My wife and I traveled to Da Lat for last week, where we stayed in Da Lat Train Villa for 4 nights before heading to a resort on the beach of Mui Ne for other 3 nights. The weather wasn’t perfect all the time, but we were very pleased with all the food we got to try. Among the local flavors in Da Lat city, I would like to introduce 3 fabulous street foods to try; Banh Uot Long Ga, Banh Trang Nuong and Banh Can.
If you are not familiar with Da Lat yet, it’s the capital city of Lam Dong Province in the southern part of the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. The city is located some 1,500m (5000 ft.) above sea level, right in the center of the Langbian Plateau with Vietnamese coffee plantations. Young Vietnamese tend to choose Da Lat for their honeymoon vacation, as the city is also known for its blossoming flowers.
Come back to the street food, Banh Uot Long Ga (steamed rice pancake with chicken, pork and dipping sauce) is one of Dalat city’s specialties, it’s served by several local family-run restaurants. During 5 days of our stay in the city, we came back to Banh Uot Long Ga Trang on Tang Bat Ho Street 3 times.
The dish features a smart combination of steamed rice pancake, Vietnamese rice donut, shred boiled chicken, sliced boiled pig’s heart, thinly sliced yellow onion, fresh basil, mixed dipping sauce and topped with fresh chilies. A simple mix of them in the bowl then you’re on your way, every ingredient turns out to be just right. This is what you want, what you need. It’s the path to true happiness when you are in Da Lat!
The second best street food in Da Lat must be the Banh Trang Nuong (grilled pancake), which is served on almost every sidewalk in the city. Sitting beside a small basket with burning charcoal, the lady who grilled our cake said she grills more than 200 every evening. The pancake is a perfect choice for a chilling atmosphere of Da Lat, especially when you are strolling around the city or wanting to sit down for people watch.
The third dish is Banh Can (baked rice cake with egg), which is a popular cake in the South Central region, especially in the provinces of Lam Dong, Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan. This rice flour is baked on an earthenware, which has many round holes to place the mold. The batter is poured into lightly oiled griller mold over a charcoal brazier, once the batter starts to bubble, the quail egg or whistled chicken egg is added on the top. It takes a few minutes to cook through. Banh Can is a popular street food snack in Da Lat, most people eat it as a late afternoon snack or after dinner for supper. It's actually quite filling and heavy if you have more than 6 of them with eggs.
Banh Can is served with either Mam Mem (fermented fish residue) or a local style mixed Nuoc Mam (diluted fish sauce), both are great options for Banh Can. In each of those dipping sauces, chopped garlic, green Nha Trang Sim chili, chopped cucumber, green mangoes and star fruit are also added. You want to dip the whole cake into the sauce, then you can go from there. Don’t be fool with the green Sim chili, it’s famous for its fragrant aroma but not too hot.
With such a combination of fruits and fish sauce, the dipping sauces for Banh Can offers a rich, fresh and spicy taste. I love the smokiness of the grilled cake with the taste of the dipping sauce in my mouth, creating a great flavor. This dish is not available in Hanoi, I think someone open one Banh Can my city I would be a frequent client.