Among other members of the extended noodle family, Banh cuon 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. A plate of bánh cuốn is a light dish traditionally eaten as breakfast in Hanoi but now can also be found as a late night snack.
Where to find it?
A short walk north of Hàng Da Market and Hàng Điếu street will bring you to Bánh Cuốn Thanh Vân, just look for the bánh cuốn station—two large covered steaming pots—out front along the sidewalk. Just take a look! The practiced hands keep the bánh cuốn 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, the pancake in the first steamer is ready and waiting. With only 6 tables nestled inside the small open storefront, the pace never slows. Serving 7AM-1PM and 5PM-11PM.
The restaurant Quán Ăn Ngon, No.18 Phan Bội Châu Street, also does a very respectable version of bánh cuốn.