Eat This Now: Bánh Bèo at Huong Giang

There won’t be anyone who speaks even a lick of English at Huong Giang. Placing an order will involve pointing at it on the menu and then holding up fingers to communicate how many of it you want. But whatever you end up getting, whether you intended to order it or not, it will be great, especially if it’s from their first page of house specialties.

You do, however, need to make sure one of them is the bánh bèo. These are the freshly steamed, bite-sized cakes made from rice flour that you only find in restaurants that specialize in Hue cuisine. They arrive arranged on a plate as though petals on a blooming flower. Before eating one, you drip some of the golden fish sauce served on the side in a bowl. In your mouth, the delicate, pudding-like texture of the cake melts while sprinkled toppings of pulverized shrimp, fried onions, and pork rinds add flavor and crunch.

It’s a wondrous experience that’s worth breaking through the language barrier. But if all else fails, just bring in this article or show the photo above on your phone. A food picture is worth a thousand hand gestures.

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