My Vietnamese friend, Trinh invited me to his house for dinner, and knowing that I am some sort of an explorer when it comes to food, he got his wife to prepare one of the more interesting dishes I’ve had recently. Fried bee’s pupae!
don’t they look lovely?
The dish is prepared by frying the pupae lightly with minimal seasoning, looks to me that only oil and some shallots was used. My friend told me that there are many ways the dish is prepared. As you bite this strange looking creature, the liquid interior of the insect bursts in your mouth, the texture is certainly interesting. However, to be honest, the taste is rather blunt, I think a stronger seasoning might help.
very good Vietnamese hospitality
My Vietnamese friend’s house is quite narrow and short in Malaysian standard, but in the city of 7 million, land is pretty expensive. This particular house is slightly less than 3 meters in width, and probably some 10 meters in depth. It was a pretty interesting experience.
Updates will be sparse these few days as I am traveling on assignment at Ho Chi Minh City again. This time around I surely will try more interesting food. So far I’ve tried fried bee larva (will post on that soon), lets see what I manage to get in the next few days!
The reason this blog hasn’t been updated for the past few days is a sound one. I was at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam again, and the hotel wanted to charge something like US $17 per day for internet access, I guess I could live without going online for a few days. I had the chance to walk around the city a bit and take a few pictures from the street.
not going to school
There are still many under privileged children in this city, selling various items such as chewing gums, or like in this case, providing a shoe shining service.
buy from me?
This lady kept asking me to buy a coconut from her. I had no idea how much one would cost, and she doesn’t speak English either.
i want a bike
It seems like this guy, who appears to be a rat trapper, would very much love to be able to own a motorbike one day. Ho Chi Minh City has a very high concentration of motorbikes, pretty much like Penang in the 80s, except maybe 5x as busy.
A white lady is trying to figure out what’s for breakfast. I guess it wasn’t too attractive as she just walked past the mobile restaurant. You can find these sort of hawkers all over HCMC.
Just before heading to SGN airport coming back to Malaysia during the last trip at HCMC, I decided to have some Japanese food instead of traditional Vietnamese Food. Instead of catching a cab, I just started to walk down the busy Hai Ba Trung Street to check out the numerous Japanese restaurant around the city.
Angler Fish Liver and Sashimi
After passing a handful of Japanese restaurants that are either too expensive or offering only a limited menu, I decided to go into Akatonbo as the menu displayed outside the door looks enticing, and reasonably priced as well.
After scanning through the rather extensive menu, I ordered a sashimi set and a serving of ankimo (Angler fish liver).
very extensive menu
The sashimi, consisting of salmon, tuna, squid, octopus tentacles, and two other types of fish, were very fresh and properly cut. Though the serving was somewhat small and rice were not included, it was still pretty good. The Angler fish liver, though, was quite interesting. I had actually wanted to order it at Zen sushi at Subang Jaya once but it was a seasonal offering and they had run out of it, so this was actually the first time I tasted this Japanese delicacy. The texture of the liver is similar to pickled tofu, but slightly tougher, it has a rich and fatty taste to it, often described to be similar to foie gras. It was really good, and served exactly like how it’s meant to.
More on Ankimo:
The liver is first rubbed with salt, then rinsed with sake. Then its veins are picked out and the liver is rolled into a cylinder and steamed. Ankimo is often served with chili-tinted grated daikon radish, thinly sliced green onions and ponzu sauce.
Akatonbo restaurant is at the heart of District 1, HCMC
The total damage was less than $14 USD (less than RM 50). Pretty good value for the interesting Ankimo and the good quality sashmi. Yogurt is served after the meal too, a pretty good concept that no Japanese restaurants in Malaysia that I am aware of follows.
38 Hai Ba Trung Street,
District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
After the interesting grilled frog at my favorite foreign city, I headed to a Vietnamese seafood restaurant for dinner the following night. At the heart of the city, the Hong Hai (pronounced as 红海, or red sea, in Mandarin) restaurant is not particularly lavish nor it is very eye catching. However, judging by the crowd of locals congregating at this place, it must offer some pretty good and authentic seafood.
fresh fish, shrimps, and various types of clam
The restaurant was quite packed, but luckily we managed to secure a table at the balcony on the second level. My friend made the order as I would have no idea how to go about reading the 100% Vietnamese menu, with no translation nor any pictures. I doubt any of the servers speak English either.
three types of clam, including cockle (blood clam)
The first four dishes that came consists of the various types of clam. The boiled cockles (I think) were very delicious, and goes extremely well with the fried garlic (including skin) and vegetable garnish. The fresh and somewhat bloody cockles with the slightly salty but strong tasting garlic was just perfect. A salt + dried pepper + dried plum + lime dipping sauce accompany the dishes.
We also had a grilled clam and a plum sauce clam dishes. While the grilled clam is best enjoyed with the dipping, the plum sauce actually goes well with some bread. Pretty interesting contrasting taste among these three dishes, the bloody cockles, the dry grilled clam, and the sourish plum sauce clam.
oyster with cheese, and a great tasting hot pot with eel
Next in line were the two huge oyster with cheese. Though this dish isn’t something that is unique to this part of the world, the oyster served were the size of my palm. Needless to say, you can guess if I enjoyed it from the photo above.
Other than all the shell fish dishes, we ordered a hot pot with eel. As with most Vietnamese dishes, the pot came with a huge serving of vegetable consisting spring onion, bean sprout, okra, and interestingly, shredded banana flower, all arranged in a neat and pretty presentation. The soup tasted a little spicy and salty, but compliment the vermicelli noodle and the fresh vegetables. It was a very good dinner.
Pham Ngoc Thach road is located at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City
Hong Hai is located at the heart of the city, not more than US $2 taxi ride away from any major hotels in District 1. The dinner itself was somewhere around RM 50-60, value for money indeed.
Updated 22/10/2010: moved to 236 Pasteur, district 3, HCMC
54, Pham Ngoc Thach,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 8.292977, 0908-103547