Street food is a signature of Vietnamese cuisine and lifestyle. It is always something interesting to travelers who have never tried it. The taste and the open air of the space make food on the streets more than just food. The scene of vendors with their street food stalls is common on sidewalks in Saigon, and many Vietnamese snacks become more popular thanks to such crowded eateries. If we have to make a list of the most simple but especially luscious snacks, grilled banana must be on the top.
Vietnamese grilled banana originated from Ben Tre, which abounds with bananas and coconuts, then the snacks gradually came to other neighboring provinces and Saigon like a pleasant wind. It is now very popular with locals, especially the youth, and highly recommended to foreigners. Use its Vietnamese name “chuoi boc nep nuong” when you buy it from local vendors selling this smoky and flavorful street food. In just a few minutes, you will get to taste such delicious food with creamy coconut milk, sweet bananas, and savory sticky rice.
It is not challenging at all if you want to make the snacks yourself. The ingredients include sticky rice, banana, banana leaves, sugar, salt, and coconut milk with peanuts as an option.
Read more on Must-try Sticky Rice in Ho Chi Minh City.
You can cook the sticky rice in advance and let it cool down; season it with sugar and coconut milk to make it taste even better. All you need to do with the bananas is to peel them and flatten them using a clean plastic bags to shape the snack better. Then put some sticky rice on the bag, wrap it around the banana and replace the plastic bag with banana leaves. What you can do afterward is to grill the wrapped bananas directly on a charcoal stove or in an oven until it is cooked and you see an attractive golden or brown color outside.
The wrapped bananas are grilled at 378 Vo Van Tan
To serve the snack, you can take it out of the banana leaves and cut it into pieces on a plate. Grilled banana would be more luscious when being eaten with coconut milk which can be cooked with flour, sugar, salt, and small tapioca pearls if you want to add extra texture. As you can see from the whole process, all the ingredients are simple but essential in contributing to a great combination. The delicate flavor of cooked sticky rice, the appealing savor of coconut, banana leaves, and the ripe banana make up a delectable snack.
The grilled banana made by you and the vendors can be different in flavor as people don’t have the same techniques or recipes. The vendors own secrets to making their snacks unique, especially in the seasoning. The following vendors in Saigon are quite famous for their "chuoi boc nep nuong", so if you are about to try them out, check out these recommended places:
Address: At the beginning of the alley at 378 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7 AM - 9 PM
Price: VND 15,000 - VND 22,000
The stall is not spacious, so you have to sit on small chairs or stand if you want to taste at the spot. Or else, you can buy the takeaway but eating at the store is better to keep the snack hot. The store is rather crowded, but you don’t have to wait for so long for sure. As for the snack, the coconut milk makes it appetizing but is not so sweet. The best part of the dish must be the crispy grilled outer coating and flavorful hot bananas inside. The dish as a whole is not fat at all because of the salt added to the milk and the rice in the cooking. And holding a plate of grilled bananas and eating while observing the flows of traffic is something you can do to feel like a Saigonese.
A plate of grilled bananas at 378 Vo Van Tan
Address: 115 Phan Dang Luu, Ward 7, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 9 AM - 10 PM
Price: VND 13,000 - VND 20,000
Ut Lua, the owner of the famous grilled banana store, brought the traditional Vietnamese snack to the world when her grilled banana made the top 20 of most popular street foods in the 2013 World Street Food Congress. And now the same beauty in every grilled banana plate she serves is still well kept. Every food lover would find her store worth visiting. Decorated based on the theme of Mekong Delta with small traditional fishing baskets and the Southern Vietnamese backgrounds, the store gives you a cozy and countryside atmosphere.
The Southern Vietnamese backgrounds
The wrapped bananas are grilled at Ut Lua
And to describe the snack, it must be something out of the world that you can not miss out on tasting. The delicious outing coat mixed with salt has such a unique taste, and the grilled banana is really naturally sweet. Moreover, the coconut milk must be something people have to marvel at for its pleasant smell and appetizing look. Specifically, the milk is mixed with vanilla, small tapioca pearls, and salt which makes the snack less fat and more flavorful as well. That the price is reasonable for your travel budget and the size of one portion is just the right amount makes the grilled banana a perfect option. Also, you also have more options at the stores such as steamed banana, steamed rice cake, and drinks made from aloe vera, ginseng, and daisies.
The grilled bananas with the delicious taste
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Vietnamese grilled banana is worth having a try for its simplicity and bold taste, which comes from the traditional ingredients and the special recipe. The snack reflects the spirit of Vietnamese street food as well as the delicacy of Vietnamese cuisine.