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Move over banana pancakes

March 23, 2011

Ahhh, delicious, cooked-on-the-side-of-the-road, Saigon goodness – fried bananas…

Walking down the street recently, I came upon this cart. Passing without buying was not an option. They use the small local bananas, about the size of a man’s thumb. Placing a banana between sheets of wax paper, the lady uses a spatula and smooshes it flat. Next, the girl batters and deep-fries them. The man is smoking and transferring the cooked ones into a bowl to cool.

The Vietnamese people are always pleased when we openly enjoy something they have to offer. These ladies were no exception.





A minute and twenty-five cents later, I have a hot, crispy, mostly hollow, puff of dough with a sliver of warm banana inside. The ones we had in Phu Quoc aren’t as puffy for some reason, but they are just as tasty. The slightly sweetened batter is the perfect complement to the natural sweetness of the banana. The whole thing is wrapped in a piece of paper and tied in a plastic bag – a mere formality since my mouth is burning from the first bite before I’ve even stepped away from the cart.



After making this delightful discovery and raving about it to my neighbors, I was informed that there is a lady selling fried bananas less than a hundred meters from my apartment. She’s probably been there the whole time I’ve lived here, and I had no idea. I have a lot of lost fried banana time to make up for.

Do you live in a place with good street food – or any street food? If so, what is your favorite? If not, what would your dream street food be?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 11:04

    I wonder what kind of flour they use in their batter. It looks really light!

    • March 23, 2011 20:48

      It’s rice flour.
      This used to be my fav snack too. But I like the grilled banana more. It’s a whole banana wrapped with sticky rice and shredded coconut grilled on top a charcoal burner, then served with a sauce made from coconut milk and tapioca.

      • March 24, 2011 00:54

        Those sound amazing. I will have to keep an eye out for that. I have seen roasted bananas, but didn’t notice whether they were wrapped in anything. Where did you eat this?

      • March 31, 2011 04:06

        Oh, my God, you ladies are killing me. I’m about to run to my pantry and raid for sweets!

        These grilled bananas sound like heaven.

        So Grace, my friends from Vietnam say that it’s not the safest place in the world to live (street thieves, etc.). What say you?

      • March 31, 2011 10:47

        It’s almost 10pm and now I’m wondering if the banana lady is still awake…

        I don’t feel like I’m in danger here, but there seems to be an increase in petty theft lately (iphones are a favorite.) As far as violence though, I think it’s safe. There are a lot of single, female travelers here. Then again, I may just feel safe since I’m bigger than 90% of the population…

  2. Ryan permalink
    March 23, 2011 23:56

    I am with you on this one! I thought I was the only banana lover here. I definitely sniffed out that lady selling them by the Pearl weeks ago. Sorry I didn’t tell you.

    • March 24, 2011 00:51

      I can’t believe you were holding out on me 😉 I’m not necessarily a banana lover – I can’t eat them once they get too ripe, but how could anyone not love those fried bananas??

  3. March 24, 2011 10:53

    We had a campaign in Vancouver a few months ago to increase the variety of street food available – after all, we are a multi-cultural melting pot etc etc, and all ou could buy from the street carts were hot dogs. Anyway, as a result of this push there are now 17 different food wagons around downtown. My wife makes a beeline for the Dim Sum cart whenever she gets the chance, but I prefer the pulled pork sandwich van. I even took my writing partners there when they came to visit. As far as I know, though, Vancouver is a fried banana free zone. Maybe I should go into business?

    • March 28, 2011 13:20

      My husband and I had a long discussion about how exactly you would campaign for more street food. I’m so curious. Was it a matter of the city making it difficult for street food vendors? Just thinking about a pulled pork sandwich makes my mouth water. As a southerner, I’m kind of surprised that is there. I guess we don’t have a monopoly on it though, do we? I can get the lady here to send you instructions and a recipe if you’re interested 😉

      • March 31, 2011 20:50

        Just FYI, certain city’s health departments do make it more difficult for street vendors, carts or food trucks by the regulations they have in place for food service. I’ve heard that Atlanta is one of the more difficult big cities to have a taco truck in, for example.

  4. March 24, 2011 21:01

    Grilled nana is a common street snack, so just keep your eyes peeled for it when you’re walking around over there.

  5. Charity permalink
    March 30, 2011 13:05

    Even though I’m not a banana lover… this is definitely something I’ll have to try. 🙂

  6. Maggie Eickhoff permalink
    August 5, 2011 13:11

    I can’t believe I missed these when I was there! I’ll eat ANYthing with a banana in it.


  1. Better lay off the sauce… « Sweet dreams and flying machines

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