Vietnamese Food Spotlight – Is “Banh Duc Nong” Better Than Pho?
In this Vietnamese Food Spotlight, we would like to introduce you to Banh Duc Nong, an amazing Vietnamese food you may not know. Originating in the north but served all over Vietnam, it is a very unique dish. Vietnamese food is famous for its world-class soups. Banh Duc Nong is as delicious and flavorful as any of them, but that’s not what makes it special. Banh Duc Nong is unique because it’s filled with ooey gooey goodness. In your face, Pho!
The Gooey Vietnamese Food
Banh Duc Nong is the only gooey Vietnamese food we know. This makes it a godsend for us. After nearly a year in Vietnam, we occasionally miss the gooeyness of a good ole casserole or anything smothered in cheese. We absolutely love Vietnamese food, but it doesn’t use cheese or have many gooey dishes.
A nice bowl satisfies our American craving for gooey with an authentic Vietnamese food. Otherwise, we would have to resort to an overpriced western restaurant to get our fix.
Is Banh Duc Nong better than Pho? We both love Banh Duc Nong, but have mixed opinions on this question. Steve says yes. Vanessa says no. We’ll explain our opinions after we talk about how it tastes.Banh Duc Nong is the only gooey Vietnamese food we know.Click To Tweet
A Balanced and Flavorful Vietnamese Food
Banh Duc Nong is more than just gooey. It’s a delicious, hearty soup with a balance of many distinct flavors. The broth is pork based. The gooey stuff is made from glutinous rice flour. Like many Vietnamese soups, the toppings are added just before serving. This preserves their individual flavors and prevents everything from becoming a soggy mess. The toppings are minced pork cooked with black mushrooms, fried onions, fresh herbs, and crispy tofu puffs. Fish sauce and chili paste are added at the table.
The black mushrooms really add a lot to the overall flavor. They are earthy and savory and balance out the mild sweetness of the pork and gooey stuff. The fried onions and crispy tofu puffs add a bit of salt. And their crunch balances out the gooey. The herbs add a freshness that balances out the other sweet, savory, and salty flavors. The flavors mingle and yet keep their individuality. Each mouthful can be a little different. It keeps your pallet guessing. Eating this harmonious blend of textures and flavors is a real treat.
What’s Up With That Gooey Stuff?
The gooey stuff is made from glutinous rice flour. It’s mildly sweet, but not more than regular rice noodles. The gooey stuff is close in texture to melted mozzarella cheese. Melted mozzarella is a firmer and chewier, but it’s close in texture. The gooey stuff in Banh Duc Nong is substantial enough to have that satisfying texture, but then it just melts in your mouth. It’s fun and feels indulgent to eat.
The gooey stuff is actually called “banh duc,” hence the name of the soup. The Vietnamese word “nong” simply means “hot.” We have avoided calling the gooey stuff by its proper name to avoid confusion with another Vietnamese food that also goes by the name “banh duc.” The other dish named “banh duc” is made from the same glutinous rice flour, but it is not a soup dish. So when ordering, make sure you say or point to “Banh Duc Nong.” It would be easy to see just Banh Duc on a menu and think that it’s the same. It’s not.
Better Than Pho?
Is Banh Duc Nong Better than Pho?
“I love Pho, but Banh Duc Nong is clearly the better Vietnamese food for 4 reasons:
• Banh Duc Nong is equal in delicious flavor to Pho
• Banh Duc Nong has more and better textures than Pho. It is gooey and crunchy. Pho has none of that.
• Banh Duc Nong’s textures enhance both the flavor and the overall eating experience.
• Banh Duc Nong is unique among Vietnamese food. There some gooey desserts, but it’s unique as a hot gooey main dish.”
“For me, Banh Duc Nong is the new champion of Vietnamese food. (Of course, I still eat lots of Pho.)”
“I love Banh Duc Nong, but get real Steve. Pho is the yummy classic, and everybody knows it. Pho is still the best Vietnamese food. No question. (Of course, I do crave that gooey goodness from time to time.)”
The Best Banh Duc Nong in Saigon
You can find Saigon’s best Banh Duc Nong at Banh Duc Nong Ba Gia. As you can see in the very name of the restaurant, they specialize in this dish. They serve 2 varieties of Banh Duc Nong: regular and “Bahn Duc Nong Voi Cha.” In the latter, they simply add some extra pork deli meats on top. We recommend the regular version. The “Voi Cha” version is pretty good, but ruins the delicate balance of flavors, in our opinion.
Also, There is no chance of the name confusion mentioned above at this restaurant. They do not serve the other dish named “banh duc.”
We’d like to thank our friend Sara (and local Vietnamese food expert) for showing us the Banh Duc Nong Ba Gia restaurant. Their soup is absolutely delicious and costs only 15,000VND ($0.65USD). Her insight and opinions as a Vietnamese person who has lived all over the country has been extremely helpful.
When at this restaurant, get an order of “Bahn Bot Loc La” on the side. They are almost like a small steamed dumpling stuffed with shrimp and wrapped in banana leaves. When you peel the leaves. Bahn Bot Loc La look like this.
Dip them in Nuoc Mam and enjoy. An order of 5, costs only 10,000VND ($0.44USD)
Wash it all down with a bottle of Rong Bein Tuoi for another 10,000VND ($0.44USD). It’s a delicious tea made from a type of seaweed. It tastes fantastic.
Banh Duc Nong Ba Gia – It’s a small place, but it’s actually on google maps.
Address: 76 Cuu Long, P15, Q10, HCMC
Phone: 0934666861 (They don’t speak English.)