Things To Do

Bánh Chung Collective Lands in Dallas for Inclusivity, Collaboration and a Vietnamese Treat

Making bánh chung is a group effort.
Making bánh chung is a group effort. Coral von Zumwalt
Bánh Chung Collective, a touring event around the celebration of Tet, is stopping by one of our favorite spots Saturday, where people can learn to make this Vietnamese treat.

Tables in Sandwich Hag in the Cedars will be full of people making bánh chung, a Vietnamese rice cake with mung beans, pork and shallots. Experts will lead the teaching portion, spearheaded by Los Angeles chef Diep Tran.

“We’re making bánh chung, which is like a thick holiday treat that is kind of pretty labor intensive,” she says. “You bring the whole family or the extended family to make bánh chung. Here we’re doing it in the spirit of the community, making it where we’re extending it to community itself.”

click to enlarge Chef Diep Tran (right) assists guests in making bánh chung. - CORAL VON ZUMWALT
Chef Diep Tran (right) assists guests in making bánh chung.
Coral von Zumwalt
It’s also a celebration of events that have traditionally been built around women preparing for the holiday.

“It’s a woman’s space; I love the idea of having a time where it’s just women just getting to hang out, even though it’s in the spirit of work, but kind of like a barn raising, a communal weaving, it’s a moment for women to commune with each other. I love that part of it, celebrating in the north of Vietnam where my people are from.”

Tran explains Tet is a time when many reflect on recent celebrations. But it’s not always the most welcoming of environments.

“It’s very heteronormative. It’s a time to celebrate who got married, who had babies, all these things that are constrictive ideas of what family is,” Tran says. “I like to expand that family: What does it mean if you don’t want to get married, you don’t want to have children? How do you not get sidelined in some way?

“For a lot of queer [people], we had to grin and bear it in the heteronormative society.”

So she hosts these events where all are welcome to take part in a family practice. Dallas is the final stop on the tour, which has also made its way to New York and San Francisco after starting in Los Angeles.

While our city seems like a logical stop at this point, Tran is mostly landing here because of one person — one who’s no surprise when you hear Tran talk about efforts for creating inclusive environments: Sandwich Hag chef Reyna Duong.

click to enlarge Chef Reyna Duong - DANA COWIN
Chef Reyna Duong
Dana Cowin
“I wanted to pick chefs who were community-minded like that and had an extensive idea of what community is, and Reyna is one of the folks I wanted to ask to be a part of it," Tran says. "I think people in Dallas understand what a strong community member and leader she is and how much she fosters that and expands it to be inclusive of people across abilities as well as culture and race.”

Some ticket levels of the event are sold out, but there are a few remaining for the $75 ticket, which gets you in, access to all the necessary ingredients and supplies to make bánh chung, along with instruction followed by a Tet lunch. Tran is handling the class and preparing an appetizer, while our own Duong will prepare the lunch: thit kho trung with do chua, jasmine rice and nuoc mam chili.

The Dallas stop for the Bánh Chung Collective will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at Sandwich Hag, 1902 S. Lamar St. in the Cedars.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.