Address: 17 Phan Phù Tiên Street, Cát Linh, Đống Đa District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: 6:30am - 12:30pm
Not many people in Vietnam have a religion, but a lot of us have a glorious faith in foods. Faith in foods is something that never wears off. We introduce our foods to foreigners more than our tourist attractions, and we go to some specific places for breakfast, lunch and dinner despite the fact that we have been there so many times we can even remember every single detail of the menu. The bánh cuốn (steamed rolled cake) on Phan Phù Tiên Street is one of those places, where I have been loyal to for more most of my life.
What distinguishes bánh cuốn of one shop from the other is probably the texture of the rolled cake, soft and sticky or rather less glutinous, as well as the lightness or thickness of the nước chấm (dipping sauce, normally made with fish sauce, and water). Of course, like many other traditional foods, there are numerous debates about what categories will constitute the best dishes, but since I have been eating this dish since I was about 5 years old, I am biased to say that no bánh cuốn shops could prevail the one on Phan Phù Tiên Street.
The cake batter here is really light, but has enough flexibility to hold the fillings inside, which are made of pork and wood ear, with an interesting addition of pepper giving a light heat and flavour to the dish. Furthermore, the pieces of bánh cuốn are adorably small, so it is easy for both children and adults to enjoy it. It is also garnished with pork flossings and crunchy fried shallots, and well-presented with a bowl of nicely-seasoned dipping sauce. The sauce is not overwhelming with the smell of fish sauce, and is also added black pepper. I always end up asking for another bowl of dipping sauce, since I use too much like I am drinking it. Also, like many other shops serving bánh cuốn, Hương Hường also offers chả quế (cinnamon pork roll) and steamed lạp xưởng (Chinese sausage).
Since I was small, I had always been observing my parents and sister whenever they eaten bánh cuốn with eggs, but it was only until last week that I have taken all my guts and ordered one for me. The egg was steamed in a bánh cuốn sheet, together with the normal filling of bánh cuốn. As I used the spoon to break the egg york, the york spilled out like a river of tastiness. It was not only rich but also very silky indeed, and tasted a bit like Eggs Benedict.
Normally, I wake up quite late on weekend morning, so by the time we get there, the shop is fully occupied, and we have to wait for about 30 minutes. Whenever it is the case, I always focus on watching how the owners spread the bánh cuốn sheet, then wrap and roll it. It is no difference from watching artists performing culinary arts in front of you. Also, the shop is really clean and has parking area for motorbikes; however, since it is very popular, it would be better if you go early and not have to spend time waiting. A bánh cuốn dish costs 30,000 dong, while a small dish of egg with bánh cuốn costs 5,000 dong.