over to the middle of the table.  Any sort of hot pot dinner is always the best group meal but would have been slightly nicer if we were at a round table (John had to reach pretty far to get to the pot).  Again, Vietmart was generous with the portions and we all had plenty and with beers for less than a buck, this place is definitely solid.

4.5 nyamies out of 5.  Vinh

4 out of 5 nyamies Lina  (check out Lina’s blog here)

4.0 out of 5 nyamies Bryse

Vietmart Restaurant
On the corner of Monivong and street 242 across the street from the 24 hour BB World.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized