Monday, April 28, 2008

Cho Ben Thanh Challenge

I was thinking about food (well, that happens often). More specifically, I was thinking of all the dishes I had NOT eaten here yet (it was in the same train of thought that I did not want to leave Vietnam, regretting anything). Then as usual, I started comparing food to my mom’s. I realized that since I’ve moved out of my mom’s (in 2001), I only eat a number of dishes when I go back home. Dishes I crave. My favourite dishes. This puts a lot of dishes that I don't feel as strongly about on the wayside. Dishes that wouldn’t make my top ten, because it’s already crowded as it is.

I was actually thinking of one specific dish: mi quang. So I checked out the food blogs and found entries on noodlepie. He mentioned that he ate some at the Ben Thanh market. Why, I happen to live right by Ben Thanh market! So I went searching for the specific stall and ordered mi quang. I then realized that while I’d eaten a couple of times in the market, I really hadn’t given it enough of a chance. There’s so many food stalls with so many dishes, only minutes away. I decided to give myself a challenge to eat my way through, stall by stall. I have three months left! Here is what I have eaten so far:

Mi Quang at Stall 1092, 25,000 dong. Mi quang is a yellow noodle dish, a specialty of Da Nang that has a soupy sauce, but isn’t quite a soup. Like my mom’s, this one had cha (ground pork patty) and shrimp. Unlike my mom, it also had delicious meatballs. When I asked, I was told it consisted of pork and crab. So good and sweet!! Unfortunately, the banh trang (the sesame crackers on top) were very stale so didn’t really add that required crunch. I think I remember my mom deep frying them, which added more decadence!


Banh Cuon at Stall 1006, 20,000 dong. Banh cuon, described on the sign as steamed rolled rice pancake, is stuffed with ground pork. It was good as expected, but nothing special.


Banh cam (mobile), 3000 dong. While I was eating my banh cuon, a lady came by selling banh cam, a deep fried dough rolled in sesame seeds and stuffed with green beans. Perfect meal ending!


Thach at Stall 1010, 15,000 dong. Stall 1010 sells all sorts of sweets, cakes and thach, the Vietnamese version of jello. Well, The Boyfriend would disagree it’s like jello; it’s a bit too crunchy for his taste. Aren’t the shapes and colours pretty though? Some of the flavours include coconut, coffee and la dua (pandan leaf). I'm not sure if the pink is maybe strawberry?


Banh cam at Stall 1128, 3000 dong. I was looking for more banh cam and was pointed to this stall. I’ve noticed these are more densely packed with beans than back home and the sesame seeds aren’t all over the outside, rather it’s part of the syrup that is poured on top. When I took the picture, the lady made me wait to rearrange them so it would look nicer!


Bun Cha Gio at Stall 1124, 25,000 dong. After reading a few food blog entries about cha gio (fried spring rolls), I had to find myself some. It was a bit disappointing, burnt and stale. But a bowl of bun (vermicelli) with nuoc mam (fish sauce) always makes me happy.


Banh cuon thit nuong at Stall 1018, 10,000 dong for two rolls. I’ve actually been to this stall but didn’t have my memory card in my camera. So I decided to come back and try these rolls with grilled meat, herbs and noodles. I’ve never actually eaten these. It was quite good and I especially liked the accompanying peanut sauce.


Banh beo at Stall 1018, 20,000 dong. I also had a banh beo dish, which is dough that is steamed served with minced shrimp, fish sauce and crackling pork skin. Here, they serve it with cha hue (ground pork) and cha ca (ground fish). This is one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes.

5 comments:

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Banh beo and banh cuon are some of my favorite dishes. I've always referred to VNese gelatin as dong xuong (?), never heard of thach until I saw Gastronomy call it that.

Miss.Adventure said...

Hmmm... I think I've heard both terms before. But I was most likely influenced by Cathy's use of the word!

Linda said...

we always said dong xuong but I know thch as well... hey try and find those I can't remember the name but banh gio?? The ones that mom makes the dough with chicken broth.... steamed in banana leaf.... Mmmmm I could go for one of those right now! and have you found com rang yet? Mom said it's only in her que....

Miss.Adventure said...

I've actually been looking for banh gio. supposedly there are vendors who go around, but I haven't seen them... I had it once from a pastry shop, not that good (i like their pate chaud though!). And a vegetarian one which was actually pretty good. As for com rang, Cau gave me 4-5 bags and we ate them all! Because we had to drag them around our travels (Hue, Halong, Sapa, Hanoi) with cookies Di gave us! So I won't be sending you any com rang with Co Hoa...

Daniel said...

Man I could really go for some banh cam right now!!! It feels like ages since I've had them, and you claim they are stuffed with even more bean than back home? Just when I thought they couldn't get any better! Music to my ears I have to say...