This is a series of food experiments by an Indian foodie YUMMRAJ in Vietnam. It will cover different food places & interesting stories of food & people.
In a nutshell:
An amazing place for foodies if u r open to experiment with food, almost everything is freshly made & served , super simple yet very delicious, an array of restaurants – almost every 4th shop is an eatery, pocket friendly yet u end up paying hundreds of thousands for a meal!!!!!
Vietnam’s currency is horribly devalued. So I was paying in lacs for every meal e.g. VN$ 160000 for a meal which is equivalent to Rs. 437 !!!! It was a challenge while browsing thru the menu card – to ensure I was not going overboard.
Meal 1 –
Ended up in Vietnam to attend a training program. Before I set out my friends told me – no need to eat in expensive restaurants. Just go out & eat anything on the streets or small eateries – even they serve good food.
My first meal after I landed in Vietnam last week was PHO. This is a famous traditional Vietnamese Noodle soup. I went for the beef option. This comes in many other options as well – pork, lamb, chicken, seafood etc.
The restaurant was at the famous Caravelle Hotel. As I sat down for lunch the Lady brought me the menu card. I asked for Vietnamese section & instead of just showing me the section, she started talking – ‘Is this ur first time in Vietnam’, food preferences etc. Then she emphatically suggested ‘ Pls try PHO’. I agreed.
As she served the food, I asked for fork as I am not good with chopsticks. She said ‘Why don’t i try chopstick. Pho is enjoyed better with chopstick’. I said’ but I am not good at it’ . She said ‘ No probs. U can just try. In fact there r is almost no more guests this afternoon. So no one to feel shy about – there is a first time for everyone’.
I was amazed – This was not traditional restaurant interaction but was very very warm. It felt a lot different than a customer – server conversation.
I tried & actually enjoyed my PHO with chopsticks
The pho was served with a variety of condiments – 2 kinds of leaves (I cud not understand the name even after asking thrice), sprouts, sliced red chillies, 2 kinds of sauces (a sweetish red one & a soya) & a dip.
The noodles were thicker than maggi, quite straight, soft & superb. The soup was made of stock that was unparallelled. The intensity of flavors & taste was awesome. The beef pieces in the noodle soup were soft & non chewy.
Super loved this.
Meal 2 –
The next meal I had was when I went out for a long stroll on the streets. I saw an Eatery named Wrap & Roll. Rolls, as I had figured out, r a popular food item here in Ho Chi Minh City.
The restaurant had a super colorful menu card with detailed description – I wud have been lost without the details. Almost 70% food mentioned in the menu card had pics.
I went for ‘Banh Bot Lot’ – means ‘Steamed shrimp & pork dumplings’. The shrimp is made into a paste & mixed with the base of the dumpling – in this case rice paste. Marinated Pork balls are then put in the middle. The resultant texture is very unique – soft, not slimy but a slight bit sticky. Wow to taste & outstanding flavors……. slurp slurp……………. Alas, I am yet to come across such good dumplings in India.
Post the ready made roll, I ordered Cuon Bun Cha Ha noi – Grilled pork with vermicelli & veggies, eaten in a roll that u have to make urself. There is a flowchart of how to make the roll – written on the table mat.
The roll base is served separately. It is also made from rice & is so thin that it ends up being translucent. I wonder how they are made!!!!
The condiments included Grilled pork, assorted vegetables, unknown leaves (unknown to me) & boiled vermicelli!!!!! Vermicelli inside a roll!!!!
I started making different permutations & combinations with every bite – with the veggies, without the veggies but with the leaves, only veggies & leaves etc. The roll tasted great in almost all forms just as it is. It tasted good with the dips as well.
I had this roll earlier at Blue Ginger, Delhi. There of course the roll was premade & served with sauces already in it.
For the rest of the story go to YUMMRAJ eating out in Vietnam – part 2