Pancakes in a pagoda: Finding more than just inner peace in southern Vietnam

By Thanh Nguyen   October 6, 2017 | 06:03 pm PT
Meet the volunteers who know how to make your tastebuds happy with vegan banh xeo.

For the past 18 years, Dong Lai Pagoda in Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province has been famous for its crispy pancakes. “Monks in this pagoda started making banh xeo for visitors in 1999. At first, they just made the pancakes on special occasions but demand got so high that they decided to make them every day for visitors,” Bui Van Tam, a cook who has been making banh xeo for more than 10 years at the pagoda, explains.


There are currently more than 10 volunteers making pancakes in the pagoda. “There’re always at least two-three people in the kitchen at the same time,” Tam says.


The pancakes are made from rice flour and coconut milk.


It takes five to 10 minutes to cook one pancake. For the vegan version, they're filled with tofu, mung beans, beansprouts and sesbania sesban flowers.


A close look at a pancake on the stove. The pagoda makes around 300 pancakes each weekday, but up to 450-600 at the weekend.


If you want a pancake, just wait in line for your turn.


“The vegan banh xeo here is delicious. Every time I’m in An Giang, I have to visit this pagoda for these pancakes,” Nhu from Can Tho says.


There's a dining room in the pagoda for visitors to enjoy their pancakes.


A Buddha statue in the pagoda.


Lying on National Highway 91, Dong Lai Pagoda often draws big crowds at the weekends.

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