Hot and crispy, banh-trang-nuong the number one food during a chilly night.

Hot and crispy, banh-trang-nuong the number one food during a chilly night.

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Strolling along the streets of Sai Gon at night, one might find himself got lost in the variety of street foods and drinks. However, there is one dish that will definitely catch everyone’s attention, banh-trang-nuong.

Unlike other street foods which are sold throughout the day, banh-trang-nuong is often available from 3 p.m to midnight. A Vietnamese rice pancake is placed on a coal stove, sprinkled with a little chives, onions, shredded dried shrimp and coated with a layer of margarine. Finally, you can choose to crack an egg and spread on it for the extra greasiness.

The grilling continues for about a minute, then the pancake is turned and fold into half, waiting to be served. Young adults prefer to add hot sauce to their pancake, while younger kids ask for another coat of cheese. Based on whatever it is eaten with, this dish can be either sweet or spicy, bringing a different taste every time.

Hot and crispy, banh-trang-nuong is the number one food during a chilly night. You can have it while walking or take a seat at one of those street vendors. They only consist of a few low stools; but the feeling of slowly enjoying a piping hot pancake while watching hundreds of motorcycles passing by is a magnificent experience.

For first-timer, our advice is to stop after the first bite and let the favors melt in your mouth. The sweetness of margarine, the spiciness of hot sauce, the saltiness of dried shrimp, together with the savory of cheese create a harmony that cannot be found anywhere else.

When it is served, the seller will hand you a scissor to cut it into a shape you like. Square, round or triangle, as long as it fits into your mouth, you will not be judged. Some just hold the whole pancake and bite it off, but that will leave crisp on your clothes. Again if you do not mind, nobody does.

Made popular by the school kids, banh-trang-nuong is now a part of the nightlife in almost every big city in Vietnam. The price can be varied, from 8.000 to 15.000 VND, based on what you choose to put into your pancake. It is a cheap and tasty food, appealing not only to Vietnamese youngsters, but also to foreign travelers.

/// Written by Cat Tuong Doan, Vietnam