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Banh Xeo at Viet Ville

k
Ken Hoffman Apr 20, 2005 07:16 PM

Went to this well regarded Vietnamese place in South San Jose for lunch and ordered the Banh Xeo or Crepe de Ville. This was my first experience with this dish. It consists of a a very large cripsy omelette-like crepe (more eggy than doughy) folded in half and stuffed with pork loin, prawns, bean sprouts and eaten with a lettuce wrap. It was very good...the crepe was unusually light and the filling was greaseless (the sprouts were pbarely cooked). For such a gargantuan dish, it disappears fast given how light the ingredients are.

Any experience out there with banh xeo? Any places that excel at it?

Viet Ville Restaurant
5440 Thornwood Dr Suite 1
San Jose, CA 95123
408-227-1752

Image: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/20...

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  1. m
    MargotB Apr 20, 2005 08:18 PM

    I love this place! I'm not an expert re: Vietnamese food, but Viet Ville has a light/fresh/greaseless touch, as you say. They put lots of greens/mint, etc. in their bun. Haven't found anything comparable in Berkeley or SF financial district.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MargotB
      a
      Alice Patis Apr 20, 2005 08:55 PM

      Hmm, I work near there and have gone there twice for lunch. I had pho & goi cuon once, and a rice plate w/ grilled pork chop another time. Both were ok but not memorable, except for the overly chewy rice paper on the goi cuon. I've been meaning to go back to try the beef salad they're known for, but haven't got the chance. Yours & Ken's post have convinced me to go again. I'll try to bring a couple friends so we can order a bun dish and the banh xeo as well. Stay tuned!

    2. t
      Tuck Apr 21, 2005 04:49 PM

      For reference, the yellow color comes from turmeric used for coloring only. There isn't any egg in banh xeo. The batter also consists of rice flour and either water, milk, or coconut milk. You can't find this dish at too many restaurants, so I'm glad there's at least one place that makes a good version for you.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Tuck
        k
        Ken Hoffman Apr 21, 2005 05:00 PM

        Remarkable likeness to egg! Thaks for the info. It is worth seeking out..very delicious.

        1. re: Ken Hoffman
          c
          Carb Lover Apr 21, 2005 05:15 PM

          Don't feel stupid. I'm of Viet descent and thought there was a little egg in the batter too! Tuck is right though, turmeric (sometimes curry too) gives it that golden color. Check out the linked article that gives a little background info and recipe.

          Thanks for making me aware of Viet Ville. Banh xeo is a great app!

          Link: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/books...

          1. re: Carb Lover
            m
            Melanie Wong Apr 24, 2005 04:25 AM

            Here's a link to an audio piece by sometime 'hound Thy Tran comparing banh xeo to dosas.

            Link: http://wanderingspoon.com/story-banhx...

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              c
              Carb Lover Apr 24, 2005 06:24 PM

              Thanks so much for this link! Reminds me that auditory info can be just as stimulating as visual info. I loved hearing the sizzling sound of the banh xeo batter hitting the hot pan. Very interesting about Tran's assertion that banh xeo is more related to Indian dosas than French crepes. Now I'm craving dosa...

      2. c
        Chris Willging Apr 21, 2005 05:11 PM

        If you're ever in Oakland, Binh Minh Quan on 12th Street in Chinatown makes a good one (although it's the only one I've had, so I can't compare either...)

        They definitely use plenty of coconut milk. It was delicious the one time I've had it.

        1. a
          Alice Patis Apr 21, 2005 09:07 PM

          I wanted to look up some restaurant names/addresses for you, so sorry I didn't reply earlier. I've had Banh Xeo at many places, and below are the ones I've liked best. Though sometimes it seems luck of the draw whether you get one perfectly done (non-greasy, crispy outside, hot steaming inside, right balance of veggies to meat). So take my suggestions cautiously. But generally it's not hard to mess up Banh Xeo so don't be too cautious.

          Here are the places I've liked in the past for their Banh Xeo:

          In SF, Le Soleil at 133 Clement Street has (had?) really good banh xeo, always non-greasy and fresh tasting. I loved everything there as well. It was my fave non-pho-house viet restaurant in the Avenues. I don't hear much about that place anymore and it's been 4-5 years, so I don't know if Le Soleil has gone downhill or what.

          In Millbrae, I liked Petite Camille's banh xeo (170 El Camino Real). It's been a few years since I ate there but I think someone praised it on this board recently.

          In the South Bay, there's so many places that make banh xeo, I've only tried a few. So far, I like the one in the food court of Grand Century Mall (Story Rd & McLaughlin) the best, very crispy. Maybe because I get to eat it only seconds after it's made, maybe because they're cheap so they use more veggies than meat (my preference). Though I don't like their nuoc cham (dipping sauce), too sweet and not strong enough.

          That's all that I could remember for now. I'll go to Viet Ville soon & post my thoughts afterwards.

          1. a
            Alice Patis Apr 24, 2005 12:28 PM

            Thanks to Ken’s rec, I went to Viet Ville for the banh xeo. As you can see from my photo below, it's the best crisp texture I've ever encountered on a banh xeo. It goes beyond crisp to being crunchy, even the last bite. On the inside the batter is still soft and the filling steaming hot. How's it taste? It tastes great, one of the best I've had; the only (small) minus is the filling is on the bland side. The bean sprouts, onions, lean pork, and small shrimp needed salting or something. I’d definitely come back with my friends to show them this.

            My quibbles are with the accompaniments. As you can see, you get plenty of green leaf lettuce, but the herbs could be better. I like spearmint better for this dish than the “found everywhere” peppermint, and there wasn’t enough mint (just one big stalk). I missed having cucumber to go in my wrap. And the nuoc cham is way too sweet. Ever since I moved to the South Bay, I can’t find a place that serves nuoc cham that isn’t too sweet. Is it a South Bay thing, or just me getting older and disliking sweet things?

            Service is well meaning, but quite scarce. Only 3 tables dining that lunch hour, but the server and the food-runner were hardly ever around. The server did come to ask me how’s everything, but it was right when I had just taken my first (huge) bite so I only managed a nod & mumble. After that I wished he was around to ask for extra nuoc mam and lime so I could amend my nuoc cham, but I never saw him again until I finished the whole thing. Even so, I thought service was better than most viet places of this price range, so I didn’t mind. I’ll be back. And I’ll definitely try the beef salad on the next try.

            Image: http://img168.echo.cx/img168/9389/ban...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Alice Patis
              h
              honhu05 Jul 15, 2009 06:09 PM

              the taste of banh xeo itself is kind of plain. The real taste comes mostly from the dipping sauce. Cucumber is not a traditional vegetable for banh xeo.
              On the other hand, i do agree w/ you that all dipping sauces tend to be on the sweet side. Since dipping sauce is a very important component of many vietnamese dishes, this could easily spoil the meal.

              1. re: honhu05
                wolfe Jul 15, 2009 06:45 PM

                Welcome to this board. Interesting comment. Your view might be better served if it was on a current bahn xeo thread. This one is 4 years old.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/550045

                1. re: wolfe
                  m
                  MargotB Jul 16, 2009 04:18 PM

                  Going back to the earlier posts, anyone know if Viet Ville relocated? Viet Ville at the original location has been closed for about 2 years I believe.

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