I think it is true to say that you can learn a lot about the culture of a country by its food and as someone who enjoys food and cooking, the opportunity to go on a guided tour of street food vendors was to good to miss and to see and taste the kind of food many ordinary Vietnamese would eat day to day.
We were warned to turn up with empty stomachs and after the first three dishes I was glad I had as this kind of sampling soon has the desired effect and I was struggling towards the end of the tour.
The first dish was a combination of caramelised chili beef, that's the black stuff you can see in the bowl, mixed in with strips of fried rice paper. This was my second favourite dish of the night.
The caramelised beef had the texture of liquorice, but with a great beefy spicy taste that just made the dish as a whole.
|Banh Trang Tron (Spicy Stirred Rice Paper Salad)|
|Banh Tai Vac (Tapioca Shrimp Dumpling)|
The pancakes got the thumbs up from our group, very nice and definitely recommended.
|My Favourite -Banh Xeo (Seafood Pancakes)|
|Tom liked the Seafood Pancakes dipped in a fish broth - mmm very good|
The noodles in Vietnam are great and I really enjoy their light texture which really adds to the local cuisine and I liked the noodle broth, ranking it third in my listing.
|Local Favourite - Banh Canh (Rice Noodle Soup)|
These were great hot off the griddle iron, but I have to say I was struggling at this stage. I ranked this dish after the noodles but it was close and I reckon these are a great snack with a few beers in tow.
|Banh Can (Barbecue Rice Paper with Egg)|
To each little pot of batter was added a beaten raw egg and allowed to cook before two of the cakes were warmed though together in the same little pot.
The little cakes had the consistency of what we Brits would describe as a crumpet, something we would toast over an open fire or on the grill with butter to finish.
|Banh Trang Nuong (Egg and Rice Cakes)|
And finally, some would call the Durian fruit the Marmite of fruits; you either love them or hate them.
We were due to finish our tour trying Che Chuoi Nuong (Banana and Sticky Rice Pudding), but the Durian came up in conversation as apparently, in some places, you are not allowed to eat this thing in public because so many people find the smell, let alone the taste so offensive.
Needless to say on our way through the market we made a beeline for this item and after getting the market vendor to confirm the one selected was ripe and edible, we took it back to the restaurant to try.
It does indeed have a sickly pungent smell, but I have to say both Will and I found it ok if not something we would order up again; Carolyn, Georgia and Tom on the other hand found the yellow creamy flesh absolutely disgusting and turned their noses up at its approach
|The Durian, "Marmite" fruit of fruits gets checked for its quality pre-purchase in the street market|
|Arriving at the market in three wheeled cyclos|
|The variety of spices, fresh vegetables, meat and fish are a feast for the eye in the local market|
|Being a coastal resort the choice and quality of the fish was fantastic|
|Raw sugarcane used to prepare the sugarcane iced juice that refreshed and cooled us on our way round the market|
|Many of the fresh fruit and vegetables are not seen at home so it was great to have a guide to show what was available and to be able to sample the produce there and then|
|The Hot Pot ingredients are brought together to marinade|
|The example of Pork/Prawn Rice Paper Rolls|
|The team attempts to maintain the standard|
Then we got the hot pot on to the cooker for another fifteen minutes while our hosts prepared the rice and vegetables to accompany it.
|The Hot Pot just off the cooker with spring onion added|
|Pork Hot Pot served up with boiled rice and green veg|
|And to finish JJ's Banana flambe using local banana rum served up with an |
orange juice sauce and coconut ice cream - perfect