• Da Nang's special pork rolls

Nobody knows exactly who invented banh cuon, or when, but most everyone agrees that Vietnamese people have been eating banh cuon for more than 2000 years. Around 300 BC, ancestors of today’s Vietnamese migrated to Thanh Tri Ward, today known as Hanoi Capital. There, they began cultivating rice, steaming rice paper, and rolling them up into seasonal delicacies. These rice paper rolls evolved over centuries to become the banh cuon we know today.

In the center of Vietnam, Da Nang has refined the classic banh cuon into a local delicacy known as banh trang cuon thit heo, or rice paper pork rolls. This gourmet dish was once known only by Quang Nam and Da Nang residents, but its popularity has spread throughout the country and now has a universal reputation.

These days, foodies and savvy gormandizers passing through Da Nang make a special effort to find “banh trang cuon thit heo”. The dish is one of Da Nang’s unmissable culinary specialties, right on top of the list alongside Mi Quang.

What is Banh trang cuon thit heo?

The name of the dish contains its ingredients as well as its instructions. Banh trang is the rice paper, thit heo is the pork belly meat, and cuon is the roll it all goes in.

The pork in banh trang cuon thit heo is selected for its balance between meat and fat. It is lightly seasoned and then boiled until tender, cut into sliver-thin slices, plated, and presented alongside the vegetables. Unlike the pork, the vegetables in banh trang cuon thit heo are eaten raw. The assortment of fresh vegetables can vary, but usually includes some combination of lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, perilla, thai basil, banana blossoms, mint, and coriander. Finally, a plate of rice flour noodles is served alongside the pork and the vegetables. The very last addition to the dish is the dipping sauce, itself a local treasure.

banh trang cuon thit heo nha trang

Mam Nem Dipping Sauce

A Quang Nam delicacy, mam nem is a fermented fish sauce used as a dipping sauce when nuoc mam just won’t do. A plate of banh trang cuon thit heo is exactly one of those occasions. Made of fermented anchovies, sugar, Thai chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, sugar, and crushed pineapples, mam nem is an irreplaceable companion to banh trang cuon thit heo. While ordinary nuoc mam is strained into a dark and salty liquid, mam nem uses whole fermented anchovies and is more like a paste than a liquid. If you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine, the salty, funky, fishy flavor of mắm nêm will be an adventure - the taste is like nothing else in this world!

banh trang cuon thit heo

How to Eat Banh Trang Cuon Thit Heo

First, spread a piece of rice paper out flat. You can use a plate for simplicity’s sake, but with a bit more practice and patience, it can be easier to gently cup rice paper in the palm of your hand to creating a kind of bowl or taco shape. Before adding any meat or vegetables, peel a layer of rice flour noodles (a bit like uncut strips of pho) and place it on top of the rice paper. The two layers should stick together. Top the banh trang and the rice flour with thit heo and an assortment of vegetables and herbs (rau an song) and roll it up! Dip one end of your roll into the mắm nêm and enjoy as the myriad flavors and textures combine into one balanced symphony of a snack.

banh trang cuon thit heo

Where to Eat Banh Trang cuon thit heo in Da Nang

Try out the banh trang cuon thit heo at any one of these local restaurants. Once you’re hooked, you can go through the list and try them all, comparing different flavor variations.

Quan Ba Mua and Quan Dai Loc are the two most popular restaurants serving this specialty dish in Da Nang. Ba Mua is nestled right in Hai Chau, the beating heart of Da Nang City, while Đai Loc is situated just a few minutes away in Thanh Khe. Dac San Tran is a convenient alternative to either option, with four locations scattered throughout Hai Chau and Thanh Khe.

banh trang cuon thit heo

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