Things to Do

Recession (and belly) friendly lunch: Vietnamese steamed bun

If there was such a thing as a Vietnamese Whopper, the banh bao would be it.

Banh bao, a steamed rice dumpling, is like its Chinese cousin, the char siu bao. But instead of harboring BBQ pork, banh bao contains two types of pork mixed together: salty ground pork with green onions and sweet, greasy Chinese sausage.

What puts a banh bao over the top is that it also contains a hard-boiled egg. Some bakeries make their dumplings with halved chicken eggs, but other bakeries, like Vinh Xuong Bakery, at 375 South Federal Boulevard in the Far East Center, use whole quail eggs.

Vinh Xuong, which also prepares banh mi thit (or Vietnamese hoagies), sells banh bao for $1.50 a piece, making it a cheap lunch without all the fast-food guilt: one bun comes in just shy of 200 calories. And if you ask the old ladies at the counter nicely, they'll also warm it up for you.

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Kim Nguyen