BANH TRANG HAS BEEN CALLED THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENT OF RAVIOLI SKINS": IT IS THE THIN TRANSLUCENT RICE PAPER THEY WRAP VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS IN. Since even people in the reluctant West go for sping rolls, banh trang is eternally popular. The basic idea is to wrap banh trang around some meat and a suprisingly wide variety of vegetables and leaves. Many of these leaves are not ordinary agricultural specimens at all, but wild weeds plucked by old women on the banks of polluted rivers! Thus there is a health factor to consider eating the more exotic kind of banh trang, but all up I consider the health benefits to outweigh the risks -- some of those strange tropical weeds must contain some potent vitamin combinations and rare nutrients!
I read a story recently on noodlepie concerning one particular elaboration of bang trang which goes in for liberal leafage: this particular critter is called banh trang phoi suong. In the article, noodlepie scoffs his fill at a Saigon restaurant called Quan Co Tam - Banh Canh Trang Bang (at 188 Nguyen Van Thu Street, Phuong Da Kao, District 1.) It is a restaurant which is big on leaves (one item definitely neglected in our modern food lives.) As noodlepie wrote: "This is one of my favourite dishes in Vietnam, Banh trang phoi suong (literally means "rice pancake exposed in the dew (at night)". It's so simple it's rude. Centre stage we have thin slices of boiled pork, nothing fancy going on, just the pork. The surrounding action has the pork trapped, no escape from a fate worth scoffing. Rustic style rice paper, a sweet nuoc mam (fish sauce), pickled carrots and onion-leek type thing, raw beansprouts and lengthways sliced cucumber. And then comes that mighty herb trough. Trang bang, by the way, is the name of the province the dish comes from.
"That's a gargantuan set of greens in anyone's book. It's like no other platter on the Vietnamese table. A plate of this stuff will bring the David Attenborough out of anyone. Dig, delve and forage-mungussly good. Pluck a few leaves of what you fancy, sling them in a rice paper along with your meat, and whatever else you can squeeze in, roll, dip and nibble, munch or hog. I hog, you're probably a bit more polite..."
o t h e r + p o s s i b i l i t i e s
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN GETTING A LOT OF BANH TRANG ACTION WHEN YOU ARE IN SAIGON, HERE ARE SOME PLACES YOU CAN CHECK OUT:
Banh Canh Tan Hoang Ty: 106 Cao Thang Street, Dist. 3. Phone: 833 2077.
Vietnamese God (A "funny guy who loves everything") wrote after visiting this place: "My sister and her friends took me to this place and I was confused about the name because on the sign it said Trang Bang and I don't know what Trang Bang actually is. At this very busy local restaurant they serve a variety of food but by the way people were ordering, I reckon steamed snake head fish rolled in rice paper with over 10 different veggies is the most popular dish here. They also serve a special long round noodle with pork or pigs feet or normal noodles with Thac Lac fish..."
To read full story click here.
Fuji Restaurant: 188 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Dist. 3. Phone: 930 3110.
The house speciality here is beef barbeque, a pooular Japanese dish.
Hanayuki Restaurant: 74/1A Hai Ba Trung Street, Dist. 1. Phone: 824 2754.
Mid-range Japanese restaurant.
Kampachi: 242 Tran Binh Trong Street, Dist. 5. Phone: 839 7777.
Luxury Japanese restaurant.
The Sushi Bar: 2 Le Thanh Ton Street, Dist. 1. Phone: 823 8042.
A delicious range of 45 types of sushi available here.
Contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
phone: (090) 6039-9341 (JAPAN)