Last night, after a very filling dinner at Huong Vien, a vegetarian place from the gastronomy website, I got a call from my uncle to meet some family members at a restaurant. This is AFTER I called earlier in the evening to invite him for his last dinner in Saigon and was turned down because he was too busy packing… I have no idea where we went since I literally got in a cab, called my uncle and he gave directions to the driver. All I know is that the restaurant had the #31 in its name.
The Boyfriend and I didn’t even look at the menu because we were so full. But it was a grill/hot pot/anything-else-you-can-think-of restaurant. So we ate just a bit of what my family ordered: grilled beef, tofu, okra?, oysters... Around us were boards with menu items: field rat, snake and other interesting items as you can see in the picture below.
Interesting menu items.
Then The Boyfriend made the mistake of noticing a pictures of coconut worms.“Look they sell coconut worms. We just watched a show on that. How would they be served?”. My uncle called the waiter over and asked. Options are raw, grilled or fried in butter. As my uncle is speaking to the waiter, I was trying to say “This is just out of curiosity, we don’t want any!”. My uncle translated: “Why don’t you bring five over, fried in butter?”.
Once upon a time, I believed I was the type who would try anything. Insects, funky meat or raw whatever, bring it on. Either due to age or a misperception of myself, I realize I am not that person! So I just sat there, HOPING that I had heard wrong. I obviously wasn’t.
The fat, grubby worms came in a dish with a side of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mayonnaise, I think. Just your usual garden salad with a side of grubs. We were assured that these worms are the cleanest since they live in and feed themselves from coconut trees. Still didn’t help.
Yum, clean coconut worms fried in butter...
I knew I would have to one. So my Cau Q had the first one. Then I went for it. It really doesn’t taste like anything bad, just a big pouch of melted fat explosion. I drank it down with The Boyfriend’s beer. The outside was a bit chewy/crispy and harder to swallow. More beer helps. My Cau H had one and my cousin Anh V.
Did I mention that we ordered five and all were eaten? Let’s just say someone whose name started with “The”, VERY UNHAPPILY, had half of the last one. But don’t tell him I said so… He did concede that of all the items he could have asked about, this was probably one of the better ones. And the dried squid he tried in Quang Ngai was worst!