Archive for the 'Bun Gao' Category

Mũi Né II

Mui Ne is like crack. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop. Or so I’ve heard. The Astronomer and I had our first Mui Ne hit a couple weeks back and we had such a bloody blast that we returned this past weekend. The occasion? Hawk‘s 27th.

This time around we rented a sweet mini-bus to get us there. We left Saigon at six in the evening and arrived in Mui Ne at half past ten. Definitely far speedier than a tour bus. We stayed at our favorite hotel Sunshine Beach.

The next morning started off with a giant strawberry pancake. I love the pancakes at Sunshine Beach so much that I had another one for dinner. It’s been so long since I’ve had real maple syrup that I find Aunt Jemima palatable. Sadness.

The Astronomer had some mighty fine French toast. No brioche, but still very lovely. I ate his bananas. Score. After breakfast, Hawk, The Astronomer and I walked along the beach collecting sea shells and jumping over mysteriously warm “rivers” draining into the beach. And before we knew it, it was time for lunch.

The boys at Jibes.

Food porn alert! The Astronomer ordered fresh tagliatelle with pesto. The pasta was al dente and the sauce tasted wonderfully fresh.

Hawk ordered a cheeseburger. The meat was pan-fried rather than grilled, which resulted in a most satisfactory burger. EDIT: By “most satisfactory” I meant plain ‘ol satisfactory. English wasn’t my first language.

I grabbed some Vietnamese food next door at a restaurant named Lam Tong (92 Nguyen Dinh Chieu) and took it back to Jibes to eat with the boys. I ordered some bun gao (rice noodles with tofu and vegetables), which was just what I was in the mood for. Deep-fried tofu has a wonderful way of soaking up seasonings.

I also procured some cha gio to share. They were supposed to be stuffed with seafood, but all I could taste was pork. Following lunch, we all went to our rooms and crashed even though we had good intentions of kayaking. After napping, The Astronomer and I went for a run. Afterwards, I had a mango pancake for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things.

The next morning started off with another run, which was followed by a dip in the ocean and breakfast. I wish I could have breakfast here every morning. The ambiance is just unbeatable.

Here’s The Astronomer eating toast with jam in his sopping running shorts.

For his main, The Astronomer ordered a croque-monsieur that was made with Laughing Cow cheese rather than gruyère. Regardless, it was still a great melted cheese sandwich.

I had my third pancake of the weekend. It was a delightful pineapple number.

After breakfast we read on the beach, while Hawk played golf at the Novatel.

When Hawk came back from the greens, we jammed over to Lam Tong for a Vietnamese lunch.

Hawkins requested that we order tofu, which was cool by me because I love the stuff. We settled on the sweet and sour variety.

We also ordered some vegetables in curry. It turned out that vegetables meant scallions and onions, which was a bit disappointing.

The ca kho was the best of the bunch. I can’t tell you what fish it was, but I can tell you that it was super-fatty. The caramelized sauce was nearly too sweet, but there was just enough fish sauce to keep it from tasting like candy. After lunch, we headed to the red sand dunes a couple kilometers up the road.

Hawk was pulling a Michael Jackson and walked around with an umbrella to protect himself from the sun

Hawk trying to snowboard upon the peaceful patterns in the sand.

The boys on the dunes.

The Astronomer sledding down the hill with a little assistance from a small boy who later beat the crap out of all of us. Note to self: make sure to negotiate sledding price before partaking!

Hawk getting in a killer work out in between sledding.

Exhausted. Happy Birthday, man.

Bún Gạo

The Astronomer, his sister and I returned to the especially delicious block of Ly Chinh Thang Street in District 3 for lunch the other afternoon.

While most street vendors usually sell only one or two dishes, this vendor sells at least five different ones. Without a kitchen at her disposal, I’m not quite sure how she’s able to offer so much variety. Her mise en place always seems to be well stocked too! Incredible.

Last time we ate here, she suggested that I try bún gạo the next time I visited. My family eats a lot of Vietnamese food, but bún gạo is not in the rotation. In fact, this was my very first bowl!

Bún gạo is a close-relative of bun thit nuong, bun cha gio, bun thit xao, etc. The major difference between them lies in the noodles. Whereas the aforementioned dishes employ fresh rice noodles, according to the vendor, bún gạo uses old rice noodles that are reconstituted in boiling water and sauteed in oil. The result is a thinner and coarser product.

Strips of scrambled eggs, fried tofu, sauteed chives and spinach, thit xao (beef with lemongrass and onions), greens, herbs, peanuts, shallots, and cha gio were piled on top of the noodles. The entire concoction was splashed with nuoc cham.

The verdict? Bún gạo is really good. The dish was fresh, cool and full of variety. The fried egg and sauteed greens were my favorite components. Sometimes with big bowls of noodles, I experience a bit of palate fatigue. However, with the wide range of flavors and textures present in this dish, I effortlessly killed it.

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