Our next pew down the local market finds us with the Cake lady. Here we’re talking Banh khot (sometimes called Banh can). They’re small, sweet, savoury pancakes made from ground rice mixed with water to make a batter and in this case some corn is added. They’re normally dipped in nuoc mam (fish sauce) and gob-popped within a few minutes of exiting the pan. Leave them too long, or take an extra bag home as we did, and you’ve got nothing but soggy, no-fun scraps. Speed is of the essence with Banh khot. She’s a seven days a week stallholder and, much like the banana griller we got stuck into recently, you’ll need to book your cake ahead of scofftime. Alternatively, if you’re shopped out, like us, sit stallside, listen to your battered snacks sizzling from the two burners on the go, have a natter and wait your turn.
She sets up stall in front of her house, next to a Bun Bo Hue seller, at the very far end of the market. It’s popular with the youth. We’re here for a good ten minutes and there’s not a codger in sight. Each burner cooks eight Banh khot, but one portion consists of five cakes. You can also ask for a mini-plate of greens and herbs to perform a cake-wrap, if that’s your thing. We opt for straight cakes, chilled via the fish sauce bowl. I was a little too eager to get stuck into these fellas and can report roof-of-mouth-burn is a factor with this dish. A plate is around 5000VD.
Cooked to a crisp, moist inside, slightly sweet. We’ve had better, prawn dusted Banh khot at Co Hai and far worse on Ben Thanh night market, but for al fresco, post-shopping scoff, these hot fluffy fancies and their salty dip will do very nicely thank you very much.