Banh cuon, $7.95, from Vietnam Cuisine
The literal translation of “banh cuon” is “rolled cakes,” but a more apt translation would be “holy cow, I need more of these, immediately, forever, wow.”
Actually, that translation may only apply at Vietnam Cuisine, the tiny and easy-to-miss restaurant slotted into Colonial Drive next to a nail supply store and across the street from Viet Garden. Effort should be made to seek it out, though; in addition to the heavenly plates of banh cuon the restaurant turns out, their cha ca thang long (turmeric-spiced fish served with fresh dill) and bun bo Hue (sort of a spicy pho) come highly recommended by my Vietnamese friends – one even says when she comes to Orlando from New York to visit her parents, she never fails to eat at least once at Vietnam Cuisine.
But back to that banh cuon. It’s a simple dish of rice-flour crepes wrapped around a filling of ground pork and wood ear mushrooms. As served at Vietnam Cuisine, the plate is garnished with a heap of bean sprouts and a few slices of Vietnamese pork bologna, but they’re of trifling import. The crepes, made freshly in-house, are the thing: silky-smooth, stretchy-elastic (but never gummy), enclosing a perfectly savory mix of crisply fried pork and fungi. Once you get the hang of picking up the open-ended rolls with your chopsticks (it’s a kind of pursing gesture, like sealing a dumpling), you won’t want to find those chopsticks empty any time soon.
In Vietnam, this dish is eaten at breakfast (yes, please) or as a late-night snack (yes, please). In Orlando, you’ll have to keep it between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., but luckily Vietnam Cuisine is open every day of the week.
Vietnam Cuisine, 1224 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-7053; ttranvista.wix.com/vietnamcuisineorlando