Been a long day, after lengthy discussion at the office, hosts asked us what we would like for dinner, something local, we replied. Then this was followed by long and animated discussion among our two hosts.
After weaving through the sea of motorbikes , we stepped down from the van, walked though an alley , and wow, a traditional Chinese double storey wooden bungalow. The place is done up really well, big water jars , wood carvings, marble topped tables, plagues with Chinese calligraphy in mother of pearls, pretty lights…
We were lazy to walk up the wooden stairs, so opted to sit at a private corner alcove on the ground floor
The restaurant serves food from the 3 regions : north, central and south, the menu was like a flip chart thingy separated into 3 parts. While waiting for the food to arrive, the guys had the local Saigon beer (the other local beer is 333 ) . I had a Ciku drink, nice..sweet and ciku-ish !
Steamed rice tart :- this is like the steamed rice flour thingy with dried shrimps and dry shallots that we get back in Malaysia, except that in M’sia the rice flour part is a much bigger portion compared to the tasty bits, for this Vietnamese version, the rice flour portion is a much thinner portion. The rice flour was smooth and the shrimp and pork bits were tasty, there were some crunchy brownish thingy too, initially I thought this was the chue- yau-char ( lard bits) but host mentioned that these were bread lahh
Huy pork sausage – was expecting something longish and sausage looking rather than these triangular shaped parts. The sausage had strong taste of garlic and pepper , it was crunchy fish paste-ish consistency with a rough-ish ( rough in a nice way) texture. Nice..
Waiter came by and announced that they were out of sparrows, so, no fried sparrows for us tonight..ho hum..we ordered some vegetable as a replacement after someone at the table reminded us that we hadn’t ordered any greens..
Stuffed snails :- there was an appendage that went around the stuffing, and one only have to give a slight tug and the meaty stuff can be removed from the shell.
A bowl of ‘’leaves” came with the snails, you are suppose to take a piece of lettuce and wrapped this around the snail ( minus the shell lah). And then dip this into a sauce ( ginger plus some vinegar and soy sauce, I think). I felt my teeth sinking easily passed the lettuce, then the minced pork and then the more chewy snail meat.Interesting…hmm..delicious…
Glass noodles with eel : the other options where either prawns or pork, I guess eel sounds more exotic. This dish came with pieces of crunchy rice biscuits / batter (each about the size of my palm) . Scoop some glass noodles + eel onto a corner of the ‘biscuit’ and bite elegantly without having too many crumbs falling all over the table. The noodles were soft and succulent with gravy but can’t say I taste anything out of the eel though, maybe the ratio of noodles to eel was a bit too great in favor of the noodles. Still it was pretty tasty.
Fried sticky rice – this was crunchy , chewy and slightly sweet, but could feel oil oozing out of the bits that I was chewing, a bit too oily for my liking.
Lotus flower salad – when the dish arrived, it looked like the Thai mango salad ( jam makmuang) this didn’t have the sweet/sour/spicy of the mango salad but rather flavoured with something like fish paste /soya sauce. The ingredients include :celery, onions, carrot, prawns, coriander, fine roots of the lotus plant ( not lotus root) and coarsely chopped roasted peanuts. They also served some keropok ( crackers) with this dish.
An interesting and enjoyable meal and we get to enjoy the local specialties from the 3 regions. Top marks for the ambiance and decorations.
122B Tran Quoc Thao,
Q.3, TP, HCM
Tel : (84.08) 9317096