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. The big glossy green leaf is the special fella here. Name anyone? I fully intend to dissect this whole plate at another sitting. Any help mucho appreciated.
There’s no real cooking involved here, a bit of boiled pork and someone slings the nuoc mam together. The whole thing’s more of a gardening experience than a cooking one. Someone somewhere in this town must have a killer herb garden and this restaurant knows who that is. Whenever we grab this as a take home job there’s always enough herbs leftover to hash into something else the next day. Alternatively, we sometimes order an extra plate or two of pork and rice paper to take the same trip the next day. There must be other places serving this in Saigon, although I can’t recall seeing one, but when it’s this good I’m not really looking for anywhere else anyway.
They serve a few other dishes. I’ve covered the slurpworthy Banh Canh from here before. Banh trang phoi suong for two with drinks is less than 40,000VD. From Quan Co Tam – Banh Canh Trang Bang, 188 Nguyen Van Thu Street, Phuong Da Kao, District 1. Deffo worth a visit.