Not only is Hoi An a charming little town, but the street food is exceptional, ranging from lemongrass pork skewers grilled on a wood fired brazier, to one of Hoi An’s specialties — White Rose Dumplings — made by one family who makes them for all the restaurants in town! The little dumplings are made from translucent white dough which is filled with spiced minced shrimp or pork, and bunched up to look like little white roses. The recipe for these darling little dumplings, banh bao vac, is a secret held by Tran Tuan Ngai.
Tran is the third generation secret keeper of the traditional white rose recipe. His grandfather first created the light and fluffy dumplings for family dinners, but they became so popular that he started selling the dumplings to his neighbors. The rest in Hoi An history.
The dumplings are made from two small 2″ rounds of rice paper with a small spoonful of meat or shrimp filling in the center. When the rice paper is steamed, the edges get soft and chewy and warp a little, making the dumpling look like a white flower.
The dumplings are served topped with crunchy bits of toasty garlic and served with a sweet dipping sauce. I sampled the little dumplings at Tran’s little shop, and again for lunch at Morning Glory, a wonderful restaurant run by Ms. Vy, a beautiful Vietnamese lady who also owns three other restaurants in town as well as her own cooking school. The dumplings were so good we ate them again at lunch. No wonder Tran’s secret recipe is a sell-out each day, the dumplings are totally addictive.