After the kimchi bug finally flushed its last, I was back on the streets last Friday and heading into Chinatown to Cho Lon post office again for another parcel pick-up. During my last visit this way, the post office staff suggested I hit their local pho joint. This time around I took matters into my own hands at a line of three stalls, huddled next to each other just over the road from the main entrance to the post office. There were three options, all of which I have blogged up before; Banh xeo, Mia da and Banh mi. The Banh mi stall is missing in the shot above as the rains arrived mid-mastication and she was first to jump ship and save her soggy bread.
Actually, I haven’t blogged up this banh mi rendition before. This is Banh mi op la, it’s as simple as it gets. Basically an egg sarnie (or baguette) nothing more, nothing less. It’s solid breakfast grub. The seller, who speaks decent English, will give you the option of one or two fried eggs. I opted for the one egg number as my stomach was already rumbling at the sight of Mrs. Pancake’s Banh xeo a couple of stalls up. Even with the ongoing bird flu paranoia in Vietnam, I find Vietnamese eggs are a mighty tasty feed. A couple of these sarnies could well sort you out at breakfast with little need for any additional tucker. But, one’s enough today, however I’m still peckish and I have a blog to feed. So, moving on…
I swilled the egg butty down with a cool glass of Mia da. There’s nothing much new to say about this that I haven’t mentioned before – it’s still an excellent sugarcane thirst quencher and I have it at least once a week. With the wind picking up, I was eager to sample the streetside Banh xeo before rain stopped play. It certainly looked like quality street nosh; clean leaves, attractive looking nuoc mam (fish sauce) with thin strips of carrot and chilli and then there’s the large beansprout, pork and prawn filled wafer thin Banh xeo. This is a solid workmanlike rendition, way better than the one I had at Ben Thanh night market, but not up to the standard of Saigon’s premier Banh xeo haunt. The main criticisms being this Chinatown chick chucks too much chili into her nuoc mam and edges her pancake a little too firmly into grease territory for my delicate waistline. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Banh xeo banter that ensued at these stalls and I’ll be back.
Despite the rain, this stall holder was doing a stonking takeaway/office delivery trade from her one burner stall. Above you can see a tray set for several diners just waiting on the pancakes to arrive piping fresh from the pavement level pan. She also sells Hu Tieu (Pork noodle soup). As for the bill, hold onto your hats: Banh mi op la – 3,000VD, Mia da – 2,000VD, Banh xeo – 6,000VD. That’s an 11,000VD street stuffing or 70 US cents, 38 British pence or, for readers in Greenland, that’s 4.3 Greenland Krone. Bargainsville Chinatown champs. Yum.