American food blogger gulped down 22 servings of steamed rice rolls

By Diep Tu   December 29, 2022 | 11:46 pm PT
American food blogger gulped down 22 servings of steamed rice rolls
American food blogger Max McFarlin (R) and his friend try banh uot cakes at a stall in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Max McFarlin
American food blogger Max McFarlin tried to break the record of eating 62 plates of banh uot (steamed thin rice cake) at a food stall in HCMC, but he conceded defeat after downing just 22 plates.

McFarlin and a friend visited the Ban Me Giang Vuong stall in Binh Thanh District, around a 15-minute drive from city center, where the owner serves banh uot rice cakes that originate from the Central Highlands.

A few years ago, stacked uot cake became a phenomenon in Ho Chi Minh City because it involved a strange and appealing way to enjoy the snack, different from that of the traditional uot cake.

Diners spread a thin sheet of uot cake on a plate and add various fillings such as cha com (green sticky rice patties), nem nuong (grilled pork sausage), nem chua (fermented pork roll) and grilled pork, coupled with herbs and slices of cucumber and mango. Diners then roll it up and dip the roll in a sauce. One normally feels full after consuming about 8-10 servings.

American food blogger Max McFarlin learns to make banh uot under the guidance of a stall owner in Saigon. Video courtesy of Max McFarlin YouTube channel

McFarlin tried making the cake and succeeded on the second attempt. He admitted that the job of making this dish is not easy as the cooks have to work in a steaming-hot kitchen that is similar to a sauna. Moreover, the cook must be highly skillful because the cake is torn easily. On average, a professional cake maker can make up to three servings at a time.

"What a precious work. Hot! This is like a sauna," McFarlin told the female owner while trying to make banh uot cakes.

The stall owner explained that uot cake originates from Buon Ma Thuot, in the Central Highlands, but it is actually a combination of cuisines from all three regions of Vietnam: cha com of the north, nem nuong and nem chua of the central region, and the grilled meat and sweet sauce coming from the south; thus, the cake is popular with many people.

McFarlin is particularly fond of garlic from Ly Son Island in central Vietnam for its aroma, which elevates the taste of the sauce and the cakes at Ban Me Giang Huong.

McFarlin and his friend paid VND252,000 ($10.69) for the meal. One serving of uot cake costs VND2,500 and one serving of fillings and herbs costs VND33,000 and VND8,000 respectively.

McFarlin is a vlogger from Arkansas who has been to many Asian countries, including India, Thailand, Korea, and Laos, to discover their local staples.

He has visited Vietnam several times and explored several cities and provinces on motorbikes.

His YouTube channel has more than 500,000 followers.

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