After mentioning to my Vietnamese teacher that I had ăn nhậu on the weekend, she informed me that this term has negative connotations. It usually implies men drinking excessively on a regular basis. Therefore, as a woman, I should not use the term to describe my activities or risk people assuming I’m a hard core drinker. Rather I should have said I went out for a birthday celebrations, where I ate and drank a bit...!
On this evening, our snacks were various shellfish and the alcohol of choice was nep ruou, rice wine. The rice wine came in bottles costing 10,000 dong (0.63 USD). That’s a steal because a bottle is potent enough to get a few people happy and singing. The goal was to open The Astronomer up enough so he would be singing karaoke later. His Vietnamese teacher H thought that one could not leave the country without this quintessential Vietnamese experience!
The place where we went to ăn nhậu. Notice: no women!
The Gastronomer joins in on the shots while C2 looks on.
*CAUTION* This may be disturbing to some. Hột vịt lộn in tamarind sauce. Hột vịt lộn is a fertilized duck egg with an embryo inside – you might have seen this on Fear Factor or Survivor! Read Jay’s and Rachel’s experience with balut – the equivalent in the Philippines. I grew up eating this so it doesn’t bother me but I like eating this better simply boiled, still in the egg shell with a bit of salt and pepper. Whenever a white person asked what the eggs were at Asian markets back home (yes, you can find them back home if you really look), my mom would advise them “You don’t want to buy that!”.
Clams backed with peanuts and scallion oil (delicious!). In the background are blood cockles (a type of shellfish) in tamarind sauce.
The girls enjoying some clams (V, H, C2 – C2 because her name starts with C and she’s Canadian too!).
The whole group.
Being a Saturday night, most karaoke bars were either booked up or didn’t allow reservations. After many calls to different karaoke bars, H found one where a room was available. The room was actually very impressive looking and at 118,000 dong an hour (8 USD), not a bad deal! There was a large selection of English songs with an even larger selection of Vietnamese songs. After singing each song, a grade was given; we ranged from 75% to 100%.
And the award goes to…
Best undiscovered talent: The Astronomer
Best prepared after years of singing in front of the mirror: The Gastronomer
Best duo of the night: C2 and the Gastronomer with their rendition of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise (the only 100% score of the night). Never knew Asian girls could be such good rappers!
Cutest singer of the night: H singing Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and stating it was her favourite song to sing!