Nem nuong, 13,000 dong. On my way to meeting The Boyfriend for lunch, I stopped to get a piece of banh chuoi (banana cake) for dessert. Just next door (or rather next stall), a man was grilling nem nuong (grilled pork meatballs) that smelt mouth-watering (can smells be mouth-watering?). They were just the perfect colour (not the weird, artificial red you see at restaurants back home) and grilled perfectly. I couldn’t help buying a stick, even though I was heading for lunch. As I walked down the street, men were laughing at me as I was enjoying my meatballs. They’re one of the best I’ve had!
Banh mi ga nuong (Turkish style), 14,000 dong. I would meet The Boyfriend to grab some Shawarma by his workplace. Supposedly, the owner learned to make these in Germany, where he spent some time and learnt how to make Turkish kebabs. He offers chicken shawarmas, but many teachers from The Boyfriend’s school, such as himself, get vegetarian ones. They have purple cabbage, lettuce, onion, tomatoes and tzatziki that has a good amount of dill! He uses bread similar to ciabatta and presses it in a panini grill! Perfect for those Middle Eastern cravings!
Banh mi bo duong, 5000 dong. Following dinner, The Boyfriend needed a sweet treat so we went to a vendor across from our alley selling bread with butter and sugar. The Boyfriend used to have something similar with the addition of cinnamon. I remember my mom’s friend’s son, that I just saw recently, used to have this!
Com binh dan. Com means rice and it is served daily at lunch time in our alleyway with a variety of meat, fish and vegetables. Here we have thit heo kho (braised pork) at the bottom left, and clockwise: ca kho (braised fish), xiu mai (ground pork patties), sautéed choux, pickled vegetables, chicken, fried fish and pork ribs. They set up around 11:00 am and by 11:30, people are waiting in line or sitting at the plastic chairs and tables, eating.
Canh. Canh is a simple broth and a vegetable served at every meal. The canh was being kept warm above hot charcoals. Today’s was made with napa cabbage.
Com, 18,000 dong. I picked an egg that was cooked with braised pork, fried fish fillet, some vegetables and the broth. The fish was on the salty side but very good and crispy. Sauce is placed in a little baggy. Vendors are expert at placing sauces in bags.
Che dau hu, 2500 dong. Che is the generic term for Vietnamese liquid dessert. Some are like puddings, some more like sweet soups. I'm not a big fan of che, but there are a few ones I like, including this tofu one. This is something I enjoy, oddly cold. They serve it hot with two additions I'm not used to: coconut milk and tapioca. I went without the coconut because it’s too heavy for me. The tapioca balls were ok, kind of chewy.
Bot chien, 10,000 dong. I pass by this vendor every day. I’ve been curious about bot chien, meaning fried dough, because I’ve never seen this dish until I got here. I’ve waited a while because it looks on the grea-Z-y side and I thought it’d be a bit too heavy. I don’t know what I was thinking! I LOVE grea-Z-y! The lady has a big pan of dough frying; she’ll add how many eggs you want, scramble it on top. It is served with some green papaya and a really good soy sauce. It’s all about the sauce! This is good; I may have a problem!
Bo bia ngot, 3,000 dong. After lunch with my mom’s friends and their families from Montreal (how the “kids” have grown! no longer kids!), I spotted this vendor. I know all about bo bia, a savoury roll of jicama and carrots, but ngot (sweet)? It consisted of a very thin crepe, stuffed with candied sugar, coconut and some sesame seeds. Roll it and you have a nice little treat. My mom’s friends thought we got gypped, even at that price.