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I spent my holiday this month in my home town, Nha Trang, the charming coastal city in the central part of Vietnam that has recently played host to some beauty contests.

Apart from lazing on the beach and chatting with local folks, I enjoy eating local specialties, particularly banh can, a simple, yet delicious healthy dish for breakfast.

Banh can are small round cakes made of rice flour batter, baked on charcoal and served with fried green onion, fish sauce and thinly-shredded green mango. On request, chicken or quail eggs can be added to the batter for another variation on the cake. The eggs change the colour from white to yellow.

A cheap rural food, banh can is served at simple places in town. Among them, the shop at 148 Hoang Hoa Tham street is a small, cosy place for banh can lovers.  At the door step of the house, a middle-aged woman huddles in front of an earthenware stove.  She is surrounded by customers waiting to eat at low tables and chairs.

The round oven is topped with a round cast iron tray about 60cm in diameter that has more than a dozen round moulds to pour the batter into.  According to the shop owner, rice should be ground and mixed with water into a runny white batter. Then she pours it into the moulds and covers them with little pottery lids.

A serving of banh can has four small cakes served with spring onions and Nha Trang’s specialty fish sauce mixed with mouthwatering lemon juice, garlic, sugar and red pepper.

It takes a while for the cakes to be cooked, but all the customers wait patiently.

Tom Nunn, a tourist from the U.K. eating at the shop, says, “I love the cakes and the fish sauce. They’re delicious. The cakes texture is similar to English crumpets but the sweetness and spiciness of the sauce gives them the edge! I find it boring to eat food in restaurants all the time, so I venture out to explore new dishes at local food shops.”

The shop opens from 5:30 a.m.-9 a.m. every day.  Each serving costs a mere VND3,000.
By saigontimes

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