Archive for the 'Hot Vit Lon' Category

The Astronomer’s 24th

This past weekend, we celebrated The Astronomer’s big 2-4. There are a million and one spirited things to do in Saigon, but when it came down to it, all The Astronomer wanted on his special day was to gorge on dim sum, consume local libations and sing his heart out. Oh, he also wanted to hang out with babes. Lots of babes.

The babes came into the picture early in the morning. While we were waiting for our friends to arrive for dim sum at the New World Hotel, we saw a bunch of Miss Universe pageant contestants who happened to be staying there. Check Miss Adventure’s site for the full babalicious recap. According to Hawk, Miss Korea is a fox.

Here’s the birthday boy posing in front of a flat screen TV advertising the dim sum special at the Dynasty restaurant that we took advantage of. Only $4.99 for all you can eat! Awesome deal.

Here’s what we ate. The har gow AKA shrimp bags were excellent, as were the tripe, banh cuon and fried turnip. The Astronomer’s favorite were the deep fried dumplings doused with sweet and sour sauce. The food was good, but the service was shoddy for a five-star. In a way, dim sum wouldn’t be dim sum without terrible service, right?


Here is Vernon’s lovely Vietnamese teacher Hanh posing with Miss Vietnam. By the way, Miss Vietnam is wearing heels. Really high heels. And Hanh is short.

After dim sum, The Astronomer and I went home and passed out. Then we went running. Running post-dim sum is one of the grossest things ever. When evening rolled around, our friends gathered at our apartment for late night festivities. First stop, sidewalk seafood!

This no-name joint on Ton That Thuyet Street in District 4 (which we’ve visited a number of times before) attracts a fun local crowd and stir-fries up some mean seafood, especially the clams with tamarind sauce. They also make and bottle their own liquor. Who knows what was in it, but let’s just say that it did the job nicely.


Good friends, good food and good spirits. What could be better?

Two Cathys and one shot.


Hot vit lon. Our Vietnamese guests Hanh and Vuong placed an order for fetal duck eggs in tamarind sauce, so I had one too. Mmm! I mean it. We also ate clams with garlic, blood cockles with tamarind and grilled shell fish with scallions and peanuts.


Group shot minus Nina.

After dinner, we hopped a cab and zoomed to New Karaoke in District 3. Hanh made us reservations so when we arrived our room was ready to go!

I got the party started with a sweet sweet performance (if I do say so myself) of “Dress You Up In My Love” by Madonna. The lyrics appear on the flat screen, while the music blares from a fairly advanced sound system. The most awesome part was the video footage that accompanied the lyrics. Instead of a lame music video, there were scenes of Vietnam—Hue, Hanoi, Saigon! While I was belting out Madonna, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum popped up. Awesome, right?

Oh, and the other super-cool thing about singing karaoke in Vietnam is that your performance is rated afterwards. I scored a 92 with my Madonna performance and a 100 with “Gangsta’s Paradise”!


Here’s The Astronomer cheerily singing “Drive My Car” by The Beatles. He scored in the high eighties for this performance.

Here is Hanh singing a Vietnamese number. Later in the evening she treated us to a performance of “Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” How come all Vietnamese people know that song?

And one last shot of the birthday boy (holding a shot).

Bé Ốc – Ho Chi Minh City

January 12 and 20, 2008
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Seafood

58/53 Vinh Khanh Street
District 4, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 0903658293
Website: none

Chao Ngheu – clam porridge (20,000 VND)

So Huyet Xao Toi – blood cockles fried in garlic (20,000 VND)

Oc Mo Xao Me – snails sauteed in tamarind (20,000 VND)

Chem Chep Nuong – grilled mussels with scallion oil and peanuts (20,000 VND)

Ngheu Hap Xa – clams steamed with lemongrass (20,000 VND)

Hot Vit Lon Xao Me – fertilized duck with tamarind (5,000 VND)

Cua Rang Muoi – crab prepared with salt and garlic (80,000 VND)

So Huyet Xao Me – blood cockles sauteed in tamarind (20,000 VND)
Bé Ốc is a bumpin’ sidewalk seafood joint in District 4 I discovered a few weeks back while taking a xe om. The Astronomer and I, along with our friends Zach and Tom and Tom’s GF Vuong, came here for dinner last Saturday after a long day of pretending to be tourists at the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai Temple.
Sidewalk seafood eateries in Saigon usually begin setting up shop at around 5 PM. Their menus tend to be heavy on the protein, light on the carbohydrates and cheap in the beer department. Talk about the perfect formula for getting extremely wasted! The restaurant’s main clientèle are chain smoking, beer guzzling, middle-aged guys looking to relax after a hard days work. Woot to that! There’s also a spattering of families and women, and the occasional expatriates.
I have found that it is really difficult in Vietnam to get waiters and waitresses’ opinions on the best dishes of the house. I’ve pretty much stopped asking because their response most of the time is “everything is good,” which isn’t the least bit helpful.
Directionless, we decided to order a slew of shellfish and crustaceans prepared in a variety of ways. We also ordered a large bowl of clam porridge to share and a couple hot vit lon for good measure.
Everyone thought that the snails sauteed in tamarind were stellar. In fact, Zach proclaimed them the best thing he’s tasted in the country! The spicy, sweet and sour flavors hit all the right notes, and the little bits of rendered pork fat and garlic paired tastily with the tender snails.
Another highlight were the grilled mussels with scallion oil and crushed peanuts. The mussels were lightly cooked and smoky, while the peanuts and scallions provided depth and texture to the dish. It’s incredible how such simple ingredients can yield deliciously complex flavors!
One of the most interesting dishes of the evening was the duck fetus. Hot vit lon, which is usually eaten fresh out of the shell with herbs, salt and pepper, was dressed to the nines at Bé Ốc. The tamarind, fried shallots, peanuts and basil completely overpowered the defenseless duckling, which was actually not a bad thing because without adornments, the fetus looks like unappetizing gray matter.
We finished off our seafood feast with piping hot clam porridge, which had an abundance of clams and subtle ginger and cilantro undertones. While hot porridge doesn’t usually appeal to me in the intense Saigon heat, the cool breeze blowing through District 4 this evening made it quite palatable.
Bé Ốc is good times. Bring your friends.
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