The Banh Dictionary

    To those of us who raise an eyebrow over names like “fish cake”, “spicy rice cake”, “sticky rice cake”: you’re not alone. Whether you actually know what they are, you know that they must not be the right translation, and more amusingly, that they’re not even related enough to live together under the “cake” category. The Vietnamese label “bánh” (pronounced |beng| in the North and a no-equivalent-English-sound, mouth-horizontally-widened fashion in the South) for everything made from flour, whether it be a noodle or a gateau. And it’s tiring to hear every “bánh” turns into a “cake” after translation. So this page is my comprehensive and continuously updated list of the Vietnamese bánh‘s and their correct translations (and an extremely feeble attempt to phoneticize the Northern pronunciation).


    Bánh bao – |beng bao| – steamed bun – “bao”: to wrap up; bánh bao is the Vietnamese version of baozi, wheat flour, savory
    — Bánh bao chỉ – |beng bao ji| – snowball, Vietnamese mochi, loh mai chi – sticky rice flour, sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh bao chiên – |beng bao jien| – fried bánh bao – savory
    Bánh bèo – |beng beo| – waterfern banh – “bèo”: waterfern, referring to the shape and size of the banh – rice flour, savory(*), Central VN
    Bánh bía – |beng bia| – pia pastry, Vietnamese-adapted Suzhou mooncake – wheat flour, savory or sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh bò – |beng bo| – steamed rice sponge cake, bak tong goh – rice flour, sweet, Southern VN
    — Bánh bò bông – |beng bo bong| – steamed sponge muffin
    Bánh bò nướng – |beng bo nu-eung| – grilled sponge muffin
    Bánh bông lan – |beng bong lan| – cake (birthday cake and stuff like that) – sweet
    Bánh bột lọc – |beng bot lok| – clear flat dumpling – cassava flour with savory shrimp fillings, Central VN


    Bánh cam – |beng kam| – deep fried sesame ball – “cam”: orange (the color of the banh) – sticky rice flour, sesame coating, red bean filling, sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh canh – |beng keng| – chewy short rice noodle – used in noodle soup, similar to udon but shorter and translucent, also referring  to the noodle soup itself, savory
    Bánh cáy – |beng kay| – crispy rice treats with crab egg – “cáy”: a kind of small crab – sticky rice, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh căn – |beng kaen| – stone grilled flat banh – a crunchy, airy, chewy, and thicker version of  bánh bèo, rice flour, savory(*), Central VN
    Bánh chuối nướng – |beng jui nu-eung| – baked banana bread – bread and banana, sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh chưng – |beng jung| – Lunar New Year cake – sticky rice with mung bean and lean pork filling, savory, Northern VN
    Bánh cốm – |beng kom| – rice flake minicake – “cốm”: rice flake, made from dried flattened young grains – rice, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh cống – |beng kong| – fried mung bean minibread – mung bean with shrimp or pork, savory(*), Southern VN
    Bánh cuốn – |beng kuon| – steamed (rice) roll – rice flour with pork and mushroom filling , savory(*), Northern VN


    Bánh da lợn – |beng yah leun| – pig skin pie – tapioca flour, with at least 3 layers: 1 layer of mung bean sandwiched between 2 chewy tapioca layers that resemble pig skin, sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh dầy |beng yay|
    — Bánh dầy giò – |beng yay zoh| – sticky rice bun with sausage, chewy bun with sausage – sticky rice, chả lụa, savory, Northern VN
    Bánh dầy đậu – |beng yay dou| – mung bean mochi – sticky rice, mung bean, savory, Northern VN
    Bánh dừa – |beng yuah| – coconut (sticky rice) stick – sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh đa – |beng dah| – the Northern Vietnamese name of grilled thick Bánh Tráng
    Bánh đập – |beng dup| – mashed banh – pieces of grilled bánh tráng and fresh bánh ướt stick together (i.e. a bánh tráng and a bánh ướt is mashed together) – rice flour, savory(*), Central VN
    Bánh đậu (bánh đậu xanh) – |beng deu-ooh xeng| – mung bean cookie – mung bean flour, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh đúc – |beng dook| – rice slab – “đúc”: to cast (in sculpture), batter is steamed in a bowl to form a white gelatinous slab, eaten with savory sauces, pork, mushroom – rice or corn flour, savory(*), Northern VN


    Bánh gai (bánh ít lá gai) – |beng it lah ghai| – thorn leaf sticky rice bun – sticky rice flour, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh gio – |beng zo| – the Northern Vietnamese name of Bánh Ú Tro
    Bánh giò – |beng zo| – savory steamed rice dumpling – rice flour, pork and mushroom filling, savory, Northern VN


    Bánh hỏi – |beng hoi| – rice noodle mesh – savory(*), Central and Southern VN


    Bánh in – the Southern name of Bánh khảo
    Bánh ít – |beng it| – sweet sticky rice cone – sticky rice flour, coconut or mung bean filling, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh ít quy – see Bánh quy
    Bánh ít ram – |beng it ram| – half fried mochi ball – sticky rice flour, shrimp and meat filling, Central VN


    bánh khảo/bánh in – |beng khao/beng in| – “pressed” snack bar with mung bean paste – “in”: to print, to press – dried sticky rice flour, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh khoai mì – |beng kho-ai mee| – cassava banh – cassava flour, sweet, Southern VN
    Bánh khoái – |beng kho-ai| – fried rice pizza – similar to Bánh Xèo but thicker and crunchier – rice flour, meat, shrimp, vegetable, savory, Central VN
    Bánh khọt – |beng khot| – fried coconut rice minibread – rice flour mixed with coconut milk, shrimp, savory(*), Southern VN
    Bánh khúc (xôi khúc, xôi cúc) – |beng khook| – cudweed xoiJersey-cudweed– (gnaphalium affine) leaf-flavoring sticky rice, steamed, mung bean (and sometimes fatty pork) filling, savory, Northern VN


    Bánh lọt – |beng lot| –
    Bánh lỗ tai heo (bánh tai heo) – |beng loh tai heo| – pig ear cookie (cookies shaped like pig ears) – sweet, crunchy, Southern VN


    Bánh mật – |beng muht| –
    Bánh men – |beng men| – yeast cookie – tapioca flour, sweet, crunchy, powdery, Southern VN
    Bánh mì – |beng mee| – Vietnamese sandwich – savory


    Bánh nậm – |beng num| –


    Bánh phồng tôm – |beng fong tom| – shrimp cracker – a crunchy, airy cracker often accompanying salads, savory
    Bánh phục linh – |beng fook ling| – tapioca cookie – similar to Bánh men but thicker, sweet, powdery
    Bánh phu thê – |beng foo theh| – see Bánh xu xê


    Bánh quế – |beng kueh| –
    Bánh quy – |beng kwee| – turtle mochi – sweet, sticky rice dumpling with coconut or mung bean paste filling


    Bánh su kem -|beng shu kem| –  choux pastry, creme puff


    Bánh tầm bì – |beng tum bee| – thick rice noodle with shredded pork skin, savory(*)
    Bánh tẻ – |beng tae| –
    Bánh tét – |beng taet| – sticky rice log – mung bean paste and fatty pork filling, savory, Southern VN
    Bánh tiêu – |beng teew| – Chinese sesame beignet – hollow plain doughnut (not sweet), Southern VN
    Bánh tổ – |beng toh| –
    Bánh tổ ong – |beng toh ong| – waffle
    — Bánh tổ ong lá dứa – |beng toh ong lah yuah| – green waffle, pandan leaf waffle
    Bánh tôm – |beng tom| –
    Bánh tráng – |beng jang| – rice paper – rice flour, either use as wrapper for rolls (if thin) or toasted and eaten as snack (if thick)
    Bánh trôi – |beng joi| – (chè trôi nước, chè xôi nước) – mochi in ginger syrup – mung bean filling, sweet, Northern VN
    Bánh trung thu – |beng jung thoo| – mooncake, sweet or savory


    Bánh ú tro – |beng ooh joh| – Vietnamese-adapted jianshui zongash dumpling – sticky rice, red bean paste filling, sweet
    Bánh ướt – |beng uout| – rice noodle sheet – “ướt”: wet – rice flour, eaten with meat and savory dipping sauces(*), Northern VN


    Bánh xèo – |beng xe-oh| – sizzling crepe – eaten with mixed fish sauce (nước chấm), savory, Southern VN
    Bánh xu xê – |beng xoo xeh| – (couple cookie) – a strayed pronunciation but more-commonly-used name of Bánh Phu Thê , a jello pastry made of sticky rice flour and arrowroot starch, mung bean paste filling, sweet, Northern VN

    (*): eaten with mixed fish sauce (nước chấm)

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