Eating Da Lat with Chef Peter
Peter Cuong Franklin is the executive chef of Anan Saigon, a modern Vietnamese restaurant tucked inside the Cho Cu wet market. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Peter studied food anthropology and gastronomy in America, and honed his skills at restaurants such as Chicago's Alinea and Caprice in Hong Kong, before returning to Vietnam where he's on a mission to reimagine Vietnamese cuisine. Here he shares memories and favourite dishes from his hometown, Da Lat.
Credit: Vietnam Travel
One of my mom’s specialty dishes is mì Quảng. I’ve eaten my mom’s version and many other versions before, but I recently encountered a flavorsome and rich version of this dish, deep inside Da Lat’s wet market. The broth was enriched with so much pork knuckle that it resembled a thick, rich tonkotsu ramen rather than the light and sometimes watery version you find in many places. This bowl of pork knuckle broth with turmeric noodles was a revelation.
Mì Quảng Thành
Bánh bèo is one of my favorite dishes because of its simplicity and purity. The original version comes from Hue, and is a spoon-sized bite made of rice and tapioca flour, steamed in a small ceramic bowl. After steaming, the bánh bèo is scooped gently out of the steaming bowl, and served with a light fish sauce, fried shallots, fresh chili and crispy pork skin -- simply delicious! Try it as a snack in the morning or afternoon.
Bánh Bèo Bà Hường (Bánh Bèo Số 4 Bà Hường)
The Da Lat-style phở is quite different from other regions. It’s Hanoi-style phở meets the bountiful, fertile mountain climate of Da Lat with the inclusion of a plate of fresh herbs and crisp European lettuce greens introduced by the French during the colonial era. Is this fusion? If I were to include Da Lat lettuce with the phở at my restaurant Anan Saigon, most people would probably scream “fusion.” This is the way the local people eat phở everyday here in Da Lat. It’s only natural to include the beautiful lettuce greens that they have available.
1 Đường Tăng Bạt Hổ
Bánh Mì Xiu Mai
Unlike the cold cuts Saigon-style bánh mì, the Da Lat-style bánh mì xiu mai is served hot. Due to colder climate in this mountain city, the sandwich is served as a bowl of warm pork meatball broth, a warm grilled baguette, and a mixture of shredded papaya and fresh herbs. Most locals eat one but this lady knows I usually order two with extra chili because it’s so delicious and I love a little heat with my bánh mì.
Bánh Mì Xíu Mại BH
Bánh căn is a Da Lat dish that evolved from the Hue bánh bèo steamed rice cake. Due to its cooler climate, in Da Lat bánh căn is grilled over a charcoal brazier with a quail egg or duck egg on top. This is a specialty Da Lat dish that’s best enjoyed in the early morning hours as a breakfast or light snack. Bánh căn is becoming more popular in Da Lat, and you can now find it in many places in the centre of the city, especially around the Hoa Binh area.
Bánh Căn Cây Bơ
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