The last post on Grand Century Mall in San Jose seems to be several months old, so I thought I'd post an update from my trip yesterday. We happened to be in the area and, after a quick Chow search, I settled on the mall so we could try a few different things.
We ate a green waffle (I believe, banh kep) from the bakery at the front entrance. $1.25 per waffle. I wasn't totally impressed since the waffle was a bit soggy (wish I had requested a fresh one!), but it did have nice coconut flavor. I can't tell if they actually add pandan extract, as is authentic, in addition to the food coloring, or if it's just food coloring.
We also tried a banh xeo from the banh xeo stand (didn't catch the name, sorry). It was just okay for me; the filling was sparse and the crepe was on the thick side and not crisp. $7.50. A little expensive for what it was, but whatever.
Finally, we got a tray of bánh khọt from the stand immediately to the right of the banh xeo stand (BK is #1 on the menu and costs $7). This version was actually quite good. The bottoms were crisp and lacy, and the inside was tender, custardy with the subtle flavor of coconut. I could take or leave the shrimp on top -- I'm used to super flavorful Gulf shrimp and this was nothing remarkable -- and I did find myself wishing for more sauteed scallions and those pieces of fried lard. But otherwise, yum. We did go in the middle of the afternoon and it wasn't busy at all, so I'm guessing they made it to order. That probably made a big difference. I also thought their nuoc mam was decently spicy (a plus).
If we make it back (so many places in the area to try!), we'll try the cha ca and the banh beo (steamed, not fried). A girl next to me was eating the banh beo and it came in 10 individual bowls.
Photos below of the banh kep (waffle) and bánh khọt.
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