Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng – a delightful Đà Nẵng bánh xèo experience

June 02, 2024 - 10:03
Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng is a popular and tasty bánh xèo restaurant in Đà Nẵng with quick service and affordable prices.
Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng has been open for several decades. VNS Photo Việt Dũng

by Việt Dũng

Bánh xèo is a crispy, stuffed rice crepe that many Vietnamese are all too familiar with, so I was a bit surprised when someone suggested I try out Đà Nẵng City’s bánh xèo, which is considered a regional specialty.

I was in Đà Nẵng for a trip when I asked a local about what dish should I – a visitor from HCM City – sample there.

I was expecting some weird dishes that I had never tried before, like some interesting noodle dishes or something similar, but to my surprise, they told me to try out the bánh xèo here.

Looking up bánh xèo shops, there were plenty to choose from, so I just picked a popular one called Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng, or Mrs Dưỡng's Bánh Xèo Shop in Hải Châu District.

The shop, which has been around for several decades, is tucked in a small alley in Hoàng Diệu Street, and my wife and I counted ourselves lucky for having travelled here on a motorbike instead of a taxi, otherwise it would have been an extra 100m walk.

I was admittedly a bit worried when I first encountered the shop’s tiny green gate, but entering inside I was pleasantly surprised by how big and clean the inner area was.

However, while the space itself is quite big, it is packed with many tables crowded with local and foreign diners alike. Everyone can still be seated very comfortably, but don’t expect space for children to run around.

We glanced at the menu plastered on the walls and quickly ordered a portion of bánh xèo, some grilled Vietnamese fermented pork sausage (nem nướng) and two bottles of corn milk.

A plate of golden and crispy 'bánh xèo'. VNS Photo Việt Dũng

The bánh xèo was brought out quite quickly, and both my wife and I were surprised by how small it was. Our plate consisted of four pieces of golden and crispy rice crepe, each cut in half to fit in a palm, very different from the cakes I usually eat in HCM City, which are as big as a normal pan.

Along with the bánh xèo was some lettuce leaves, aromatic herbs, cucumbers, and pickled vegetables, and a plate of dew-soaked rice paper, a form of rice paper well-liked by foodies for its milky white colour, gummy texture and slightly salty taste, different than the usual rice paper that I tend to have.

We were told by the waiter to wrap a piece of bánh xèo with the rice paper, adding vegetable to our liking, and dip it in the shop’s special brown-looking sauce. The smaller size of the cake made it really easy to roll.

While preparing my roll, I pondered why Đà Nẵng bánh xèo – and this shop, by extension – is so beloved by many, why this place is frequently among the top eateries to visit in this city according to many online listicles.

Personally, bánh xèo is a pretty nice dish, but I have had it plenty of times before, and I have never considered it my favourite. It can’t be that good this time, right?

I immediately realised how wrong I was from the first bite.

This bánh xèo was much crispier than all of the bánh xèo I have ever eaten, while the chunky meat and shrimp fillings made it simply delightful to chew through.

What elevated the dish was the thick dipping sauce, with its rich and creamy taste of pork, peanut and other seasoning, adding a whole new irresistible flavour to our bánh xèo.

The sour tang of pickled papaya was also a welcomed addition for my wife to offset the dish’s rich taste, but as a lover of crunchy fried food myself, I had a great time just eating the bánh xèo by itself with the sauce, no vegetable needed.

While the 'bánh xèo' can be eaten by itself, the 'correct' way to enjoy it is to wrap it in rice paper and vegetables. VNS Photo Việt Dũng

​The nem nướng wrapped with rice paper and vegetable was a nice meal, but it was simply outclassed by the main star of our lunch – the bánh xèo.

Despite the shop’s crowdedness, our orders were taken and served pretty quickly, although I imagine this place must be even more crowded during peak holiday periods.

A plate of bánh xèo was VNĐ80,000 (more than US$3), and together with other items like the nem nướng and corn milk added up to around VNĐ140,000 – a very affordable and tasty lunch for us.

Đà Nẵng has plenty of delicious and interesting specialty dishes, and if you want a quick and satisfying meal, you cannot go wrong with Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng. We certainly would visit this place again when given the chance. VNS