A rustic food stall located in a small alley in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh District has been drawing crowds for the past five decades thanks to its tangy banh uot.
Every morning, from 7:00 am to 9:00 am, hungry commuters line up in front of a no-name food cart in Alley 123, Nghia Phat Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, eager to start their day with a delicious plate of banh uot (steamed rice crepes).
|Customers enjoy 'banh uot' at Lan’s stall on Nghia Phat Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Lan, 60, the stall’s current owner, inherited the family business from her mother and, despite the fact that she’s getting older, she still manages to keep up with the steady stream of customers that visit her each morning for breakfast.
A major part of what makes Lan’s stall so special is her willingness to serve as much (or as little) as her customers like.
She has no problem selling just VND3,000 (US$0.13) of steamed rice crepes looking for a quick, basic bite.
The batter Lan uses for her steamed rice crepes is homemade. It is combined with a specialized mixing technique that ensures each crepe is soft and chewy.
|Lan prepares 'banh uot' for a customer on Nghia Phat Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Normally, Lan sells her banh uot without toppings for just VND5,000 ($0.21). Each plate is topped with fried shallots and served with a side of fish sauce.
Customers willing to shell out a bit of extra cash can have their banh uot topped with Vietnamese spring rolls, fried tofu, and Vietnamese pork bologna for VND12,000 to 15,000 ($0.51-0.64).
The toppings are all very traditional, with the Vietnamese pork sausage featuring minimal flour, giving it a fragrant scent and punch of flavor in each bite.
|Handmade 'banh uot' is a staple at Lan’s stall. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Lan's fried tofu is also distinctive in that it includes scallions.
No banh uot would be complete without two essential flavors: fish sauce and fried shallots.
Lan makes these herself using a secret recipe that has kept customers returning to her stall for the past 50 years.