Sandwiched between a Chinese herbal shop and Asian bakery is Thu Hien Deli, a Vietnamese bakery and delicatessen — purveyors of a rainbow assortment of unnaturally fluorescent treats, baked goods, and homemade traditional Vietnamese dishes for takeout.
We came for their specialty: the Banh Cuon, a crepe-like roll made from a thin, wide sheet of rice flour stuffed with ground pork and minced wood ear mushroom. A short, portly lady with a grim look on her face asked us for our order. We asked for the Vietnamese Crepes. Without so much as raising her head to look up, she remarked in a disinterested tone, “Cheong Fan?” — to which we nodded. Uh, sure. I guess so. Rice rolls it is. We looked at each other and shrugged .
(Clockwise: 1. Banh Cuon aka Vietnamese Rice Crepes aka Rice Rolls? 2. Nothing says upscale like fried garlic chips wrapped in wax paper and rubber bands and fish sauce in a plastic bag. 3. Unidentified colourful treats.)
She reached into the back room and picked up a box from a stack of styrofoam boxes and dropped it into a plastic bag. Methodically, she dropped in a crumpled ball of wax paper wrapped haphazardly with a rubber band and tossed in a see-through plastic bag of curiously golden liquid before handing us the bag over the counter. I was surprised by the weight of the bag when she handed it over, it was surprisingly heavy — it felt like 5 pounds.
When we got home, we unpacked our meal: the wax paper contained chips of fried garlic and the plastic bag contained Nuoc Mam, aka fish sauce — the distinct, pungent aroma was unmistakable. We opened up the styrofoam box to reveal fresh looking, homemade rice rolls. The crepe skin was super thin to the point of transparency, revealing the heavenly mixture of pork and mushroom.
This takeout meal that served 2 people with leftovers for the next day was a mere $6. Okay, if you’re really hungry, one person could probably eat this alone in one sitting — but I wouldn’t recommend trying.
Perfect for: The cheapest takeout meal. Ever.
1388 Kingsway, Vancouver