Among other members of the extended noodle family, rolled rice pancake almost ranks first. It is a paper-thin steamed rice flour pancake, much like delicate sheets of fresh rice noodles. The pancakes are plucked off of the linen steamer base, and immediately rolled with minced pork and mushrooms, then piled on a plate, sprinkled with deep fried shallots, snipped with scissors into bite sized sections, and topped with fresh herbs such as cilantro or Vietnamese basil.
To eat, dip a section of rolled noodle goodness into the accompanying warm fish sauce broth, brightened with a squeeze of fresh lime. You can also pick the leaves off the herbs and add them to the dipping sauce, grabbing a leaf or two as you dip, or you can follow each bite with a chaser of herbs. Rolled rice pancake are often eaten with different sides of pork sausages, including sheets of an orange-hued, roasted cinnamon sausage called “cha que”.
Where to find it?
A short walk north of Hang Da Market and Hang Đieu street in Hanoi will bring you to rolled rice pancake Thanh Van, just look for the rolled rice pancake station—two large covered steaming pots—out front along the sidewalk. Just take a look! The practiced hands keep the banh cuon rolling out with experiences, alternating seamlessly between spreading the thin batter on the linen base of one steamer, then at right time, turning to the other to peel the delicately steamed pancake off the linen base with a bamboo stick.
By the time the batter is spread on its newly emptied linen base. No. 14 Hang Ga street, between Hang Ma and Hang Vai (the Hang Vai corner is lined with bamboo ladders and poles). It is located on the west side of the street, not far from where the street name changes from Hang Cot to Hang Ga. The restaurant Quan An Ngon, No.18 Phan Boi Chau Street, also does a very respectable version of rolled rice pancake.