What makes this place stand out from the thousands of pau shops in Saigon? Paus aka Bánh Bao were introduced to the people of Vietnam via 1000 years of Chinese rule. Most if not all savory paus in Vietnam contain a filling composed of pork, onions, chinese sausage and 1/4 of an boiled egg. Ông Cả Cần's paus were famous for containing a quail egg in the center instead of the usual boiled chicken egg. His paus were also bigger than the others.

Bà Năm Sa Đéc, a famous actress made a business selling Cả Cần Style Paus after she retired from the stage. They were a huge hit and the name still carries on today. Although I'm not sure if Bà Năm Sa Đéc still owns the place or not.

Besides their famous paus, they also offer Hủ Tiếu (pictured left).

So how did the food taste? Eh....I have to say I was kind of disappointed. There was nothing bad about the food it just didn't blow me away. I guess my expectations were a bit too high.

Most premixed Vietnamese pau flour sold out there promise you'll be able to make Cả Cần paus with their flour. So there must be something special about Cả Cần paus for people to want to imitate them so much. Whatever that something is....I didn't see or taste it that day. The dough was dense and had a noticeable hint of ammonia, which tells me...it was improperly done. What do I mean? Ammonia (baking ammonia) evaporates under heat, releasing co2. The co2 is captured by the gluten in the dough which the final product soft, light and fluffy. The noticeable hint of ammonia suggests too much ammonia was added, so much more then what's needed. Secondly the thick dense dough tells me that the dough wasn't kneaded enough.

But anyways, if you're ever in Saigon and are around An Dong market, stop Bánh Bao Cả Cần for a taste and tell me what you think.

Comments (14)

On 12:28 AM , Anonymous said...

Hi HT,
I apologize if I posted in the wrong page. Please help me make my favorite "banh cam" when you have a chance. Thank you.

On 10:58 AM , hoangtam/tt said...

recipe is already posted.

On 4:48 PM , Unknown said...


glad you are back. missed your postings

On 1:52 AM , jadepearl said...

Thanks for your post!

Love the pau! Wow...interesting story!

On 7:53 AM , Le Cookie Masqué said...

Too bad I discover this spot now that I'm back from my expatriation in saigon ...
By the way, I can't remember if I ever thanked you for all your wonderful recipes (especially for the Banh Phu Si, if you can understand french, you will understand how very important it was for me, a real obsession ... )
So : Bravo !

On 1:35 PM , Juyee Teo said...

BTW ammonia does not give off co2! Ammonia is NH3 or Ammonia hydroxide is NH4OH and hence it physically cannot give off co2. Ammonia should never be in our food products!

The best bao zi 包子 flour I have found is Meigui fen 玫瑰粉 which is made in HK. It is really difficult to find this flour and when you find it, buy lots of it!

On 8:12 PM , hoangtam/tt said...

i'm talking about baking ammonia, it evaporates when heated and gives off co2....

read this:

On 2:01 PM , Anonymous said...

Hi HoangTam, Would you please tell me how's to cook che` da^.u va'n(Haricot bean ) Thank you!

On 4:16 PM , hoangtam/tt said...

This is a blog...if you have any recipe requests, please post them in the forums I visit.


On 6:10 AM , Vinh said...

Hi HT,
All the ONG CA CAN family is living in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA.
They have 4 restaurants in Montreal: 1-Restaurant ONG CA CAN, 2-Restaurant My Tien, 3- Restaurant Co Ba, 4- Fastfood Saigon Style.
"Banh bao Ca Can" is invented by Ong Ca Can family, not by Ba nam Sa dec. She is just a muppet hired by Ong Ca Can to promote his product.
Soon (in few weeks), Montrealers can once again reappreciate "Banh bao Ca Can".
"Banh bao Ca Can" in Saigon actually: 1- The one selling in the morning is a fake, produced by an ex-employee. 2- The one selling in the afternoon is the real one made by a family member of Bà Ca can.

On 11:54 PM , Anonymous said...

Now, Montrealers in Québec, Canada can appreciate once again the famous Banh bao made by the older daughter of Mrs Ca Can at Restaurant MY TIEN in Montréal.
Banh bao My Tien as it is now named, is a modified version of the original "Banh bao Ca Can" but always with the same taste. The dough is made with a new formula without any chemical. It is white, soft, light, fluffy ... fitting all requirements of the real Banh bao without the taste of ammonia. This dough is developped by her partner Vinh DAM.
The filling is also modified by Ms My Tien with less oil without removing the original taste of her mother's Banh bao. She develops until now three types of filling: Porc, Chicken and Porc+Shrimp.

On 12:50 AM , hoangtam/tt said...

If the original version was so good, why you want to modify it?

A classic never dies!

On 11:38 PM , Vinh said...

Hi HT,
1- The dough is totally depending on the type and the quality of the flour. Flour produced in Asia has not the same characteristics of the one in Europe or in America. We can't obtain a soft, white, fluffy banh bao without using ammonia or other chemicals. The success of Banh bao My Tien is that it doesn’t contain any chemicals or ammonia.

2- Oil: Too much oil as in the original Banh Bao is always pushed away by today people.

So, it is obvious that the ammonia odor and oily Banh bao is not accepted in North America among new Vietnamese generation requiring a healthier food.

Banh bao My Tien is born with these objectives without sacrificing the original flavor.

On 10:25 AM , Anonymous said...

I have baking ammonia, please show me how to make banh bao. I've tried a lot of recipes, but none of them came close to the Banh Bao Ca Can I used to eat back in Saigon and Montreal.
Thanks a lot