While there are many amazing things to eat in Vietnam, there’s no doubt banh xeo is a favorite snack for many.
There’s hardly anything to dislike about a crispy golden crepe, stuffed with assorted veggies, shrimp, and meat, all wrapped into a hand-roll of herbs and leaves, and dipped into sweet chili fish sauce.
From what I understand, banh xeo is prepared a little different throughout Vietnam, and the south, specifically Saigon, is known for its large sized banh xeo.
Although there are many places to sample banh xeo in Saigon, the most well known, perhaps legendary restaurant, is Banh Xeo 46A (in Vietnamese: Quán Bánh Xèo 46A).
One day, during my visit to Vietnam, I met up with Kyle for a day of cruising around and eating. After meeting up in the early afternoon, our first stop was Banh Xeo 46A.
Banh Xeo 46A
If you do a quick search online for banh xeo in Saigon, probably your first few results will be about Banh Xeo 46A.
The restaurant has been featured on numerous travel shows including Anthony Bourdain, and is recommended by just about all guidebooks you’ll come across regarding Vietnam and Saigon.
It’s located not far from Le Van Tam Park, and once you see the bright pink Tan Dinh Church, you know you’re not far from the restaurant.
As a quick note, as I’ve already mentioned, Banh Xeo 46A has received its share of attention, and some have suggested that it’s too expensive and not nearly as good as it was previously. Since I never ate here in the past, I guess I don’t have anything to judge it by, other than this one occasion.
Due to the level of fame Banh Xeo 46A has received over the years, both their menu and their prices reflect that. The menu is written in Vietnamese, English, and even Japanese.
If you take a looks at the menu, there are actually all sorts of things available, but most people really just go straight for the banh xeo, as we did as well.
While waiting for our banh xeo to finish cooking, we refreshed ourselves with a glass of a Vietnamese drink called chanh muối, salty preserved limeade.
It was a little too sweet for me overall, but I did like the contrast of the sweet and salty and sour, and the saltiness really brought out the flavor of the lime.
Cooking banh xeo
One of the cool things about Banh Xeo 46A is that they still use charcoal for cooking, which definitely provides the crepes with a more smoky flavor.
For a more accurate description of how it was made, be sure to watch the video below, but basically she first tossed in a handful of shrimp, onions, and sliced pork to a skillet, and then proceeded to ladle in a scoop of pancake batter and swirl it around to cover the ingredients.
Then in went a handful of yellow mung beans and bean sprouts before the entire giant crepe was folded over into a taco shape, and delivered to us on a plate.
Watch the full video below:
(If you can’t see the video, watch it here)
Since I had already eaten lunch, and since we had much more food to eat during the day, we ordered the large special banh xeo to share between three of us.
The good thing about eating banh xeo is that you can just order one to share, and it’s a nice communal snack to enjoy with friends.
Price – 110,000 VND ($5.07)
But along with the crepe, without the side vegetables and herbs, banh xeo wouldn’t even be half compete. At least for me, it’s the stack of raw leafy vegetables and herbs that really makes banh xeo worth eating.
On every table, just like at many other Vietnamese restaurants, there was a plate of green leaves including basil, sawtooth coriander, lettuce, mustard greens, and one of my favorites, shiso leaves.
Eating banh xeo
The first step to eating banh xeo is to take some leaves of choice, but usually the bigger leaves like lettuce or mustard green are good to begin with as they form a nice roll foundation.
Place the big leaves in the palm of your hand, and you can then garnish with basil or some layers of shiso if you please.
Then you move onto the crepe, and just sort of wriggle your chopsticks until you break off a respectable bite sized piece, which should hopefully include a shrimp, a piece of pork, and lots of crispy edges.
Place that bite of crepe into the middle of your green wrapper, and the the next step I would recommend would be to add some chilies, which are also available at your table.
From here, you now have three choices, you can either a) wrap up like a spring roll and dip into the sauce, b) wrap up like a roll and spoon on sauce to each bite on the top of your roll, or c) scoop in some sauce and then roll.
I tried them all, and overall, my preferred version is to wrap, then spoon on sauce with each bite using a spoon.
Banh Xeo 46A is probably the most well known restaurant in Saigon to eat the Vietnamese dish called banh xeo, a crispy savory crepe.
The restaurant has received massive exposure, and it has been covered on many travel programs and guide books, and therefore the prices are quite high. But that being said, it remains a decent place to try banh xeo when you’re in Saigon.
For myself, while I did enjoy Vietnamese banh xeo, I actually preferred the little mini pancakes, eaten in a similar fashion, called banh khot.
Quán Bánh Xèo 46A
Address: 46 Đinh Công Tráng, Tân Định, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Open hours: 9 am – 9 pm daily, for myself, I think banh xeo works best as a snack rather than a full meal
Prices: We ordered the biggest size for 110,000 VND ($5.07)
How to get there: Banh Xeo 46A is located just a short distance from Le Van Tam park. You can get there by foot, or by bus and foot, or probably the easiest way is just by taking a taxi directly there.
For this Saigon food map, scroll down and click on “Banh Xeo 46A,” then zoom in, to see the exact location of the restaurant on the map.