To pick up where I left off on Friday’s post, there isn’t a single raison d'être for returning to Saigon, but rather the amalgamation of factors which I touched on. Yet, one item that is high up the list, peeking over the top edge with greedy little eyes is this country's gastronomic delights, in extreme plurality.
Despite being a self-confessed hedonist, okay, honestly more of a glutton than a bon vivant, I haven’t had time to revisit and resample all of the epicurean delicacies we so salivated over in Australia. Sarah and I would sit down, with a bucket tied under our chin and knotted behind our ears, which acted as a catchment area for our drool (remember Australia is in a serious long-term drought and any moisture whatsoever is as welcome there as it is on Frank Herbert’s Dune). We’d then remember all our old haunts and reminisce about our favourite dishes:
“Oh, do you remember the ca ri hai san at that com binh dan with the purple taro soup side?” *slabber slabber slobber* or “Beef and cheese, beef and cheese!” that coming excitably from me thinking about that delectable cholesterol bomb at Barbecue Garden, as I dribbled salubriously into my bucket. Memories rekindled and drool arunning, we’d go on for quite a while, before I stomachs would join the festivities, pounding at the door, asking to be fed in substance and not in spirit alone.
In the nine days that we’ve been here, I’ve managed to gulp down mounds of noodles in various forms: mi quang, hu tieu, mi xao and more pho than you can throw a rubber chicken, infused with cilantro and rubbed down with mint, at. I’ve eaten pho probably every day for breakfast, otherwise for a snack or lunch. I’ve got bean sprouts emerging from my nostrils like a newly seeded wheat field, beef brisket on the brain and broth sloshing around in my stomach like a LG top-loader on high. I’ve had goi cuon, bo kho, banh xeo, bo bit tet, com heo nuong and xiu mai, suon heo, soft-shell crab covered in what looked like green Rice Krispies, green mango salads, green papaya salads, freshly baked banh mi's and a steamy, fluffy banh bao filled with well, thap cam, a lot of interesting bits and pieces, some identifiable, some not.
There's a marinated rubber chicken submerged in there somewhere.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s still to come. I’m watching and waiting in the dark, biding my time, sourcing out the best bun cha (my all-time fav) and pho Hanoi joints, like a serial killer stalking his prey…I think I need a bucket again, the dribble is making rivulets down my chest and pooling in my belly button.
Any recommendations as to your favourite Hanoi food spots in Saigon? I’d love to hear them.
Adios en lekker eet.