Thursday, December 28, 2017

Party like it's Tết with these Vietnamese 'tamales' in Madison Heights

Posted By on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 at 2:01 PM

click to enlarge Banh gio - TOM PERKINS
  • Tom Perkins
  • Banh gio

It's common for folks in Vietnam to ring in their Lunar New Year, Tết, with banh chung, a comfort dish that's typically found in delis and sandwich shops, especially in the country's north.

Tết is still a month and a half off, but as our own new year approaches the folks at Madison Heights' Le Banh Mi — who hail from the city of Huế – have us covered for the American New Year with its stock of banh chung.

Though the nice old lady who runs the tiny shop barely speaks English, she was able to explain that bahn chung is a hefty brick of sticky rice and mung bean encasing a nugget of crumbled, peppery pork. The package is tightly wrapped in fragrant banana leaves that impart a tea-like flavor in the rice and mung. The black pepper bite is heavy, but works wonderfully with the salty dish. Another customer in Le Banh Mi characterized it as "a Vietnamese tamale," which is an interesting comparison, though it could also be called a dumpling.

A variation of the banh chung that Le Banh Mi also prepares each morning is the banh gio, which is clearly more dumpling-like, consisting of a dough of flour, starch, and broth. Like its cousin, salty and peppery pork crumbles are encased in the banh gio, along with mushrooms and shallots, though the shape is more pyramid-like than brick-like.

And the price is right at $2.95 each. Though banh chung is typically cut up and served to the family around Tết, now's the time to stock up for the American New Year's Eve.

click to enlarge Banh gio - TOM PERKINS
  • Tom Perkins
  • Banh gio

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation