I stopped by Mong Thu Café for lunch on a Saturday. This was my first time back here since they closed for renovations a few months ago. I didn’t notice much different in the dining room other than maybe a fresh coat of paint.
I actually had intended to go to Hoang Dat to get some of their meatballs in broth, but found that sadly they had closed permanently back in April. So I was excited to see that Mong Thu had the same dish (banh mi xiu mai) on their menu.
Unfortunately, they were out of that for the day. So I ordered the banh uot cha lua ($11) instead. Described on the menu as sliced cured pork and fried shrimp pancake served with thick rice noodles, this dish was new to me. The banh uot are wide noodle sheets, similar in texture to a banh cuon wrapper. They were served with slices of somewhat spongy pork sausage (cha lua), fried shallots, a generous amount of nicely fried crispy shrimp pancakes, and some herbs, cucumber, and lettuce on the side, along with a salty sweet dipping sauce. The shrimp in the pancakes still had their shells on, but they were cooked so that the shells were quite soft and edible. I liked it. I’m not the biggest fan of cha lua pork sausage in general, but the slippery noodles and crispy shrimp pancakes hit the spot, combined with the fresh vegetables and herbs and bright dipping sauce.