In Nha Trang recently, after an early morning hour of 'hit and giggle' tennis, our team of mixed ability hacks hit this banh dap snack shack for some championship eating. A few forehand drives and approaches to the net for a volley do wonders in activating the appetite. Racquet-wielding and ravenous, the five of us practically commandeered the joint and started ordering up big.
"Just keep them coming until we say stop", I believe, was the call!
The dish in this 'ma and pa' eatery, in amongst the sleepy inner-district streets of this big seaside town, is a pancake arrangement called banh dap. Dap means slap in English and these numbers were being slapped on tables at a furious pace the morning we dropped in. A close relative of banh cuon, these rice batter membranes are steamed on a cloth plate over a pot of boiling water, peeled off and flung on a plate. Showered with shrimp dust (tom kho) and sweated, chopped spring onions, they are ready for despatch.
Problem is, the skins keep getting skirted around our table, sometimes directly under our snouts, to other bloody customers! It seemed that the system here was 'shout loud, get served' and my team was up for it and, we had tennis racquets for back up! Suddenly, the plates started stacking up...literally. No clearing dirty dishes here, as the method for calculating the bill is to count the plates.
But we weren't done yet. My companions were astounding me with their vigilance, at getting what seemed like an unfair share of the cakes being churned out to our table. I am no longer agape, however, at the Vietnamese' capacity to put nosh away. If there were Wimbledons for eating, for enjoying food, for gourmandising or whatever - as a nation, the Vietnamese would be holding up the golden plate. They can eat!
Banh dap is a winner, too. Served with a fermented shrimp sauce called mam nem (a browner, less pongy version of mam tom) loaded up with more of the green onion tops, these rice crepes are great as they are, even better slapped between two halves of a crunchy rice cracker.
15 plates of the crepe, 15 plates of crackered crepe, iced tea all round - 38,000VND (USD$2.40, AUD$3.20) - a dirt-cheap fourth entry in Extreme Cheap Street Eats.