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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

TRYING BANH COM, A STICKY GREEN DESSERT MADE FROM RICE AND BEANS, IN HANOI, VIETNAM!


Welcome back to Hanoi, where as you can see we are having an incredible time trying vegan versions of traditional Vietnamese food! This blog is a little different though: today's dish is accidentally vegan - so wherever you see it, you can eat it!


One thing that you should know about Mike and I is that we are big dessert lovers. Back home in our kitchen in Britain we love to make plant-based brownies, chocolate cake, cookies... and for a special treat I love to whip out my signature crumble recipe (watch this space!) When we go out for dinner, on a special occasion, we always make sure to treat ourselves to an indulgent dessert - the more chocolate the better! So apart from our amazing experience eating mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai, our travels so far had been pretty hard for us two sweet-toothed Brits, and we were seeking out traditional desserts to satisfy our cravings. So when we saw market stalls selling bánh cốm we were curious to say the least...


So what actually is bánh cốm?

Bánh cốm is a green dessert made from green sticky rice and mung beans. Hidden in the centre of this perfect green, sticky square is a sweet mung bean paste. This is a special dessert, native to northern Vietnam, that is sometimes known as wedding cake, since these little green square have become synonymous with weddings and special celebrations. The cake is manufactured from special green sticky rice, which is pounded and processed: this gives it the sticky, glutinous texture on the outside. The paste on the inside is made of mung beans, marinated with sugar, coconut and grapefruit juice to give the central component of the bánh cốm a distinctive sweet taste.


The front of a restaurant with wooden signage and counter and the words 'greendot: eat green, feel good' illuminated in green and white
Quà Quê, where we found our bánh cốm!

Where did we try bánh cốm in Hanoi?

The first thing to say about bánh cốm is that you can see it in many places in Hanoi, from sweet stalls to pastry shops and more. So wherever you are when you decide to try it, you're sure to find some! We bought ours from Quà Quê, a traditional dessert shop in Hanoi's Old Quarter.


They were vended from a shop front, where the traditional pastries and desserts were displayed with clear pricing (so no haggling here!) The staff were friendly and, this being a shop front, the transaction literally took seconds, and then the legendary glutinous green square was in my hands! I finally had a bánh cốm!



Tell us all about the bánh cốm! How did it taste?

I really had no idea what to expect when I tried bánh cốm. I could see that it was green and sticky, but I had no point of reference in my mind when it came to what a dessert made from rice and mung beans would taste like.


When I unwrapped the bánh cốm I found that it wasn't quite as sticky as I expected. It felt, well, like sticky rice but larger and more square. What did surprise me, though, was how stretchy it was - it was almost like the texture and stretchiness of a jelly sweet on the outside. When I bit into the bánh cốm, it was not how I expected. The flavour was subtle, slightly sweet, and with a very mild citrus flavour. To the centre of the bánh cốm is the mung bean paste, which again had a very subtle flavour; for many people the contrast of the sweetness of the outer rice layer and the almost savoury inner bean paste would be pleasant, but for my tastes it was not sweet enough! The textures of this dessert were complex too: the glutinous outer layer has a very different feel to the paste on the inside, which is quite dry and almost a little chalky. I really wasn't the biggest fan of this dessert, but I am very pleased that I gave it a try. Though it didn't quite curb my dessert cravings, from its colour to its textures, it's certainly an iconic Vietnamese dish that I won't forget in a hurry!


How much did this bánh cốm cost - and was it worth it?

A green square of bánh cốm with the mung bean paste centre visible
You can really see the bean paste in this bánh cốm!

We paid ₫7,000 for one bánh cốm. This is approximately £0.25, €0.28 or $0.30. This was so cheap - and since we were at a traditional pastry shop in Hanoi's Old Quarter, which has a very high number of tourists, it is likely that this price was slightly inflated too. Though I wasn't a big fan of this, it is extremely popular in Vietnam, and I saw many tourists enjoying their own bánh cốm. So for such a cheap price for something that is accidentally vegan, I would definitely recommend that you give it a try!


Quà Quê is located at 1A P. Đinh Liệt, Hàng Đào, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam. It is in the Old Quarter so very convenient to visit alongside tourist attractions including the markets.


Have you tried bánh cốm in Vietnam? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
The Water Puppet Theatre is so much fun!

Where should I stay?

Hanoi has so many places to stay, but if you want to be close to the action we'd recommend staying in the Old Quarter, where you'll find loads of choice regardless of the accommodation type you prefer.


Hanoi Little Town Hotel is situated in the heart of the city, with a beautiful French Colonial style of decoration, and friendly service that gets consistently high reviews from its guests. If you'd prefer the atmosphere and vibe of a hostel, Hanoi Buffalo Hostel offer both privates and dorm rooms - with a pool, free walking tours and the occasional free beer on offer too!


Tours & Experiences

My absolute highlight of our trip to Hanoi was the Water Puppet Theatre. If you're short on time, this Viator ticket allows you to secure your ticket online, so that you don't have to queue with the masses waiting to choose their seats.

If that's not quite for you, or if you want to explore Vietnam a bit more widely, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?



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