Fast food in Saigon: Wrap & Roll

This is my first time back to Saigon since 2004. Massive construction around district 1 lets me know that the economy is booming.

wrap_roll_sign

Nowhere is this more evident than in the gastronomic sector. Beyond embracing international fast food chains like KFC, Burger King and Jollie Bee; Vietnamese entrepreneurs have taken intrinsically Vietnamese dishes and built up small fast food chains around them. I’ve spotted chains for cơm (rice +), bánh mi (baguette sandwiches) and bánh cuốn (sometimes described as enchilada-esque).

sauce

Bánh cuốn, being one of my favorite VN dishes, I visited Wrap & Roll’s Hai Bà Trưng location in district 1. Described as the Vietnamese enchilada, bánh cuốn is rice gluten, made into sheets and rolled with meat and vegetables, typically with pork and mushrooms.

banh cuon

Because I haven’t eaten bánh cuốn in a long time (2 years), I’m not sure this is best in its class (in fact I doubt it). But as far as fast food goes, it was delicious. Though leeks, soy sauce and chili paste are available accompaniments, I decided that nước mấm was enough. Pork floss and dried onion garnished the dish, adding necessary salt and onion flavor. Served warm with nước mấm accenting the pork and mushrooms and made to order (bánh cuốn has to be made to order, or it would be crunchy, think of pre-made scrambled eggs) it was a deal at just under $2 USD.

seaweed_taro_dessert

For dessert I had the che with taro, seaweed and coconut milk. In the Bay Area, we usually eat our che cold, but it was served warm. No mind, it was just the sweet I need to cap off the savory bánh cuốn.

8 responses to “Fast food in Saigon: Wrap & Roll

  1. Looks amazing! Did you wrap them yourself?

  2. @connie, banh cuon is made like a crepe, so you order it and it arrives like this. Oakland has a great banh cuon place:

    Banh Cuon Tay Ho Restaurant
    344 12th St # B
    Oakland, CA 94607
    (510) 836-6388‎

    Try it, if you haven’t before. :) It’s seriously one of my favorite VN dishes.

  3. hey christine!
    have fun in vietnam, can’t wait to hear more travel and food stories. yum. it must be f-ing hot there….

  4. Hey Novella! It’s Christine–this post was written by my friend and one of the writers at Muffin Top, Mai! (Not moi).

    But I did just get back from China–and hopefully will find the time/energy in me to post about my food travails there. Biggest food trend (at least in Beijing): foods on sticks! I’m talking: chicken livers on sticks, candied fruits on sticks, scorpions (yes) on sticks! etc., etc.

  5. Hi Christine! Great site – somehow I found you through link from Fancy Food Show from year’s past. What kinds of desserts did you see in Saigon? What is the most popular dessert in Vietnam? Great pics BTW!

  6. So how is this different from those darling rice and shrimp rolls I buy in East Oakland at the Cambodian grocery -we call them fresh spring rolls or Vietnamese spring rolls? Looks like the same rice gluten wrap.

    These look really good. I will go to downtown Oakland to find this place you mentioned. Maybe it’s the one I already go to for the shrimp rolls…

  7. Google maps with street view is my friend. I just found this place there and no, I haven’t been here, but now I know exactly where it is and what it looks like.

  8. It’s served warm and they start with rice flour and make the banh cuon fresh, unlike vn spring rolls that start as a dried sheet that one wraps cold/ room temperature items in. They also have toppings on them, it’s wholly different (I hadn’t considered that they might be similar…). Try them and you’ll see.

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