Because I’m full of wind and can’t control myself, I divided this too long post into two parts. See the first part here if you missed it.
Eating Like a Local – Hole in the Wall Restaurant
After a hot and frustrating morning in an almost futile attempt to solve our money woes, we followed our maps.me app (a great little app that does not need wi-fi) to a restaurant clearly marked as Vietnamese. Once we crossed the street, we actually passed on the little hole in the wall shop. It was at the front of a small alley and had one long table beside the small open kitchen. The menu board was in Vietnamese and offered five choices, one of which was bia (beer).
Too adventurous maybe. It was only our second day after all and we still didn’t know if there’d be consequences from the previous night.
Hannah changed it with a snappish bit of frustration over our indecision. So in we went. We barely made it as the little joint was closing at 1 p.m. following their lunch rush. Apparently we had two choices – small pho or regular pho. Sitting directly beside the open kitchen, we watched as a young man made our delicious soup in a basic but sanitary cooking area. It was super delicious and pretty cool to be eating like a local (160,000 VND for five pho and two bia).
Somehow while we were dining, I missed the motorcycle driving through the four feet of space left in the alleyway. Hannah’s eyes may be a little damaged because she rolled them hard at my oblivion. I could ask her where the photo is.
I would so return to this little alley restaurant. Excellent pho, clean and no consequences. And I appreciate an easy decision so the five menu items were perfect. Food prepped right beside us. I’m quite pleased with myself even though it wasn’t my idea. Thanks Hannah.
Our Staple – Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
Not so adventurous but local and delicious….
InEdible Animal Parts
We ate pig’s ear.
I have no pictures to prove it. You’ll just have to believe me. Hannah describes it well… just as you’d imagine chewing on an ear, cartilage and all. I don’t know what we were thinking.
Well, I do…
The helpful staff at the Hanoian Hotel where we stayed three nights, recommended a specific restaurant. I asked if it had Vietnamese cuisine and was told “well, it’s for tourists”. Why do they do that?!
When we got to the Vietnamese restaurant he decided was safe enough for us, it had a long line that wasn’t moving. Though a long line is a good sign, most of the patrons were tourists so we decided to pass. I paused at the entrance two doors down to see what they had on offer. A young Vietnamese diner and her group of friends were sitting on small plastic chairs inside enjoying some meat, rice wraps and a wonderful mound of herbs.
She teased in almost perfect english, “would you like some pig ears wrapped in rice wraps?” and gestured to the plate in front of her.
She was making fun of me.
Up for the challenge, I made everyone sit down. Everyone being Hannah and Rob (Emma succumbed to a cold and Ben was keeping her company). Suitably impressed, the young Hanoian helped us order. Pigs ears of course, a beef and noodle dish, and a mango beef salad.
To our surprise (and the Hanoian’s) the noodle dish came from the adjacent restaurant. Both it and the mango salad were delicious and I would have liked more. I did enjoy the pig’s ear. Initially. Until Hannah couldn’t help but describe the texture of an ear.
That was it for me.
I’m still in for more eating adventures. But I’ll pass on future pig ears. And pig belly. And that Mekong fish thing. It was all tasty. But they just don’t seem like edible food parts to me.
I’ve promised myself to try local foods and new things, even if they’re weird. I’ve eaten termites in Dominican Republic (peppery). I’m going to try chili-lime grasshoppers in Mexico. Fortunately we’re not going to the Philippines this trip because they like animal eyeballs in their soup (I don’t like things that pop when you bite into them and like that’s the only reason I’m happy to pass on it).
Cambodia has fried tarantula. I do plan to try it though I’m not sure how to deal with the hairy parts.
What questionable animal parts have you eaten?