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KennethT

Week in coastal Central Vietnam foodblog

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Taking some time to relax in the room with some A/C to get out of the heat (it's been 95 to 100F and a heat index of about 120F the whole time we've been here)... Going to enjoy this nice tea set and some fruit in our room...

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Ridiculously good mango.


Edited by KennethT (log)
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Did you slice up that mango so beautifully with a butter knife? Now that is impressive!

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Yep! Not really impressive skills needed with these ridiculously tender, sweet and juicy mangoes... You don't even have to chew!

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If anyone wants to see some other photos of ours, my wife has been posting a bunch on facebook, some using the hashtag #sweatcontest2017

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I gave my fruit plate an upgrade, then ate most of them!

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Enjoying a mid-morning snack at the hotel: lime juice and summer rolls with shrimp and pork20170705_112030.thumb.jpg.8e7a228fe5990995fba8e9012af85b2a.jpg

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I couldn't get a good photo, but soon after I took that last photo, it started POURING with tons of lightning. It was quite a spectacle, especially being able to observe it from the comfort and safety of our hotel room, enjoying another awesome mango and some tea with our tea set.

 

The rain stopped just before we went out for dinner...

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This rainbow didn't lead to a pot of gold, but something even better.... this dish of mam tom chua!

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This is a great story, but definitely too long to struggle with this pima cell phone..

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The clouds parted, and the heavens shone down on:

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Banh Khoai!!!!!!  I wish you could taste how crunchy and crispy it was...


Edited by KennethT (log)
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So this will probably be the last teaser before the real show starts on Sunday or Monday, jetlag dependent, as we leave for home early tomorrow morning.

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Dong Ba market - sorry for the exposure issues- I think my wife got better shots I'll be able to add later...

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Banh bot loc - a whole shrimp (head and shell included) and some pork encased in tapioca starch, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.

 

I'll be back as soon as I can!

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Waiting for the plane to load luggage... Airport bun bo hue - cost for 2 plus 2 bottles water, about $6 which is roughly double the street price.

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Wonderful to read this blog! Brings back great memories of our trip to Vietnam in 2015...Food was amazing!

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Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Now in the Saigon airport waiting for our flight to Taiwan.  And, since we haven't eaten in about 2 hours...

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When in Saigon, it's time for Pho! Interestingly, the prices were about double here compared to the airport in Hue. Pho was $5!

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Now in the Taiwan airport, but not that hungry since I have now eaten 3 times today already, and will be fed on the next plane soon... But I had to get a snack...

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Our home for the next 15 hours or so... The next time I write will be on Sunday at the earliest!

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So, we're home and have slept a full night's sleep, but I feel like I am in that inbetween sleep and awake state.  I barely slept on the flights coming here, so by the time we landed in NY, around 10PM NY time, we had been up for a really long time (about 30+ hours).  What with our extremely efficient JFK airport, ahem, we got home around 12:15AM, even with Global Entry, which greatly reduced our time going through immigration and customs.

 

Unfortunately, I won't be able to start posting until this afternoon at the latest, since the hard drive on my computer crashed just before we left, so I have to spend a few hours today installing its replacement, then loading all the photos and collating them.

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Arrrggghhhhh.  It is taking forever to clone my old hard drive over to my new hard drive... which I need to do before I can copy/collate all the photos from 3 sources (my main camera I use for sightseeing, my cell and my wife's cell).  It has been going all day, and will probably be going on by the time I go to bed tonight, so unfortunately, I don't see any way I'll be able to put anything up tonight... fingers crossed for tomorrow!  Sorry folks!

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43 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Sorry folks!

No worries. Your fans will wait patiently  knowing the reward will be worth it.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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OK, now that you've seen the previews, it's time to start the show.  My hard drive is not fully operational yet - it should be tonight, by the time I'm ready to go to bed, so I can't download photos from my main sightseeing camera yet, but I was able to download all of my wife's photos and my cell phone photos onto a USB stick and bring it into work so I can get started.

 

Planning this trip was a little more difficult than planning for Saigon a year and a half ago.  While there are a few decent guidebooks that point out the sights, and some tourist restaurants, there are very few blogs or information from people actually living there helping to point the way to really good local food.  We got a good amount of help from one of my wife's Facebook friends who is a guide in Hanoi - but he had some information on Hoi An (hoy ahn) and Hue (hway) that wound up to be pretty good.

 

As usual, we connected through Taipei, flying on EVA Air...  a very pleasant flight, and I was surprised to be able to get a decent 7-8 hours of sleep!!!  Even still, it's a really long day as I worked a full day, starting at around 7AM going to board our flight at 1:30AM!  Then after the 14.5 hour long flight (of which I slept 7-8 hours), we had about a 2 hour layover in Taiwan before a 3 hour flight to Saigon... then a long layover - maybe about 4 hours (which was totally necessary as you'll see below) and finally a 1 hour flight to Danang.  I think we wound up getting to our hotel around 3:30 or 4PM the day after we left!  But you gain a lot of the time back on the way home as there is a 13 hour time difference between Vietnam and NY right now.

 

So, as I griped about before, the Taipei airport has gotten rid of the free, beachy lounge (see the Saigon post for photos of it) so there isn't much space to wait around while waiting for the food court to open.  The first flight landed around 4:30AM, and so we wound up getting to the terminal around 5... having an hour to kill while waiting for the restaurant to open at 6.  When it finally did, we got:

 

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Waiting for the restaurant to open

 

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Taiwanese beef noodle soup and loose leaf oolong tea.  As you can see, the noodles are quite thick and have very good texture.  The pieces of beef are huge, and really really tender.  The broth is beefy, scented with what seems to be star anise.  It was a bit underseasoned, so I added some chopped chili, soy sauce, and black vinegar which really perked it up and made it fantastic.  I love it.

 

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Pork and shrimp sui mai with crab roe (left), and char siu bao (right).  As before, the filling of the char siu bao is rather smoky and quite savory, as opposed to the standard HK style which is sweet.

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The old city of Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage site - which means A) it is very unique and beautiful and B) it is extremely crowded with tourists - seemingly mostly Vietnamese tourists.  As in the past, my wife and I found ourselves to be as much a tourist attraction as the sites, as several families wanted their picture taken with us.  I wish I had the presence of mind to have them take our picture with one of our cameras also.

 

Here are some scenes taken from our first evening, after unpacking, just walking around before getting something to eat, then going to bed!

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I don't know if you can tell how exhausted I am!

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Many hotels will lend bicycles to cruise around on... or there are shops that will rent them as well.

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The greenery and flowers are incredible.  As a tourist, you are supposed to purchase a ticket for the old town (about $5) which includes admission for 5 tourist sites.  The money from the tickets are distributed to the businesses in the old town for maintenance and upkeep of the old buildings and the flowers/greenery/lanterns.

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For dinner the first evening, I wanted to try a place that specialized in Cao Lau (cow low (like owww)) - which is a noodle dish that is only made in Hoi An.  Supposedly, the noodles are made with special well water that is only available in Hoi An, and from the Ba Le well.  I never took a picture of the Ba Le well, but it really is unremarkable - you would pass it by not even knowing it was there if you didn't see people with buckets going to and from the well, and then delivering the water to local restaurants.  The first night, I didn't want to go too far to find a place to eat, and had a recommendation of this place, that, according to Google maps, was quite close to our hotel.  This was the first time of several where Google maps didn't quite know where certain addresses were - so we had to walk a few more blocks to get to the address - still not far, but not where it was "supposed" to be.  We had a recommendation to go this place:

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Trung Bac (Chum Bahk)

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1 page of the menu.

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Cao lau... what you can't tell from the picture is how dense the pork cracklins were... not so great.

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Hoi An style spring rolls Cha Gio (sha yo) - these were extremely greasy!!!!

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Showing the remaining grease!!!

So, all in all, not a great recommendation - and it left me a little down that night - but I hoped that this would not be a trend, so we went to bed, exhausted, ready to start a new day.

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Keep in mind when viewing prices that there is currently about 22,700 VND per US dollar.... so food in local restaurants (and even some tourist restaurants) is extremely cheap.

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