Archive for the 'Da Nang' Category

Thạch

This my friends, is what I call Vietnamese Jello. The technical name is thạch, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like J-E-L-L-O. It’s a light dessert made of water, sugar, agar and a variety of flavorings including coconut milk, coffee and pandan leaves.

This particular version was made by the Golden Sea Hotel (a fantastic place to stay if you’re ever in Da Nang). The thạch was served at the hotel’s sumptuous breakfast buffet, which was prepared each morning for guests. What’s most notable about the Golden Sea’s thạch is the number of layers it contains—eight!

My Aunt Phuong and I made some thạch this past summer and encountered difficulty with the layers not adhering properly due to poor timing. Since we had trouble working with only three layers, I was quite impressed with the hotel’s eight layer execution.

Look at those beautiful layers—the white ones are coconut, the lime green one is pandan, the tan ones are condensed milk and coffee, the dark brown one is plain coffee and the orange one is gac fruit (I think). Eaten together, I find it impossible to differentiate between each individual flavor; it just tastes sweet, refreshing and gelatin-y!

Mì Quảng – Da Nang

November 2, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese

1A Hai Phong Street
Da Nang, Vietnam

Phone: 0511827936
Website: none

Mi Quang Thit (11,000 VND)

Mi Quang Tom (11,000 VND)

Mi Quang Ga (15,000 VND)

Mi quang is to Da Nang as deep-dish pizza is to Chicago.

If the SAT’s had more analogies like the one above, I would have scored much higher than 1170. Somehow, even with the boring analogies, The Astronomer managed to score a cool 1570. Genius!

The Astronomer and I were only in Da Nang for a day the other week, but we made sure to pencil in a little mi quang action. We dined at Mi Quang 1A based on a recommendation from our friend Cathy before catching our flight back to Saigon. The restaurant was large, lit in fluorescent lights and laid-back. Pajamas? Check. Kung Fu movie? Check.

The eatery offers three different types of mi quang—shrimp, pork, and chicken. We ordered a bowl of each; I had the shrimp, while The Astronomer went for a bowl of pork and a bowl of chicken.

I’ve covered the ins and outs of this dish before and was really impressed with 1A’s execution. Even though they replaced my beloved sesame cracker with a shrimp chip, the mi quang tom was a fabulous bowl of noodles. Whereas the mi quang in Saigon and San Diego contain a plethora of meats mixed together, 1A compartmentalizes each one. However, the broth is the same regardless of the meat of choice.

This was The Astronomer’s first time sampling the classic Da Nang dish and he had a look of utter bliss on his face as he polished off his two bowls. He commented that the broth was perfectly subtle and yet flavorful, kind of like Hue’s com hen dish. He preferred the pork rendition over the chicken because bones are difficult to deal with in a noodle soup.

Since our return home to Saigon, The Astronomer has eaten a number of bowls of mi quang from a few different establishments to see how they measure up to Da Nang’s. Thus far, he has yet to encounter a product as fine as Mi Quang 1A’s.

Dai Duong – Da Nang

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September 2, 2007
Cuisine: Seafood, Vietnamese

Bai Tam My Khe
Da Nang, Vietnam

Phone: 0511940989
Website: none

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Grilled Clams with Scallions, Tomatoes, Onions (35,000 VND)

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Lemongrass Snails (40,000 VND)

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Thin Egg Noodles with Squid, Tomatoes, and Spinach (40,000 VND)

Before flying back to Saigon, The Astronomer and I had a dinner date with Cathy. She took us to her favorite seafood eatery located yards away from Da Nang’s China Beach. The view and food at Dai Duong were both stellar. It doesn’t get any fresher than eating seafood by the sea.

Cathy recommended that we order the grilled clams. She had them once prior and found them delightful. The clams were smothered with sautéed onions, scallions and tomatoes, which brought about subtle flavors that didn’t drown out the clams’ natural goodness—another excellent call by Cathy.

I initially ordered an eel dish, but the restaurant was fresh out. I opted instead for snails. The snails were de-shelled, humongous, and seasoned with deliciously long strands of lemongrass. While some may find the texture of snails overly chewy, I really dig it. The snails were The Astronomer’s and my favorite dish of the evening.

For the carbohydrate portion of our meal, we had steamed white rice and a plate of stir fried noodles. The noodles were a bit on the mushy side, but the tomatoes and squid delivered a double punch that saved the dish.

Buddha Bay – Da Nang

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August 30, 2007
Cuisine: Seafood, Vietnamese

Buddha Bay
Da Nang, Vietnam

Phone: 0511920388

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Goi Buoi Muc – pomelo and squid salad (80,000 VND)

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Ca Hap Hanh Gung – steamed fish with ginger and onions (252,000 VND)

While vacationing in Da Nang, The Astronomer and I took our hotel’s tandem bike for a spin up Monkey Mountain. Even though the bike was made for a vertically-challenged couple, we managed to attack the hills like champs and not swerve off the road. We rule.

After biking (mostly) uphill for eight miles, we took a much needed dip at a beautiful private beach. Sadly, a jellyfish sting on my arm ended our beach fun early. We packed up our things, hopped back on our bike, and explored a pagoda with an intensely gorgeous view for the rest of the morning. After taking in the sites at the pagoda, we biked to Buddha Bay for lunch.

The Buddha Bay restaurant is located right on the water and boasts spectacular views. The furnishings are understated and blend in seamlessly with the tropical surroundings. We were seated in a private “cabana” (or floating raft according to The Astronomer) and had a waitress serving us throughout our meal. The service was a little too attentive for my laidback state, but that’s the way hospitality goes at nice restaurants in Vietnam.

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Not wanting anything too heavy, I ordered a pomelo and squid salad. The salad was served inside a hollowed-out pomelo and contained huge pieces of squid, fried shallots, and dressed in a spicy fish sauce vinaigrette. The salad’s tart and sweet flavors were so simple and yet so amazing. Sorry to get all TomKat on you.

The Astronomer ordered a whole steamed fish with ginger and scallions, which our diligent waitress deboned. The fish was cooked to order and thus incredibly fresh and flavorful. Although we’re not sure what type of fish it was, its flesh was white and flakey. The Astronomer enjoyed the fish with rice, even though rice paper and greens were available for making rolls.

Totaling $20, our feast at Buddha Bay was easily our most expensive Vietnamese meal to date. The food was good, but it was the restaurant’s natural and peaceful ambiance that made our experience truly memorable.

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