Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Specialities from the seaside (bánh căn Phan Rang)

It took me almost two hours to reach this place where they serve specialities from Phan Rang.
And it's just in Saigon! Can you believe that? No traffic! No rain! No any accident! Two hours!

It's far but not that far to steal from me that much time!
Simple reason! In the middle of my way I found that I left my phone at home. No address of the eatery place. No idea about phone number of my friends who is waiting for me there! Damn!

Back home again on my bicycle! Got my phone! And continued my journey, this time on my super fast scooter, to 'bánh căn, bánh xèo Phan Rang" at 570 Lê Quang Định, Go Vap district in Ho Chi Minh City!

But at the end I'm happy with my new discovery!

Phan Rang is a town in South Central Coast of Vietnam, very near to our famous beach resort paradise Nha Trang, that's why it's easy to find these specialities in Nha Trang and I heard the best time to have bánh căn & bánh xèo is early in the morning, especially in the cold rainy days!  

           Very impressive clay mold for bánh căn! Look like a kitchen toy for girls! 
              Or jokingly as some remains in Qin Shi Huang's tomb (mộ Tần Thủy Hoàng) in Xian, China!

            Similar to bánh xèo, but Phan Rang's version it's much smaller, with cuttlefish, shrimp 
            and pork. No green mung bean!           

             At first glance, I thought that I'm going to have a tiny sunny side up! 

             Bánh căn looks similar to bánh khọt in South but different in color and ingredients! 
            White color, made from rice powder with either chicken egg or quail's egg! 

              Bánh xèo from Phan Rang served with veggies and specially - shreds of green big mango  

Here they serve bánh xèo either with only cuttlefish or everything: shrimp, cuttlefish and pork.
To my surprise, and for the first time in my life, I have bánh xèo soaking in fish sauce with big green mango (xoài tượng).
The sour taste of mango, the sweet and lightly savory fish sauce together with bánh xèo, it's just far beyond my imagination!

Bánh căn is simple, with egg or with quail's egg, topped with green onion stirred in oil, small cubes of deep fried bread. Same as bánh xèo, I have bánh căn with fish sauce and my new discovery - big green mango!  

Following friend's advise, I pour the fish sauce in my bowl, half bowl, then soak bánh căn or bánh xèo in fish sauce, together with shreds of green mango or some other veggie! No bother to wrap as in South when we eat our pancake!

Another surprise! For dips we have a selection of three!

The jar with red sauce is sweet fish sauce, dark brown is mắm nêm, sauce made from fermented fish, yellow is a combination of fish sauce and ground roasted peanut. One more dip is a soup of braised fish, but they don't serve this time or at least I couldn't find it on my table!

My most favorite is a sweet fish sauce. Then the sauce mixed with peanut. The dark brown sauce is quite strange to me!  In South we used to have mắm nêm as dip but with chopped pineapple for another dish.  

I like my new discovery!

Saigon is a big food hub, many different foods from around Vietnam can be found here!
Some becomes trendy to attract a big crowd, eps. the youth, but some seems quiet, still surviving thanks to  those customers who are originally from that area. They probably want to overcome the nostalgia for the old days in their hometown by tasting again their familiar dishes!

Bánh căn is among these quiet "migrants", but it's one of the best foods I have ever tried!

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