Vietnamese are an amazingly industrious lot. All through Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon where there’s street frontage you’ll find a shop, if it’s not retail, then it’s a hair salon or an eatery. Here, you’ll get great street food, typically specialising in one dish; pho, bun bo hue, banh cuon, xoi and lots, lots more.
A step above is the purpose built and sometimes huge, family restaurants, Quan. Here, the food is honest, prices decent, you get proper chairs and tables instead of plastic stools and the waitresses are invariably in tight t-shirts and tiny cut-off shorts. Sure the whole family goes there, but lets face it, it’s for the blokes to ‘nhau‘ – the Vietnamese men’s pre-occupation of getting together and getting drunk seems ingrained.
You’d be forgiven for thinking food is a secondary consideration, but noodlies, Sydney food blog is always amazed, here, you get flavorsome, fresh food. Sure it’s not gourmet and they tend to be small portions of meat or seafood, usually fried, bite-sized pieces to munch on as you nhau (get drunk).
Lau (hot pot) is popular for the same reason, you can dip and munch leisurely between gulps of Heineken or 333 – Heineken (Ken as it’s affectionately known) is considered classier (and is pricier), especially the ones imported from France, so I’m told. Tonight, our waitress is sponsored by Sapporo beer – but our family is steadfastly loyal to French Ken.
Check out the noodlies video below and you’ll see much thought has gone into making the hotpot safe for customers (not). Our lau is made up of a Thai soup, fresh seafood and a bewildering range of greens, many I’ve not seen, though I recognise morning glory and pumpkin flowers.
Lau is perfect to nhau with, the longer you stay, the tastier that soup base becomes…
This dinner was my new year’s eve treat for the relatives, ten of us dined on lau and fried fish and meats with French Ken- the bill came to around A$8 a head, sure we didn’t drink heaps, but this was still a mouth-watering steal!
63 Pham Van Hai, P 3
Quan Tan Binh
TP Ho Chi Minh