Took the weekend off to go for a holiday. Destination: Ho Chin Minh. On a Friday afternoon, we made our way to the budget terminal to board on Tiger Airways to go to the proverbial land that Anthony Bourdain covets. And I have to admit, this trip was solely a food trip. And the name of the dish: Cha cha la vong.
Can't blame us for having a craving for this dish, it's so popular, even the restaurant is named after it. We had it in Hanoi once; the thick yellow oil, the condiments, multiple groups of people eating in the same restaurant sharing the same table eating the same dish. It was like we were family. We became part of the Vietnamese community, just pouring in the savoury oil into our belly without considering what it did to our arteries. We just had to try it again.
But sadly, this time, it was different. Ho Chin Minh, being THE city, was much more mordenised that it's counterparts. The thick yellow oil was cut to just a small coat on the fish, and where we mingled with locals and sat on wooden stools, we now had a whole table to ourselves. The fish tasted the same, but somehow, the gravy, condiments and overall feel was just different.
Oh well, instead of 3 days of Cha cha la vong as we had planned, we ended up trying out the more common dishes in Vietnamese cuisine... Like this Pho.
Tastes great with the onion soup which somehow reminded me of the mee soto at Rendang Corner. But being city kids with weak bowels, we skipped most of the squatting food. Like the restaurant, 'Trang', which we were searching high and low for, and found out that the squatting area in front of our hotel, which we decided from the start that we would never patronise, was indeed 'Trang'. And those stalls with aunties cookie Pho along the streets. Couldn't help noticing her removing a rock from under a table, and then taking noodles with the same hand to cook for the next customer.
And well, if you do wish to travel around and sight see, you'd probably be reminded a lot about the Vietnam War, or as the locals put it, the American War. City tours would land you in one of these war museums. And though I graphically screened off all the gory details (this being a PG blog and all), I couldn't help but feel like I was in another scene of Black Hawk Down.
Perhaps the adults and the early teens still have a problem letting go of the past. And mentions of Clinton's visit does little to help. But the kids sure have gotten over it.
These, by the way, are probably kids in school uniform. Or some army regime.
Enough of Vietnam food. We spent the night having Shabu Shabu at Gyu Jin. Nothing like nice thin slices of beef and some lemon soda. We tried our best to finish up the beef, and at the last piece, gave out a sigh of relief. The lady cleared the plate, marking our victory over the dish. And then returned with another full plate of beef.
And no, we didn't just eat for three and a half days. We went for a city tour, and a visit to the Chu Chi tunnels, with this picture as proof that I crawled the full length of the 100m tunnel. Even though this was the exit at the 1st 10m interval.
Ok, it wasn't supposed to be a stressful trip. And trips are about fun and enjoyment. Like this nice cup of Vietnamese Coffee.
Have to admit though, that this bowl of beef stew, which we had at a restaurant called Pao at Bui Vien St, was delightedly wonderful. With nice soft crusty bread and a stew made in heaven.
Yes, I do think I should cut down on watching foodie shows. Too much Bourdain and Sa Sa affects even the blog posts.