While these cakes bear the same name as those served in Hue, Hai Phong’s bèo cakes are very different in terms of flavors and ingredients. These tasty snacks are made of rice flour stuffed with minced pork, jelly ear mushrooms (mộc nhĩ), shallots and spices. Banana leaves are washed and dipped in boiling water until soft, then folded into square molds to hold the rice flour mixture. The cakes are steamed for 30 minutes. A key feature of Hai Phong bèo cakes is the dipping sauce, made of steamed bone stock that contributes to its sweetness. Fish sauce, sugar, deep fried garlic and herbs are added. Hai Phong bèo cakes are served hot to retain the tastes of the chewy rice flour, the meaty stuffing and the sweet dipping sauce.
Mantis shrimp rice vermicelli
As a harbor city, Hai Phong offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Mantis shrimp rice vermicelli is a breakfast dish that awakens all five senses. The rice vermicelli is soaked in a sweet broth of steamed bones and the Mantis shrimp are served with mustard greens and spring onions. Those who dislike rice vermicelli can replace them with thicker and saltier rice noodles.
In this street food heaven, seafood is served in a range of exciting dishes. Stopping by a seafood vendor, guests will find a vast selection of freshly caught seafood, from snails, razor shells and winkles to Mantis shrimp, clams, scallops and cu ky (rock crabs). Clams, oysters and scallops are charcoal-grilled until mildly scorched and served with mouthwatering fried onions. Salty winkles are stir-fried with butter and salted eggs and a sprinkle of spicy chili, then served with bread dipped in sauce. Meanwhile, rock crabs are sautéed in a mouth-watering sour tamarind sauce that complements the naturally sweet crab meat.