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Binh Duong, a Surprising Oasis of Taiwanese Snacks and Chinese Dumplings

This is part 2 of our two-part series on Taiwanese and Chinese food in Binh Duong. Read part one here.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about two restaurants in Binh Duong — one Chinese, one Taiwanese — that are well worth a vist. Those are far from the only worthy eateries in the area though, and this article will focus on four snack-able options in Thuan An City in Bình Duong, 25 kilometers north of Saigon.

The fried stuff

The road naming conventions around here odd, but on what appears to be Street D20 is an open-front spot selling fried delicacies such as dumplings and scallion pancakes wrapped around an omelet, as well as seafood congee and a number of herbal teas. Prices are cheap in the VND15,000–30,000 range, and food is as delicious as you'd expect fried dough to be.

The women who run the place weren't working at full capacity when we showed up in the middle of the afternoon, so this would be best in the morning or during the lunch hour.

And, once you've stuffed yourself with fried treats, the spacious Yarn Coffee across the street is a great spot to digest a bit. Owned by a Chinese textile manufacturer, this comfortable business somehow manages to sell coffee, bubble tea, furniture, and high-end cycling and golf equipment.

The guts

On nearby Street D33, one can find another example of strange business combinations. Here, Trà Sữa T&T (located next to C13 Street D33), a fruit juice/bubble tea shop, doubles as a phá lấu outlet with a Taiwanese twist. Next to the entrance, a display case presents customers with a variety of protein options, from delicious braised tofu and pork to intestines and other organs for more adventurous eaters.

Once you've made a selection, the staff slices it up, mixes it with a heaping handful of spices, herbs and Taiwanese seasoning, and presents the result in a cardboard container. These dishes have a nice spicy kick to them, especially if you add in the chili sauce served on the side.

If you're there after 3pm, you'll notice a cart on the pavement next door with TAIWANBURGER emblazoned across the top. Somewhat confusingly, they don't serve burgers: instead, Bánh Nướng Gấu Đài Loan offers small cakes cooked in circular molds and filled with sweet and savory options, including Oreo, coconut, chocolate, and egg with cheese.

These are popular after-school snacks in Taiwan, and here they cost just VND10,000–15,000. I would personally recommend the custard or red bean varieties, but the world is your oyster, as they say. The small cakes are a perfect snack in between courses, as they aren't particularly filling, but they will satisfy your sweet tooth.

The dumplings

The final stop on our food tour is Bánh Bao Nhất Phẩm Phong, around the corner from Yarn Coffee. The humble restaurant is run by Liu, a Chinese woman who moved to Binh Duong from Yangzhou, northwest of Shanghai, with her family two years ago. They ran a restaurant in China, and continued the tradition in Vietnam.

We were already very full from the day's eating, but the menu (which is only in Chinese and Vietnamese) was too tempting to ignore. In addition to several kinds of traditional dumplings — all made in-house — a line of freezers contains frozen dumplings, scallion pancakes and other goodies that customers can purchase to enjoy at home later.

An order of xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and another order of bao quickly arrived, and it was immediately apparent that Liu knows what she is doing. Xiaolongbao is a tricky dish — not that I could even attempt to make it — but there is fine line between them being too soupy, or not soupy enough: you don't want one completely exploding in your mouth, or burst before it even makes it that far, but you also don't want it to be dried out.

These were just right: tough enough to survive the journey from basket to mouth, yet tender enough to melta apart on the first bite.

Street D33, which is home to most of the locations in this article, also features several convenience stores and shops that sell instant noodles, sauces, tea, beer and other goods imported from Taiwan and not easily found in Saigon. It's dangerously easy to come away with bags full of food and drink from the island nation — a real treat for people like me who are huge fans of the place.

Chinese and Taiwanese snacks

Thuan An City

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