Bánh bèo originates from Hue and is one of the city’s most traditional dishes. It is popular throughout central Vietnam, especially in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai although the dish is widely enjoyed throughout the country. The name of the dish refers to its shape. Bánh loosely means cake and bèo means duckweed. Hence, the dish is likened to rounded duckweed and therefore in English is referred to as bloated water fernshaped cake. Bánh bèo is made from a combination of a rice flour and tapioca starch cake topped with a variety of ingredients. A topping of pork and shrimp is typical of the Da Nang/Quang Nam region. Although a popular a snack, nowadays it features on many restaurant menus.
Bánh bèo is present in modern day Vietnamese slang. Due to the dish’s soft rubbery texture bánh bèo is slang for Vietnamese girls who are portrayed as too feminine, weak, too dependent and high maintenance.
Bánh bèo Hue features on Red Bean Hoi An’s breakfast menu.