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Hẻm Gems: Eggs? On My Bánh Cuốn? It's More Likely Than You Think.

The simplicity of an egg is an underrated beauty that we often take for granted.

An orb of orange translucent salmon roe on your tongue, yogurt pearls in a bubble tea, or even luscious pulps of a finger lime — humans have a penchant for food that pops. When that delicate membrane gives, a rush of flavor fills our palate, letting a new burst of taste intermingle with the base notes of the dish, be it sweet jasmine milk tea or savory chawanmushi. While I am particularly fond of bubble tea pearls, I have to admit that none of the aforementioned pops with as much delicious theatricality as egg yolks do.

The tiny but cozy dining area of Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth.

From egg yolk ravioli in the west to dolsot bibimbap in the east, that special moment when our cutlery touches its skin lightly and it oozes out a golden stream of rich yolk is a treasured occasion for many eaters. Not only do egg yolks add a dramatic flair to our meals, they also coat whatever they touch in the dish with a layer of buttery dressing that, when paired properly, perfectly balances out the sharp angles of other flavors.

More "auth" than your Adidas pairs, probably.

This culinary showpiece wasn’t something I expected when I accompanied Saigoneer’s ragtag team of food tasters to District 7 on a Sunday morning for this week’s Hẻm Gem. Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth came highly recommended by our photographer; it’s just a brisk walk from his home and he swears by its distinctiveness. Dịu and her husband Hải run the eatery out of a small room in front of their house in the middle of a busy morning market.

From the moment I saw the eatery’s sign, I knew I would get along with the owners — they named it “auth” (shopping slang for “authentic”) as if they’re not dishing out freshly made bánh cuốn but Adidas limited editions smuggled in from abroad in someone’s luggage. It’s not your typical Saigon restaurant naming convention, but I respect the hustle culture.

Dịu, the cook, runs the eatery with her husband, Hải.

Bánh cuốn in general has never blown me away. In my mind, I file these soft white meat blankets under the “will-eat-if-given” category, one reserved for dishes that I will happily eat if they’re in front of me, but never crave. Made from a rice batter, bánh cuốn rolls usually lack any distinct flavor and merely exist as a vessel for one to slurp up fish sauce with every dipping, so if the nước mắm is tasty and the batter isn’t sour, you’re already halfway there. The other half lies in their execution so that the texture is as smooth and thin as satin without breaking.

From top to bottom, clockwise: bánh cuốn trứng lòng đào, bánh cuốn thịt, bánh cuốn trứng chín.

I am delighted to announce that Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth accomplished both these cornerstone tasks with flying colors, and even surprised us. You’re probably wondering now: what makes a plate of bánh cuốn Hải Phòng-style? Or even better, Hải Phòng Auth-style? Well, order a plate of bánh cuốn trứng lòng đào here, and you’ll find out.

There are two ways eggs can be incorporated into rolls in Hải Phòng; either spread out on the rice sheet and cooked thoroughly by the steam, or wrapped in bánh cuốn like a dumpling. Instead of packing everything into a roll, Dịu folds the sheet neatly into a square envelope.

How to make a roll of bánh cuốn in four steps.

If you watch Dịu's every move as she nimbly spreads, cracks, sprinkles, folds, and decorates the food for your eating pleasure, you might know exactly what to expect when that thin bánh cuốn layer is lightly poked. I didn’t, so when faced with the egg yolk — still soft and golden yellow — I was entranced. It would be a disservice to discuss just the egg without mentioning Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth’s winning dipping sauce, the other pillar that cements bánh cuốn Hải Phòng’s reign as Vietnam’s best bánh cuốn.

Bánh cuốn thịt.

Bánh cuốn trứng lòng đào.

Served in a small bowl with a minuscule meatball, this nước chấm instantly evokes good memories of Đà Lạt’s bánh mì xíu mại, though its flavor profile is so much deeper into the umami realm than any normal sauce.

A flavorful bowl of dipping sauce made from bone broth.

It’s caramel-brown, sparkling, and sings of braised pork. According to the owner, they make their sauce from bone broth, and suggested that we add a dash of tắc juice and some pickled garlic. Hải also offered to reheat our bowls of nước chấm after a stretch on the table while we were busy snapping photos.

There’s much to be said about bánh cuốn Hải Phòng, which has officially become my favorite rendition of bánh cuốn in the entire country, but this is something to be experienced in person, not through words. Adidas “auth” might be hit-or-miss, but fresh egg yolk bánh cuốn and bone broth dipping is the real deal.

Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth is open from 6:15am–12pm and 4pm–7pm every day except Sunday afternoon.

To sum up:

Taste: 5/5
Price: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Friendliness: 5/5
Location: 3.5/5 — Parking is limited, so eat fast!

Khôi loves curry, is a raging millennial and will write for food.

Bánh Cuốn Hải Phòng Auth

130 Đường 17, Tân Kiểng Ward, D7, HCMC

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