I’ve been back to Texas heat and rain for a week, but my blog will still be on California for who knows how long. With my snail fast speed *maybe* we’ll finish talking about California when I graduate.
Anyway, 3 years after leaving Saigon guess where I had my first Vietnamese banh bao in America… Lee’s Sandwiches in Houston.
My first impression? Decent. That’s all I could say about Lee’s banh bao. But that was then. Now I can say something else: Huong’s banh bao is better. (I blogged about Huong’s Sandwiches here and here)
Both have half a boiled egg, seasoned ground pork, one piece of boiled Chinese sausage (lap xuong), and some kind of vegetable relatives, which is green pea in Huong’s version and some diced carrot in Lee’s. Both are coated with a thick layer of wheat dough, then steamed, hence banh bao can be called steamed bun. The piece of boiled Chinese sausage, remnant from the Chinese ancestor baozi, is a letdown in both Huong’s and Lee’s (the moral of the story is never eat your Chinese sausage boiled just because it tastes good when it’s fried). So what’s the difference? Well, the coat is one difference. Huong’s has it fluffy and light, it looks thick but it tastes lighter than the inner fluff of a biscuit, and the inner most side is wet with sauce from the stuffing. The stuffing is the other difference. Huong’s is slightly sweet, slightly salty, slightly peppered, and it was just down right savory. I savored it, every bite. That clump of meat couldn’t be any better seasoned, the egg also sipped some of the savory sauce and became seasoned itself. For only $1.50, it surely makes your tummy happy for a while.
We got one banh bao with 4 banh mi thit nuong and a tray of banh bot loc, all for $15.50, and the lady took only $15 (we believe she didn’t want to break our 5-dollar bill, since we didn’t have 50c in change). She doesn’t know a whole lot of English, but we could tell she was happy that Mudpie could speak some Vietnamese. 🙂 I don’t know when I will be in the area again, so I’m counting on Mudpie to do more exploration with the wide variety of labelless food items in that little shop.