Bà Đỏ is a very popular eatery in Hue for its selection of savoury steamed rice cakes, known collectively as các món bánh. This eatery has been around for since after the Vietnam War.
We tried everything off their compact, well thought-out menu:
Bánh bèo – steamed saucer-shaped rice flour cakes, topped with finely-chopped dried shrimp, scallions and/or fried shallots and crisp pork-crackling.
Diners sprinkle fish sauce and chili-spiked vinegar on the rice cakes, before spooning them off the shallow, little saucers to eat.
Chả tôm – these looked like shrimp toasts, but are actually fish cakes, with a firm texture reminiscent of Chinese fish cakes or Thai [tod mun pla]). I find these quite bland, and only the dipping sauces provided (either the nước chấm or chili-vinegar dip) salvaged it.
Bánh nậm – these are steamed rice flour paste, topped with minced prawn and wrapped in banana or palm leaves, and steamed. Pretty tasty, although the rice flour paste had a chewy texture which I’m not quite keen on.
The rice paste was pretty sticky, and I found the best way to eat one is to manipulate or roll one up before eating.
Bánh bột lọc - steamed rice flour-tapioca starch cakes with an unshelled whole shrimp embedded inside.
Bánh ram ít - these are chewy steamed glutinous rice cakes, filled with a combination of pork belly, shrimp and topped with minced, dried shrimp. Each of the dumpling would be served atop a crisp-fried rice cracker.
Nem lụi - shrimp forcemeat, wrapped around wands of lemongrass and grilled. These cooked shrimp “sausage” are then wrapped in thin rice paper together with thinly-sliced local Huế figs, green mango, cucumber, lettuce and fresh herbs. Dipped into a peanutty-spicy-sour-sweet sauce, it’s astonishingly tasty.
Bánh khoái - this crepe is a Huế specialty and is slightly thicker, crispier and much tastier than the more generic bánh xèo. Filled with beansprouts, chives, ham and shrimps, the crepes packed some really big flavours.
Amazingly popular eatery. Turnover and service are pretty fast.
Quan Banh Bà Đỏ
7 - 8 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm (1.86 km)
054 Hue, Vietnam
Tel: +84 54 3541 182
Opening hours: 8am to 9pm daily