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KennethT

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Posts posted by KennethT

  1. As a small business owner, I would also add that when looking for people to hire, attitude (cleanliness, timeliness, organization) is very important, but if you will be working side by side with this person, it is also good to find someone who is a good personality fit otherwise that relationship will not last long!

    • Like 1
  2. When we were there, we went to Cheung Chau and really enjoyed it.  We  went to a seafood restaurant by the water, and among other things got some mantis shrimp (they looked good in the tank, and we'd never tried them before) but they were almost impossible to peel!  Maybe they weren't in season, or maybe not cooked properly, or maybe that's just how they are?

  3. When we were in Hong Kong, my wife fell in love with the steamed bao filled with black sesame. It became her favorite dessert (she doesn't like sweets).  Hard to find in NY - even in Chinatown, but we do see it from time to time on our travels, and always have to get it!

     

    Supposedly, somewhere in Hoi An, there was a woman who had a black sesame pudding stall, but we never found her.

  4. I originally learned a little using the Pimsleur series of language learning cds for our trip to Saigon. I just started get comfortable saying a few words by the time we left. This time, I refreshed my skills about a month prior to leaving with the cds again which went a lot faster and I was much more comfortable using it right from the start. I actually did use it quite a bit, but most of the time I could have avoided it by pointing or miming.

    • Like 3
  5. Yeah, the rice paste in the banana leaf, topped with minced pork and shrimp, with that sweet fish sauce... it was awesome.  Don't get me started on my love for mangosteens....  but don't pass up a really good, tree ripened SE Asian mango if you ever get the chance... they taste almost nothing like what passes for mangoes in the US.  Right now, in NY, we're getting "champagne" mangoes, aka ataulfo mangoes, grown in Mexico - but since they're picked green and "yellow" on the shelf, as opposed to ripening on the tree, the flavor, texture, aroma and juiciness totally lacks by comparison.  I made the mistake of getting a couple of these mangoes over the weekend, and made a viet style mango salsa for some salmon last night...  I am so sorry I did.  The memory of the awesome mango is too fresh in my mind, so these mangoes tasted like crap - even though I know in my head that they're really the same things we always get during some times a year, and I am usually a fan - at least mostly...

    • Like 3
  6. We wanted to get dinner that night really early since we had to wake up ridiculously early the following day to make our 7:30AM flight back to Saigon.  So, we just decided to wander around the area near the hotel in the early evening to see what looked good.

     

    In our wandering, we stumbled on a few interesting things...

     

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    An unknown pagoda...

     

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    Selling sticks of incense on the street. 

     

    We saw this fried rice vendor setting up for the night, so we decided to sit down.

     

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    He did fried rice and fried noodles... 

     

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    Fried rice with beef, cucumbers and pickled mustard greens on the side

     

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    Shrimp

     

    Perfectly cooked and not oily at all... not bad for less than $2.

     

     

     

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    Goodbye Hue!!!!

     

    The hotel was so nice - we were planning on leaving at 6AM to get to the airport to make our 7:30 flight - and the hotel breakfast doesn't usually open until 6 - but the night before, the front desk staff asked us if we'd like, the restaurant can open at 6:45 for us to eat breakfast before we go!  I declined, but I really appreciated the offer.

     

    Once at the Hue airport, which is tiny - there are like 3 gates - we got airport bun bo hue for breakfast:

     

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    It was actually really good, especially for the airport... slightly shrimpy-er than other versions we had, and a wonderful lemongrass aroma.  The price was double what it was on the street, but for $2/bowl, still a bargain.

     

    Once in the Saigon airport, we had some time to kill, so what to do?

     

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    Surprisingly, the airport pho bo was quite good, although on the sweeter side, even for Saigon.  Herbs provided were thai basil (standard size - not the mini size as was in central VN) and sawtooth coriander.

     

    Finally, one parting shot... while in the Taipei airport on the way home, I decided to get a snack, even though we had already eaten 3 meals already...

     

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    Char siu bao and loose leaf oolong...

     

    So that was the trip... we loved this trip - there is such a raw beauty to central VN - it's hard not to get gorgeous photos almost everywhere you turn... the food, while not as explosively flavored as in Saigon, was really interesting and I thought provided a good insight into the lifestyle of the people living there.  I hope everyone enjoyed following along!

    • Like 10
  7. Later on, for lunch, I had wanted to find a place that made another Hue specialty, banh bot loc.... so we found this place:

     

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    Ba Do (bah duh)

     

    We got some of the specialties:

     

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    Banh beo (buyng behuh) - like before, it's a dish filled with steamed rice cake, topped with dried shrimp, but this one was also topped with a pork cracklin' - because, pork cracklin makes everything better.  Served with a sweet fish sauce with and without chili.

     

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    cha tom (chah tomme) - this is a shrimp mouse that has been steamed

     

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    This little oddity is banh bot loc (buyng buht luhk) - a cube or pork and a whole shrimp (head, tail and shell on) are encased in tapioca starch and steamed.  The tapioca starch winds up with the texture like a warm gummy bear, with a crunchy shrimp inside!  Fascinating and tasty.

    • Like 6
  8. The next morning, we decided to skip the hotel breakfast and go to a local banh canh place.  We went here:

     

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    Hy'o'ng banh canh cua roi

     

    They specialize in making the banh canh as seen upthread, but they do it with crab (cua)

     

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    The quenelles were either made from shrimp or crab, and there were lots of pieces of crab meat floating around (most with the cartilage).  Like before, the dominant flavor of the broth was of black pepper.

     

    From there, we walked to the Dong Ba market, which is a giant market selling absolutely anything and everything.

     

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    • Like 9
  9. That night, we went out to dinner to have a different version of the banh khoai - this time, at a restaurant that is supposed to specialize in it.  The name of the restaurant is Lac Thien (luk t-hee-en), and they are in every tourist guidebook, but are also highly regarded locally.  Aside from the banh khoai, their also known for being owned by a man who is deaf mute, but is completely understandable when he mimes how to eat certain dishes, or when he asks if you're enjoying everything.  He is also known for making a custom beer bottle opener where he can open 4 bottles at once - if you get a beer, he will even give you an opener to take home!  Not only is he understandable, but his joy and enthusiasm are totally infectious... it was great just to be around his presence.

     

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    The restaurant is operated by his daughters, who are all super friendly and nice.  One of them even speaks a little English.

     

    Their banh khoai was incredible - so crispy and crunchy - definitely the best we'd had on this trip.  We ordiginally ordered 2, plus a few other Hue specialty dishes... but it was so good, my tapeworm made me order one more at the end!

     

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    It's served with:

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    trai va and cucumber

     

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    Lettuce and herbs - mint, fish mint and mini thai basil

     

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    Dipping sauce made from pork liver, shrimp paste, garlic and who knows what else, but it was really good!

     

    We also ordered:

     

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    Banh beo (buyng bayuh), which is a dish of rice steamed rice cake topped with dried shrimp and pork, served with a sweet fish sauce - awesome.

     

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    banh nam (buyng naam) which is rice paste topped with dried shrimp and pork, then steamed in a banana leaf. 

     

    The people working there were so nice.  After eating, we were trying to get a taxi, but couldn't find one of the ones that didn't rip you off.  After standing at the corner for like 10 minutes, our waitress comes out, asks us which hotel we were staying at, and realizing that it wasn't that far away, offered to take us there on her motorbike!  While the offer was very sweet, and I realize that many tourists take motorbike taxis in Vietnam, we had to decline... so after a bit of back and forth with her trying to convince us of how safe it was, she relented and went inside and called the non-rip off taxi company to pick us up - which came in just a few minutes.

    • Like 7
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