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Quang Nam on a plate in faraway Saigon

A tiny eatery in Tan Binh District is very popular because of the authenticity of its food.

It feels like a mini Quang Nam in the heart of Saigon: Phan Thi Sau’s little food shop only serves some signature dishes of the central province. Sau is from Quang Nam, and she began selling food from her province as soon as she set foot in the southern hub. “Eleven years ago I sold food in front of a school and now I’ve been here for eight years,” she said. Sau said she goes to the market early every day to buy the ingredients and opens at 8 a.m.

Every day she sells around 200 banh dap (a combination of rice paper and steamed rice pancake) and banh beo (rice cake). “I get to finish my day early in case of good sales, but otherwise I keep my shop open a little late. I always get rid of the old food when a new day comes, that will guarantee the best quality for my food.”

This place does takeout food too. But because she doesn’t have many workers, Sau has to make most of the dishes herself, and even pack the little bags of sauce.

The reason people have kept coming back here for the last 20 years is the authenticity of its Quang Nam food. The banh beo (rice cake) looks appetizing, has a smooth texture and combines the natural flavors of the shrimp and meat.

The ingredients for the banh trang (rice paper cake) and banh uot (steamed rice pancake) are bought from Quang Nam people living in Saigon. Sau said the sauce is crucial to her dishes and she has to get it from Quang Nam since nowhere else is it as good.

“I usually drop in this shop when I’m craving banh beo,” Phong of District 7 said. “Though the sauce is a little salty for me I just cannot resist the filling.”

From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m every day the place only does takeout food. The eatery, which does not have a name, is located on Ca Van Thinh Street near Ba Hoa Market in Saigon’s Tan Binh District. Five pieces of banh beo cost VND15,000 ($0.6) and a banh dap costs VND9,000 ($0.4).