Banh Bao aka The Vietnamese Egg McMuffin
One of the many types of snacks you will find on the street are little buns of goodness called banh bao. Translated as wrapped cake, these bundles of white fluffy dough are all the things that are reminiscent of a breakfast sandwich you can find all over the world, except so much more Southeast Asian. It’s the perfect snack for the Saigonese on the go and can be found all around town.
It looks like baozi but tastes of Vietnam
On first glance, the ball shaped bun looks like baozi, a bun found in China. The dough is fluffy in texture and slightly sweet. The sweetness might be off putting at first but when eaten with the savoury filling, the tastes even themselves out. Minced seasoned pork, wood ear mushrooms, lap xuong (a type of chinese sausage) are pretty much standard filling in banh bao.
The difference is the egg; specifically what type of egg. You can find either a quail egg or salted egg yolk in the mix. We are huge fan of quail eggs here at the tour so we always feel you can never go wrong with going for a double. The salty egg can be a bit wierd for most palates as the saltiness can be a bit overpowering. Also, since the buns are usually sitting in a steamer for awhile, the yolk hardens up and can be a bit chalky in texture.
How much does it cost?
Pricing depends on the type and amount of egg you want in your banh bao. If there are four prices, as in the image below, the most expensive will have two salty eggs, then the next will have just one egg. The price below that will be two quail eggs and the lowest will have only one quail egg.
A bit of history
I grew up eating banh bao in Westminster, California on the weekends where our large family group would go out on random errands. It was a bit of a trek because it usually could include my mom, grandmother, uncle, brother, two sisters or any random cousin who happened to be staying at our house at the time. It was an easy snack to keep a hungry kid going when you’ve been out for 7 hours, shopping for food, clothes, visiting relatives or the pagoda; you know a typical Saturday. So this little ball of dough holds a special place in my heart (and stomach).