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Late night pancakes

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Am I cheap? Or is it just the food I eat? If YOU are cheap and/or you like cheap food you could do worse than Ben Thanh night market. The central market shuts up shop around 5:30-6pm and the night market stalls spring up along the two minor side streets alongside the main building. In a city where waiters start shuffling their feet and hovering with "finish yer bloody coffee, grab yer coat and f*** off" looks from 9pm onwards Ben Thanh night market is a boon. You can stay and scoff your way round here until 2am(ish). And there's heaps to choose from. Sea snails, live crabs, chao long (offal porridge), spring rolls, pancakes and octopus.

The night market opened in 2002 and judging by the number of eager scoffers - it's a big hit. I've only ever pigged out on the Phan Boi Chau street side, but I liked the look of the fresh scallops I spotted on the other side of the market, so I'll be over there sharpish. On this night I stopped off at Huong Nam Binh Thuan's stall to grab some Banh xeo(8,000VD - a pancake filled with beansprouts, shrimp and pork) and 1 round of Banh Can (1,000VD - and egg flour savoury, not to be confused with Banh Canh which is a thick noodle soup - more of which soon).

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Banh xeo - almost done...

The Banh Can are a pleasant enough snack food, heated in a small clay dish (see below) and dipped into a pretty bland sauce. Light and airy, nowt special but they do prepare the way for the main attraction. I have only tried maybe 7 or 8 different Banh xeo and I need more study time (recommendations please...) From my limited experience they seem to come in two different types; the slightly soft crepe brand and the crunchy, edging towards taco territory type. Banh xeo demand dipping sauce of the fish sauce variety which was passable on this occasion. they also come with shrubbery; basil and lettuce leaves tonight. At this spot, the bean sprouts were fresh (so far, so easy), but I'm a crunchy fan and these Banh xeo had crepe aspirations. They weren't bad, and they certainly weren't a grease-fest (which is truely a Banh xeo catastrophe in the making) I just wouldn't go out of my way for more of the same from here.

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Foreground - Banh can. Background - Greasing down the Banh xeo hot plate with fatty pork strips.

It's well worth stopping by this night market, order a Saigon beer and enjoy a pleasant evening nibbling your way around. I haven't finished with this place yet.

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Comments

You mention two variety of Banh Xeo. Actually the thin crust, crepe-like, is the banh xeo. Whereas the thick crust variety is called banh khoai. For the banh xeo, you would use the garlicky nuoc mam as the dipping sauce. For the banh khoai, you use a soy based sauce call mam tuong.

When in Vietnam, I visited Ben Thahn market and bought some coffee. I got home, and it was gone in a week - the best coffee Dad or I have ever tasted! We need more, does anyone have any tips fo buying outside Vietnam? email me at

jackmcintyre [at] optusnet.com [dot] au

I will be very appreciative of suggestions!

the banh-xeo is also one of all my favorite foods..I remember..when I'm a child , my mom still cooked this banh-xeo for me and all of my family's member enjoys..I remember that original taste of this untill today..My English vocabulery is not enough to describe the original taste of this food , but I sure that : If you haven't ever try to eat this banh-xeo , pleise try to enjoy it , and You'll be love it like me..^^
Thank you - the creater of this topic for everybody can see and feel the taste of banh-xeo...Thank you very much..^^

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