Talk Food

Bánh Chả, The Meat Roll Of Traditional Hanoi Snack

Have you eaten or heard about bánh chả before? Literally, bánh chả means meat cake/roll. It’s called what’s it’s called because the crunchy golden brown morsel looks similar and share the similar shaping technique to the meat roll. The special thing about bánh chả is the use of lime leaves, fat blocks and sugar in the filling. Wait till you try one and you’ll know how different and unique bánh chả is. I bought the sweet and savory bánh chả as a souvenir from two different brands; Bảo Minh and Hương Trà when I visited Hanoi late last year.

Hương Trà Bánh Chả
The bánh chả from Hương Trà looks like chocolate chips cookie, eh?

The comparison & verdict between Bảo Minh and Hương Trà bánh chả:

I bought Bảo Minh at Vinmart on my second night in Hanoi while Hương Trà was bought at Ô Mai Hồng Lam on the second last day.

Bảo Minh Bánh Chả
Bảo Minh packaging sports a modern look with the picture of bánh chả teasing you. Notice the lime leaves at the lower-left corner? The red and yellow color theme seems like the favorite color of Vietnamese (Vietnam flag is red and yellow).

Hương Trà Bánh Chả
Hương Trà packaging is the simple transparent plastic. The red-yellow logo is the logo of Ô Mai Hồng Lam. Hương Trà lable is red and white in color (first photo).

Bảo Minh Bánh Chả Hương Trà Bánh Chả
Price per box 27,000 VND (~RM4.80) 20,000 VND (~RM4.00)
Weight per box 230g 170g
Bánh chả color pale brown golden brown
Bánh chả shape Looks similar to meat roll or pillow Looks similar to small size chocolate chips cookie
Bánh chả ingredients bột mỳ (wheat flour), đường kính (sugar), mỡ lợn (lard), bột nếp (glutinous rice flour), dầu thực vật (vegetable oil), bơ (butter), hành lá (scallion), lá chanh (lime leaves), rượu trắng (white wine), nước sạch (clean water), chất tạo xốp (500 (ii), 503 (iii)) (azodicarbonamide), chất chống oxy hóa (antioxidants), chất tạo màu tổng hợp (160 (i), 160a (ii)) (synthetic colorants) bột mỳ (wheat flour), đường kính (sugar), lá chanh (lime leaves), mỡ phần (fat portion), vani (vanillin)
Bánh chả texture crunchy and a little tough to bite texture is limp and not fresh due to air entering the packaging, easy to bite
Bánh chả flavors more fragrant, more sweet less fragrant, less sweet
Shelf life 6 months 1 month

Ingredients comparison
After looking at the latter part of Bảo Minh ingredients which ain’t natural, I would gladly skip this brand the next time. The only ingredients from Hương Trà that I’m not fond of is the vani (vanillin).

Bảo Minh Bánh Chả
Bảo Minh bánh chả.

Texture, color & shape comparison
Bảo Minh bánh chả is crunchy and a little tough to bite but that doesn’t mean I didn’t empty everything. Haha. Unfortunately, the air has gone into the packaging of Hương Trà making the bánh chả limp and not fresh. I couldn’t judge its original quality but empty everything I did. Bảo Minh’s shape looks similar to the meat roll or a pillow and is pale brown in color while Hương Trà’s looks similar to the chocolate chip cookies in smaller size and are baked to a golden brown. If you look closely, Hương Trà bánh chả is shaped like meat roll too, just that it got disfigured after baking.

Hương Trà Bánh Chả
Hương Trà bánh chả.

Here are the two zoomed-in looks of the fillings. They are crunchy, firm, aromatic and candy-like. Doesn’t feel like eating fat at all. I think this is due to the combination of fat pieces and sugar.
Bảo Minh Bánh Chả
Bảo Minh bánh chả. The lime leaves were not visible in this shot.

Hương Trà Bánh Chả
Hương Trà bánh chả. You can see the lime leaves in this shot.

Flavors comparison
Bảo Minh is more fragrant and sweet while Hương Trà is less fragrant and less sweet. The aromas and taste from both brands are totally different.

For someone who loves snacking, I like both equally as they are delicious. Seriously.

Just like bánh đậu xanh, the best way to enjoy bánh chả is simply pop ’em in your mouth or accompany it with tea.

I’m so glad I got to try this almost unknown traditional snack outside of Vietnam. Would definitely get more as gifts and for my own snacking when I visit Hanoi in the future.

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