Posted by: adventuressetravels | October 19, 2012

Ban Xeo: Vietnam’s Omelet Pancakes

“Let’s eat there!” I pointed to a street corner with kindergartener-sized street-side plastic tables and chairs.  By Western standards this wouldn’t have registered as a restaurant, but we were in Vietnam.  Here the miniature red plastic tables were filled with Vietnamese people feasting on greens, and something that looked delicious.  Delicious, not meat, and not soup.

As much as I love pho and the Vietnamese soups, the hot humid weather definitely did not put me in a soup mood, however mouthwatering the spices were.  In fact, even after more than two months in Vietnam I am still not entirely sure how hot humid weather makes one want to eat a steaming bowl of spicy noodle soup.

When Dan parked the motorbike I got a closer look at what they were eating:  golden-brown folded-over pancake omelet-like things.  On one side of the tables a 40-something Vietnamese woman was pouring batter into six saucer-sized iron pans fixed in a larger metal disc.  A fire below cooked the treat quickly and evenly while the woman sprinkled bean sprouts, whole squid, and shrimp around the pan.  With an expert eye she judged when the batter and seafood were cooked just perfectly, folded the creation over and put the semi-circle to cool on a long table off to the side.

I was sold.  I had to try these little delicacies.  When the woman told me that each one was only $5,000 dong, about 25 cents, Dan and I ordered four.  Just to start.

We took our seats and immediately another, older woman ladled a clear orange-colored sauce into little bowls, squeezed a bit of lime, and dash some chili sauce and indicated that it was to dip our food in.

When the creations were cool enough, I dipped the first pancake, or ban xeo (sizzling cake) as I later learned, in the sauce and put it in my mouth.  The sweet, sour, and spicy flavor of the sauce complimented the crispy pancake perfectly.  The textures were a match made in heaven:  the crunch of the pancake, the crisp juiciness of the bean sprouts, and the squid.  I would be hard-pressed to think of any time I have eaten more perfectly cooked squid; it was so tender it all but dissolved in your mouth.

Dip the pancake in the sauce, eat a massive lettuce leaf, from the basket of greens that invariably accompanies Vietnamese meals, to cleanse the palate, and go back for more.  The first plate was gone in a few bites.  The moment one plate was gone another magically appeared.  Four at a time the piping-hot treats came to our table.  Even after we were full it was hard to stop eating these culinary wonders.

Ban xeo is unquestionably one of my favorite dishes in Vietnam, but though I have ordered it at numerous other places, from nicer restaurants to other street stands, all places have paled in comparison to this favorite street restaurant of mine in Nha Trang.

Heiu Anh My Dung, is painted on the outside of the restaurant, but the faded letters make me wonder whether or not that is really the restaurant’s name.  In any case, this fantastic place is not hard to find.  It is directly across the street of the Cham temple, Po Nagr, on the corner of 2 Tang 4 and Bo Ke Bac Street.  If you visit the beach town of Nha Trang I highly recommend seeking this scrumptious restaurant out.

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Responses

  1. The omelette format suggests a French influence lurking in the past.


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