Sunday, 8 June 2014

Our experience with Vietnamese food

I need a little interlude to feature something about the food our family ate during our recent holiday in Vietnam. I won't say much other than letting the pictures do most of the talking.

Firstly, this is, of course, AirAsia's much vaunted Pak Nasser's nasi lemak. Okay, so this is not Vietnamese food, but our journey started with it. My verdict: it's edible and perhaps a wee bit tastier than Malaysia Airlines' version which I ate during a trip to Hong Kong in March. Must be the sugar in the curry.

This is the Sen Restaurant at the northern reach of the Hồ Tây (Ho Tay, or West Lake). The buffet spread there was enormously varied and the restaurant was full of patrons when we had our lunch there. A very popular place by all counts. BTW, the grill section was a revelation.

Here's how the Sen Hồ Tây looked like from the inside.

The menu of the Le Tonkin Restaurant where we had our dinner on the first day of our vacation. It struck me suddenly during dinner that the Americans had engaged in some skirmishes with the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin incident (Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ) in 1964. Foodwise, we couldn't complain as this was our first experience at the Vietnamese course dinner.

This was breakfast at the Hotel Gondola where we stayed. Despite the simple fare, I must say that the food was Excellent, spelt with a Capital E.

To me, this was a nameless restaurant halfway between the Chùa Bái Đính (Bái Đính Temple) and Tràng An. It shall remain nameless and anonymous. This was a simple lunch which we struggled through in silence because the meat (first time described to us as their "walking chicken" and "walking goat") was Tough. Yes, tough as spelt with a Capital T. Tough and rather bland without dipping the pieces in their sauces. Want to see how the meat looked like?

Here they are....

This is the front of the Chả Cá Thăng Long Restaurant which serves nothing else but Cha Ca (Vietnamese-style fish with turmeric and dill).

The meat is of the snakehead fish. First marinaded with turmeric, then grilled within their kitchen before finally brought out to be fried at the table. Good experience. The dish is served with tons of fresh dill, other herbs, peanuts and rice noodles. Verdict: good and affordable, about USD10 per person.

Minced crab meat restuffed into their shells.

Fish fillet.

Definitely not seafood, unless their pigs can swim.

Just a sample of the seafood that were served to us on board the V Spirit cruise boat during our overnight visit to Vịnh Hạ Long (Hạ Long Bay). The seafood was fresh, very fresh. My only beef with the cruise boat operator was that we were given only a fixed number of pieces. We couldn't ask for extras.

And back in Hanoi, we had a most memorable crab-filled springroll at the Little Hanoi Restaurant. Darn, should have ordered more than a plate. They were really good.

We can't be going to Hanoi without sitting by the roadside and enjoying their Vietnamese coffee and an unknown sweet dessert, can we? This unknown dessert, well, it was just about rock hard, seeing that it was coated with a layer of dried melted sugar. It wasn't really very nice.

Or enjoying yet more fried springrolls in their little cafes....

Anyway, we decided to have lunch at the shop right beside the Gondola Hotel. We had been eyeing the food since arrival. Now was the time to tuck in and enjoy!

The famous Phở Gà (chicken noodle soup) which rounded up our food adventure in Vietnam.

Back to familiarity. On the return flight to Kuala Lumpur, we decided to order AirAsia's Uncle Chin chicken rice instead of the nasi lemak. Nothing really special about this dish except to say that the rice was nicely cooked and fragrant.

No comments: