If there is one thing which puts me off about South East Asia, is its humidity. I don’t mind the heat here in Sydney, it’s the dry sort of heat which you can get away from if you hide in the shade. But the heat in Singapore and Vietnam is ridiculous. The humidity stays with you the whole day, making you want to jump in a pool until your skin turns into what Mr Burns has or seek refuge in an air conditioned haven. It makes eating on the street rather interesting for me. I’m the type of person who sweats a lot, especially in humidity. I’m the guy who has a head emitting of steam after a soccer training session in the middle of a winters night when it is less than 5 degrees celcius and I’m also the guy who needs to carry a towel with himself when he eats on the streets of Vietnam.
I found the noodle stalls most intriguing. With the majority of the population riding motorbikes, I wonder how they get those massive pots in the first picture to their little stalls ? Also, I wonder how they manage to get the same spot on the street every day ? Surely someone can just rock up and set up shop, unless there is a common sense policy in place. Either way it was great to see that most shops have a simple set up. It’s usually one or two massive pots of broth and little containers of noodles, herbs and vegetables and condiments. If they run out of broth then they close up shop, business is done for the day.
The dish you see there is Bún riêu. There are various versions but the one we had was the crab version. Bún riêu has a tomato based broth and an intense shrimp paste taste as well. I couldn’t believe how intense the colours looked compared to what we have here in Sydney which pales in comparison.
I found that a lot of spring rolls in Vietnam were made with rice paper rather than pastry. This gives us a unique crisp texture and a bit more crunch. The last photo up there was a common ritual for us every day. I would’ve drank 3 or 4 cups of Vietnamese coffee per day, it was so bloody good but what we have here in Cabramatta isn’t too far behind in taste. I use to drink the milk version cafe sua da but now I’m hooked on the black version, cafe da.
We spotted this street side durian stall in the outdoor market in Nha Trang. There was a lady wearing funky socks (in 35 degree heat) selling them by weight and even cutting them into pieces for us. We’re not sure where this durian was grown, but it was fresh, none of the frozen stuff you see a lot in Sydney.
This type of dish is not commonly served in Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, but it’s one of my favourites. It’s soup base is pork and fish, with it’s unique pungent smell possibly coming from either fermented prawn paste or fermented fish. Vermicelli noodles are surrounded by trips of roast pork, prawns and an array of fresh herbs. I tell you what, the textures in this dish are amazing. Every couple of slurps you’ll be welcomed by a crunch from the roast pork crackle.
A week wasn’t long enough to visit Vietnam, I’d really like to travel to the North the next time I visit. Everytime I visit, the country seems to be changing. However the one thing that hasn’t changed is the street food. The best bang for buck in the world ? Possibly.