Day 39, South East Asia, March – May 2013
Day 19, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
I first heard about this small, family run restaurant 2 years ago yet I was not able to try their food due to TET; Vietnam’s New Year celebration where places shut down for weeks at time. Coming back to Vietnam this time, I made note to try the food at this restaurant so I can put a closure to my 2 year’s culinary curiosity.
The restaurant offer both Hue’s specialty and porridge/congee. As in the west, porridge (or chao’, in Vietnamese) is a poor man’s meal and usually made out of very basic ingredients. During this visit, I wanted to try the popular Hue’s specialty of the house but they ran out of almost everything, except for the bánh bèo (bahn bell). For a more detail write up of this dish from the region of Hue, bánh bèo (bahn bell), see my past article here. These type of dishes are what we in the West call antipasto/appetizers/tapas where you eat to get your appetite going first, not necessarily filled your hunger.
This bánh bèo (bahn bell) platter came with 9 (or more depending on the restaurant) pipping hot plates of the steamed bánh bèo (bahn bell), topped with freshly boiled but grounded shrimps and chopped chicharon (fried pork skin). The Southern style usually served with similar flour based but came with the grounded but pungent dried shrimp and may have mashed steamed mung beans garnishment. To eat, you would drizzle on the sweet and sour fish sauce dressing over the top of the bánh bèo (bahn bell) and scoop it away. As an insider’s joke, we sometimes would stack our plates to see who ate the most and get a prize accordingly (pick up the tab, pay for dessert, etc…)
Next, we called for a bowl of Pandan leaf infused porridge to eat with Vietnamese pickled cucumber (dưa mắm) and caramel goby fishes (cá bống kho). I have ate other type of flavor infused porridge from Western style to Eastern style and in baking and sticky rice dishes but this is the first time I have Pandan leaf infused porridge. It was a little bland if eaten by itself as it’s nothing extraordinary from the usual plain porridge except for the infused flavor of Pandan.
To my surprise it paired really well with the Vietnamese pickled cucumber (dưa mắm) and caramel goby fishes (cá bống kho). I am not a fan of tiny fishes like the Goby fishes because of the bones. However, I did have one bite of the Goby fish to taste test the dish just to find out how well the 2 side dishes complement the Pandan infused porridge. Since I am not a fan of tiny fishes, I catch myself chowing down most of the Vietnamese pickled cucumber (dưa mắm) side dish with the Pandan infused porridge.
Although simple, yet can be hearty and made an excellence morning or late night super dish. This is something I can definitely add to my recipe box upon returning home to the USA.
Location: 55B Nguyễn Chí Thanh street
Đà Nẵng, Việtnam
Cost: really inexpensive. Under $5 USD equivalent for the above meal.