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Vietnam Victuals


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The morning before I had spotted this place near my hotel. It didn't look particularly appealing, but then I found in the evening it was ram-packed with customers, necessitating overspill onto the street outside. This I had to investigate.

 

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I managed to get a seat inside and found they only have one dish. you sit down and think you are waiting for a menu, but forget it. You are going to eat Bánh Xèo - no choice.

 

Within seconds this lot appeared in front of me.

 

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Bánh xèo is those pancake type things at the front left of the picture, They are made from rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric.  The pancakes are filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and fried until crisp.

 

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Served with a heap of vegetation. Lettuce, coriander/cilantro, culantro, mint, green mango and more bean sprouts. A side of pickled carrot and daikon radish.

 

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a dipping sauce of shrimp paste, sesame and ? Secret recipe, I suspect.

 

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And should you desire whole chillis and cloves of raw garlic.

 

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As  I was taking these pictures, this lovely elderly couple at the next table decided to give me an eating lesson. Or to be more precise, the suggested technique for getting this stuff down your gullet.

 

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Also on the table was this pile of rice paper circles.

 

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I was instructed to take one, lay on top vegetation of my choice then a piece of pancake (they were halved before serving), then roll the thing as tightly as possible like a cigar, dip into the sauce and insert in the largest hole in my face. I did as I was told. I'm that kind of guy!

 

They were utterly delicious. I thought I would need a second serving, but they were remarkably filling. However, should you need, you can order extra pancakes or vegetables etc. In the 12 days I was in Vietnam,  I ate this  here three times.

 

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And so to bed. To dream

 

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Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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@liuzhou, I have never been to Vietnam and I’m never likely to get there but I’ve had bánh xèo in Toronto so for once I can relate to something you enjoyed!  

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On 5/6/2018 at 2:20 PM, Anna N said:

@liuzhou, I have never been to Vietnam and I’m never likely to get there but I’ve had bánh xèo in Toronto so for once I can relate to something you enjoyed!  

 

The first time I ate it was in Paris about 30 years ago. At that time London had few if any Vietnamese restaurants. The UK didn't have the historic connection. I certainly never came across any, but I know they are there now. 

 

I've eaten it in Hanoi many times, but they served it in a slightly different manner. No rice paper wraps. One just  used the lettuce leaves as the wrap. Still delicious.

 

I don't suppose I'll ever get to Canada!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Looking for something else,  I just came across this picture I took of the Bánh Xèo place staff. It was later in the evening and the crowd had thinned out somewhat.  I got the impression it was a family operation, but not sure.

 

20180425_195025.thumb.jpg.d08a3ee7a8b02c5d85c27fdbb1dd90c8.jpg

 

The two women centre (one with face mask and the other with the pink top) spend every evening frying the pancakes. The two women on the left handle the vegetation and drinks while the two men distribute the pancakes and deal with the cash. They were all, like most Vietnamese in  my experience, very friendly.

 

The half obscured man in the blue shirt saw me trying to access the internet on my cell phone and immediately offered to connect me to his password protected free wi-fi. Everywhere in HCMC has free wi-fi, even the local buses.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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This is really interesting. Those banh xeo look like the ones we had in Hoi An and Hue - even the murky and delicious dipping sauce (I think also had pork liver) and thin rice papers for wrapping, and green mango as an addition.  I had always read that the banh xeo in Saigon were larger, not as crispy, and were not served with the thick dipping sauce, but more of a nuoc cham, and without the rice papers for wrapping - instead they used very large mustard leaves and a huge bush of many different herbs, but no green mango.

 

So I'd be curious if that banh xeo place does it in the Central Vietnam way = sort of like how banh cuon is a dish from the North originally, but now there are a few places in Saigon that do it.  The locals may like it because it is a change of pace from the typical version (as well as being really tasty)...

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13 minutes ago, KennethT said:

banh cuon is a dish from the North originally, but now there are a few places in Saigon that do it. 

 

I'd say more than a few places. I saw it everywhere - restaurants and street carts. I also saw crispy bánh xèo in other places I ate, although I didn't try them. It wouldn't surprise me if HCMC has taken on regional favourites; after all it is a very cosmopolitan, international city.  I saw restaurants from all over although, other than Vietnamese, only ate in the Italian one (which is actually Malaysian owned).

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Next day, I decided to explore markets. I had visited the famous Bến Thành Market on my previous visits decades earlier, but a few friends urged me to check it out again.

 

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I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are the sort of person who likes being hassled by hundreds of people trying to sell you over-priced (no matter how hard you bargain) tourist tat, while being simultaneously harassed by people wanting to clean your shoes, sell you over-priced iced chilled coconuts and drive you on their motor cycles the long way round to some other tourist trap. I  hated the place with a vengeance. 99% of what's being offered is garbage you can buy much cheaper anywhere else. Only 1%, shoved into a corner is what remains of the larger food market I remember. Here are a few of the rather sad stalls.

 

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Er. that's it.

 

Nearby is this:

 

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It may be authentic, and it didn't look bad but again was a lot more expensive than you can get just yards away.

 

Instead,  I headed back to my hotel area and explored a couple of the local markets far from tourist land. I say markets, but some are just a couple of street side vendors, some have hole-in-the-wall premises and some are more organised into markets. They all sell food, clothing household items etc. I didn't see a food only market although most had a lot more than the 1% in Bến Thành.

 

In random order as I strolled around.

 

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Rice, grains etc.

 

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Dried Fish and Vegetables

 

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More Seafood

 

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Who needs a stall? Use your motorcycle.

 

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Flower Girls

 

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Even More Seafood

 

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Baskets

 

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Girls selling Girl Stuff and having fun.

 

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The Beef Butchers

 

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I do like those tiny white Vietnamese eggplants/aubergines

 

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Hoping to catch passing trade. She is selling green mangos.

 

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Another green mango stall. Mắm Ruốc is Vietnamese fish sauce which is also on her cart in the red topped jars.

 

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Another rice place.

 

I also took some time to visit the local supermarkets and a very special luxury food store. Coming soon, once I get time to sort out the pictures.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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I thought the same thing about Ben Thanh... I wouldn't go back if you paid me to!  We've never been so aggressively hawked/harassed as we were there.  Loved the shots of the other stalls though.  Your photos are bringing me back... I appreciate your effort in posting them!

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The supermarket was 90% the same as in China, but  I did see a few (to me) oddities. But first the supermarket.

 

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Oddities:

 

Vegetation

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Fish20180425_191419.thumb.jpg.e349fd69246d35b60d63e68c7c8a3d90.jpg

 

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Thịt hến - Mussel Meat

 

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ốc bưu thịt - snail meat

 

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nhộng - pupae

 

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and, of course, the ubiquitous fish sauce.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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All that window shopping make you hungry?

 

OK. I spotted this place very near the Independence Palace. Quán Ngon 138. (Quán ngon means delicious food - 138 is the address)

 

IMG_7822.thumb.jpg.4518e45bb5636be3deef591ff969977e.jpg

 

The lovely young lady gave me such a beautiful smile and giggled when I took the picture. OK, I'm a sucker, but I looked at their menu and it was very appealing and not at all expensive considering the beautiful ambience and that it is in the heart of the tourist district.

 

Reader,  I bit!

 

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I ordered gỏi cuốn + chả giò hải sản + chả giò Ngon + chả giò Truyền thông + gỏi xoài tôm khô

 

fresh spring rolls with prawn and pork + deep fried spring rolls (seafood, special Ngon style, Traditional Vietnamese) + Green mango salad with dried shrimp. Plus the usual heap of greens. And a beer.

 

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Very good. They lived up to their name and were all very friendly.

 

Here are their details.  I went to the first branch.

 

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Edited by liuzhou
The menu was appealing; not me! (log)
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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

The supermarket was 90% the same as in China, but  I did see a few (to me) oddities. But first the supermarket.

 

20180425_193501.thumb.jpg.c28abe82397d001343ed6a04c47c355f.jpg

 

Oddities:

 

Vegetation

20180425_191625.thumb.jpg.9d408923c10f82f6ffcb7bbec0e216c0.jpg

 

20180425_191700.thumb.jpg.b0e0962dc32d227a873c78d18f1bb1df.jpg

 

20180425_191709.thumb.jpg.49b2396f4fed6ec411e99ca9325d47c7.jpg

 

Fish20180425_191419.thumb.jpg.e349fd69246d35b60d63e68c7c8a3d90.jpg

 

20180425_191541.thumb.jpg.a173b27866a7f6ca35c092d8dbb81f42.jpg

 

20180425_191551.thumb.jpg.584f290d920e0c9dea6cccee6971bc89.jpg

 

20180426_155736.thumb.jpg.715d7d857fc79cc18dc829f97ef3a6cf.jpg

 

20180426_160557.thumb.jpg.1aeec7e000f37d593447331ef346fad2.jpg

Thịt hến - Mussel Meat

 

20180426_160545.thumb.jpg.3378ced0a491ae17fd4406bd13e4ffc7.jpg

ốc bưu thịt - snail meat

 

20180426_155823.thumb.jpg.9fd9a5622b130c1a19adebc2f664f442.jpg

nhộng - pupae

 

20180425_191957.jpg

and, of course, the ubiquitous fish sauce.

 

 

Pupae?

 

Edited by JoNorvelleWalker
Dyslexia (log)
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30 minutes ago, heidih said:

The spring roll with the lacy roiugher wrapper is interesting. Do you know what wrapper was? 

 

 

I'm not entirely sure, but I guessed a type of deep fried rice paper. It was very crisp. That is the one described as chả giò Ngon  or special Ngon style - i.e. something exclusive to that restaurant, Ngon being its name, but also meaning "Tasty", which it was.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Well I've eaten and made enough of them with rice paper to think it was something else. Some digging found a unique Hue style that wras the filling in very thin rice noodles and then fries. The images look like yours. What do you think?

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16 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yes then. Pupae. Of what,  I don't know. Probably silk worm, though.

 

I had it in bibimbap in Korea but called it larvae while describing it to my (petrified) friends ;)

 

 

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I've had them, along with fried crickets and meal worms as a snack in Thailand. They're actually quite tasty, but with a bit of a bitter aftertaste... not bad as a beer snack though.

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3 hours ago, KennethT said:

I've had them, along with fried crickets and meal worms as a snack in Thailand. They're actually quite tasty, but with a bit of a bitter aftertaste... not bad as a beer snack though.

 

Sounds like an awful lot of beer.

 

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      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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