Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bánh Cuốn Nhân Thịt

last weekend, when i was in the neighborhood to grab some snacks for my trip to chicago, i seriously considered going into bánh cuốn tây hố on 12th and webster in oakland...but it was way too crowded. however, today, i decided to get there super early so that i could try their bánh cuốn (i.e., steamed rice flour crepes filled with a ground pork and wood ear mushroom filling).

it has been over a decade since i've had some really good
bánh cuốn and i was very excited about the possibility of having something that would be tasty and have the requisite amount of textures and flavors. i must also admit that i brought antibacterial wipes with me ....as my research on this place indicated that it isn't exactly the cleanest place to eat. sometimes you can get cleanliness and good vietnamese food (i.e., out the door, slanted door, vanessa's bistro, etc.)...but sometimes to get certain dishes...it seems one must compromise a bit.

i arrived at
bánh cuốn tây hố a few minutes after 11am and thankfully, there were only a few tables filled. here is a shot of one of the tables...
this is for all of you folks out there that think asian american kids are all super quiet well behaved little robots that don't do anything..like stand on chairs...


as it wasn't crowded, i was able to grab a seat and take a look around....and saw that they had some chè in the refrigerated case.

i picked one out and the waiter set it aside for me before putting it in a glass with some crushed ice


yum yum. these can often be a snack or meal by themselves.

while i was waiting for the
bánh cuốn to arrive, i decided to take a picture of the condiments on the table...including the huge bottle of nước chấm (a sauce that usually includes fish sauce, sugar, garlic, chilies, and lime juice...the balance of sweet, salty, sour, and heat depends on the family).

i noticed that instead of adding chilies and garlic to their nước chấm, the restaurant provided a chili garlic paste to add. i love how so much of vietnamese food can be modified to your own tastes.

then in what seemed like less than 2 minutes after i ordered, my bánh cuốn arrived. i ordered the Bánh Cuốn Nhân Thịt (#7) on the menu. my bánh cuốn arrived with a chilled pork sausage (giò lua) and a sweet potato shrimp fritter (bánh tôm). i knew from the smell that it was going to be good. i let out a big sigh...it seemed like all was right with the world for that moment.

it was wonderful. the different flavors and textures....the chewiness of the soft warm bánh cuốn rolled on the tongue, the saltiness of the soft ground pork, the crunchiness of the wood ear mushrooms...combined with a different kind of crunchiness of the fried fritter and the chilled silkiness of the pork sausage...brought to a complete flavor filled height with the addition of the nước chấm.... ahhhhh. i think i'll be coming here a lot more often. i'll just keep remembering to bring my antibacterial wipes.

btw: if you would like to see
bánh cuốn made, check out this video on youtube.

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