Introducing Noodles in Soup, the Banh Canh style

By Christina Kim - October 18, 2015

One of my first encounter with the Vietnamese food is this bowl of soup with noodles; which is not pho.


Surprise, surprise, that here I am, in the land of Pho, and yet Pho is not the first thing that goes through my mouth.

Now, seriously, you don't want to even know what's my first meal in Vietnam.
I am not going to tell, but all I can say is, it has nothing to do with Vietnamese, at all.
Enough said.

I have heard so much about Pho, obviously, since this is where it all came from.
In fact, rumors have it that Pho was even named the National food of Vietnam, if there was even such a thing.
Well, there is an ongoing debate about that, among the Vietnamese themselves; on whether Pho deserves the title when there are other contenders to the title such as the Bun Bo Hue (from Central Vietnam) and the Hu Tieu from the Southern part.

Needless to say, you can already guess the origins of Pho; hailing from the region which is often termed as the cradle of Vietnam's civilization and where the nation's story really began, right up in the north.

This is not really Pho; though in fact, in many ways, it could be mistaken for one.


It is simply and humbly known as Banh Canh.

Banh translates to mean anything; noodles or cakes that are made of flour while Canh simply means soup.

A bowl of Banh Canh; just means noodles with soup.
Simple as that, and that's how it can be just easily misled one into thinking that they were having Pho.

No, I was not fooled into thinking that this was Pho.

In fact, I have been looking to try this; and this is one particular version of Banh Canh which would easily catch my attention from the list of Banh Canh variations.

Noodles with fish cakes; or locally known as Banh Canh Cha Ca, this is my kind of Banh Canh.

I was under the impression that Banh Canh was supposed to be the Vietnamese version of udon, but thick noodles these were not; for these were just simple vermicelli noodles though they could be easily perceived as slightly thicker in texture compared to the usual vermicelli (with reference to our mee hoon back at home).


Throw in a few pieces of fish cakes, fried fish fillets and let them immerse in the bowl-depth level fill of lightly flavored soup with a strong hint of fish stock used as the base ingredients, finally topping or just complement the combination with neatly diced spring onions and assorted vegetables and you have just landed yourself in hot soup.
I mean, a Hot Bowl of Soup with Noodles and Fish cakes; or simply, the Banh Canh Cha Ca.


If the vegetables are not enough, there is always another plate filled to the brim with overflowing raw vegetables for you to submerge into the soup; to your heart's content.
Satisfaction guaranteed.

Take my word for it, you will never have to worry about the lack of vegetables when dining in Vietnam.

Daily recommended intake of fibre and servings of vegetables, always checked with that extra few ticks when you are in Vietnam.


I have tried the Banh Canh Cha Ca on two rounds on my trip; though to be fair, I tried them in these specialty restaurants and food court serving the local Vietnamese fare.
It was not too bad, but I am not completely taken away or enamored by the tastes of it, just yet.


Perhaps I need to hunt for more versions of this; or perhaps that is the whole concept of the Banh Canh Cha Ca.

It is not supposed to be overwhelming in taste, but rather, it is just that simplicity that wins the game.

It would be perfect for anyone looking for a fuss-free bowl of noodles, with that fishy kick.

Of course, never forget the vegetables.

Or the accompanying chopped chilies and shrimp paste, or soy sauce.


This is no Pho, but Banh Canh Cha Ca is not on any losing end either.

At least, not for me.


*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal expenses, opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

This is based on my personal experience and is told in a subjective manner from my perspective based on my visit.

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