Bánh Bèo Huế Steamed Rice Cakes Hue Style – 285 of 365

Bánh Bèo Huế

Yes, Ben Thanh Market is infested with tourists and all the hassles that accompany such a venue.  A friend wanted to try lunch there, and of course I obliged never wanting to turn down a new food discovery.  I must say that the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths (though the actual food tasted good).

Why is it that I cannot walk more than two feet inside this market without some vendor touching me, grabbing my arms, grabbing my shirt or otherwise molesting my personal space?  Then they have the nerve to show irritation when I either ignore them or tell them no.  How would you like to walk through a shopping mall in America and have no fewer than two dozen people grope you and forcefully latch onto your bodily appendages all within the confines of the food court?  Yeah, I know.  We have the Japanese hibachi shop shoving sample wads of teriyaki chicken speared on a toothpick in our faces, but still, that does not rise to the same level as people physically grabbing onto me and holding me back from walking while frantically saying, “Sir, sir, you eat my food.   You buy from me!”

A Peaceful Food Stand

Finally we had enough when three women from three different food stalls simultaneously grabbed us, shoved menus in our faces and pulled our arms in some desperate tug of war.  One of the laminated menus cut my forearm and drew blood.  I really began to shut down and wanted to just scream “make it stop!”  My friend and I decided if this was going to work we would reward a food stall lacking the aggressive sales tactics with our business.  Soon enough we found such a place packed with Vietnamese people rather than tourists and settled in for a 75 cent serving of bánh bèo Huế or steamed rice cakes Hue style.

These chewy blobs hold very little inherent flavor save for the tiny amount of filling.  Ours seemed to be of a dried shrimp variety.  I couldn’t tell for sure though.  Some dark brown squares had the crunch of a crouton but the taste of an animal product.  I don’t know that I want to know what exactly these little jewels were.  Their bacon taste was good so let’s just leave it at that.  Sweetened fish sauce, cilantro, and ground chili pepper added some flavor to the otherwise bland dumplings.  The piece of peppery pork sausage was great.  Each bite faded away the aggressive sales tactics of other food stands more and more.

All in all, I enjoyed this lunch.  Once we were done clumsily eating these slippery things with chopsticks, we made a beeline for the closest exit and escaped back into the peaceful in comparison streets.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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