Archive for the 'Nha Trang' Category

Eating in Nha Trang III

On our final day in Nha Trang, we did a bit of sightseeing and mud bathing. We spent the morning hours seeking out the city’s famous giant Buddha, but stumbled upon a small Buddha first.

Fat, peaceful and happy.

We’re getting closer—the giant Buddha from afar.

At last! We found the giant Buddha.

The temple grounds were adorned with signs engraved with the Buddha’s teachings. This one was one of my favorites—speak like the Buddha, think I like Buddha, work like the Buddha.

Before jetting off to the mud baths, we bought some xoi chien to snack on. They were filled with “meat” that resembled the stuff Taco Bell serves up. Texturally interesting, but not all that tasty.

After our therapeutic mud session, we bought some good ‘ol banh mi and swam in the ocean one last time before catching our flight back to Saigon.

For dessert, Matt and I shared a caramel sundae from an ice cream shop by our hotel. The whipped cream tasted like artificial butter flavoring, which we liked a lot.

Just as we landed in Saigon, I received a call from Ba Sau (my grandma’s sister) inviting me over for dinner. When Ba Sau calls, I always oblige. We ate a lotus stem salad with shrimp and pork…

Cha gio...

Xoi gac!

Fried rice…

And chicken curry with rice vermicelli noodles. I am one lucky girl.

Eating in Nha Trang II

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We started off day two with complimentary breakfast from our hotel. I ordered a pineapple crepe and a banana smoothie. The crepe was all sorts of bland so I dipped it in The Astronomer’s honey, which made it much better. After we finished breakfast, we headed off on a snorkeling tour!

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The Astronomer and I had such an awesome time on our snorkeling tour in Phu Quoc, that we had to sign up for another one in Nha Trang. While I usually dislike tours, I think that snorkeling ones are wonderful because there’s usually lots of interesting people to meet, beautiful sites to see, and good food to be had.

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The Astronomer loves being out in the open sea. Just look at him—the boy is deliriously happy. The coral along the islands off the coast of Nha Trang weren’t as colorful as the ones in Phu Quoc, but we still had a great time swimming and floating around. The Vietnamese girls on our tour liked to squeal before getting into the water. What a riot.

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After snorkeling, we were served lunch on board. This here is shark with tomatoes. Shark, as you can imagine, is a meaty fish.

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The squid with pineapple was my favorite. The squid was much more tender than what we had for dinner the first night.

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I ate two plates of tofu with tomatoes by myself. I just love how deep-fried tofu soaks up flavors like a sponge.

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I used the fish forcemeat with black peppercorns (cha ca) and a baguette to make a lovely sandwich.

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Matt says that the shrimps were damn good, but I was too lazy to take the shells off. Lame, right? Sorry.

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I did not try the ramen noodles with vegetables because I was too busy eating tofu and baguettes.

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Now this is my kinda dessert. These types of bananas are called chuoi gia, which means old bananas. They taste very similar to the ones the U.S. imports from South America.

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After lunch we were treated to live music! This was THE best part of the whole trip. I had an especially good time because they honored my requests and played both “Hotel California” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Eee!

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Who has four thumbs and loves cover bands? These guys!

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After the concert, the crew busted out the floating bar and handed everyone a bottle of wine. A boy from Australia got super drunk and made out with a British girl. I never thought I would encounter such shenanigans post-college, but I guess we’re never too old to whoop it up!

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Good friends sharing a bottle of wine on the open sea.

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A slightly tipsy Astronomer swimming back to the boat.

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And just in case you wanted to drink what we drank—the wine is from Dalat and made of mulberries. Look for it the next time you’re at Beverages and More.

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Once everyone was thoroughly wasted, we had a fruit party! We invited all of our bestest friends—pineapple, watermelon, oranges, dragon fruit, guava and even water apples.

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Our last stop before heading home was the Nha Trang aquarium. This unagi looks more scary than delicious.

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Shark.

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After our day of snorkeling fun, we returned to our hotel and went for a run. Later that evening, we walked around town in search of dinner. “Spaghetti Street” was calling our names, but we passed. We ended up at another seafood emporium because I didn’t do proper research before my trip.

Our first course was a plate of onion rings. These were sliced really thinly and battered lightly. I prefer fatty onion rings with a thick panko crust like the ones at Buddakan.

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Our main course was a deliciously prepared fish with woodear mushrooms and glass noodles. Mmm boy.

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I ate the fish straight up, but The Astronomer chose to wrap it properly with rice paper, green mangoes, cucumbers, herbs and lettuce.

We closed out the night with some fried rice. It tasted just like my mama’s, minus the Chinese sausage.

Eating in Nha Trang I

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After suffering through his first Boston winter, we treated our friend Matt to a trip to Nha Trang during his week-long stay in Vietnam. The goal of the trip was to nosh, relax and “get brown.”

By the way, Nha Trang will be the site of this year’s Miss Universe Pageant and the picture above is a billboard counting down the number of days until The Donald comes to town.

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Unlike the Jersey Shore, the beaches in Nha Trang are peaceful and empty. The funny thing about Nha Trang is that the waves roll on to the shore sideways. The Astronomer and I took a dip as soon as we arrived, while Matt soaked up some rays because he’s not much of a dipper.

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After beach time, we walked toward Nha Trang’s major market. On the way, I bought 100 grams of xi muoi Thai. I usually avoid xi muoi because it is oftentimes too lip-puckeringly sour, but this version was just right—salty and sweet. I also bought 100 grams of me Thai because I am addicted to sugar coated tamarind candies.

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We arrived at the market in the middle of the afternoon, which wasn’t the smartest because it was pretty much deserted and the vendors were napping.

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Our first stop at the market was at an alfresco joint serving up bun sua—rice vermicelli noodles with jellyfish. It turns out that jellyfish isn’t all that exciting. I would say that it’s definitely more texturally interesting than it is flavorful. The broth was clear and mild and the cha and tomatoes came through where the jellyfish lacked.

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Since Matt had never tried nuoc mia (sugarcane juice) we ordered him a tall glass.

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The boy dug it!

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Next we moved on to a che vendor. So many choices, so little time…

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The Astronomer and Matt tried the che bap, which was warm and good, but a bit too sweet.

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I had the che troi nuoc because it’s one of my favorites. Everything was exactly on point, down to the sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The mung bean paste inside the tapioca balls was just the right among of salty to contrast with the overall sweetness. Mmm!

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As we enjoyed our che, Matt spotted a bunch of live roosters hung from a motorbike. They were surprisingly quiet as a result of all the blood rushing to their heads. Poor guys.

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Xoi! I seriously can’t pass a xoi vendor without buying some and dropped 3,000 VND on a small bag of xoi gac. The sticky rice was more oily than usual and a really vibrant orange.

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While I munched on my newly acquired xoi, The Astronomer and Matt downed two bowls of mediocre mi quang—too much broth and too little zing.

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The Astronomer and Matt have ridiculous metabolisms and are thus able to munch on cookies all day and still have killer abs. I, on the other hand, must participate in street aerobics and run daily to maintain my physique.

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After the market, we walked to see the Cham towers. This is a view of the bridges of Nha Trang from the towers.

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And here is an actual Cham tower. I don’t mean to be a traitor to my people, but Angkor Wat was heaps more impressive.

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For our first dinner in the city, we dropped in at a large seafood emporium. The food wasn’t great, but we left stuffed and satisfied enough. Our first course was a jellyfish salad served with rice crackers.

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Here’s a closeup of the goods. I think I ate enough jellyfish for a lifetime in Nha Trang.

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Our second course was sweet and sour squid. The seasonings were meh and the squid was not Phu Quoc-tender. On a postive note, the pineapple chunks were tasty!

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Our penultimate course was braised catfish in a claypot. This dish was the standout of the evening and different from the ca kho I’ve eaten in Saigon due to the generous employment of ginger.

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And lastly, stir-fried noodles with seafood. Ho hum seafood makes for a ho hum noodle dish. However, a dousing of caramelized sauce from the ca kho turned things around.

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