Monday, July 28, 2014

Big noodles with snakehead fish (bánh canh cá lóc)

It was the first time, after almost a decade, I was traveling with my old colleagues-friends. It was a big fun and we all realised - we were the same as in the old days but without the stressful work. I wonder why it took us so long to make time and to travel together?
This time was the birthday party at our friend's place - a farmhouse in Dong Nai. We had a long day, from early morning to late at night, to share all kinds of stories, to laugh and to remember the golden moments in our life.

Our friend's house located by the lake but unluckily we couldn't use his boat due to the falling of the water in the lake and the boat motor the maintenance! Anyway we found another things to enjoy there - having coffee at a quite big and nice place, eating out while waiting for the big party in the evening.

We tried the "big noodles" with snakehead fish - opposite the market Vinh An in Trị An, in Saigon we have a plenty of popular places where they serve big noodles (I used to call it "udon") either with a knuckle of pork, or with crab...but with fish, snakehead fish... it was my first time!

                   Big noodles with snakehead fish - bánh canh cá lóc in Trị An 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The traditional bánh xèo at vegetarian restaurant - Liên Hương

I just wrote my first preview on my probably first vegetarian meal at my old colleague's restaurant last week, and yesterday with him I decided to discover another place, famous for their vegetarian noodles and vegetarian "bánh xèo". Whenever I think about vegetarian cuisine, ingredients...I always limit myself within certain dishes that I really love like the deep fried tofu covered in chopped lemongrass or my all-time favourire pumpkin soup with banana, sweet potato, peanut cooked in very tasty coconut milk. I know there is a long list of vegetarian dishes but I didn't expect what we  tried yesterday at Liên Hương - their signature dish - "vegetarian bánh xèo".   

           Vegetarian bánh xèo - looks exactly the same, the dipping pineapple sauce was amazing

Friday, July 11, 2014

Vegetarian lunch at 380 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa

When I was kid, every time I heard about "ăn chay", i.e "vegetarian eating", I always associated with some rituals in Buddhism, it's also very common in Vietnam some people have vegetarian meal twice a month, by the lunar calendar, the first and the middle day (I guess!). Or it could be a case when someone has a certain strong wish, they commit themselves to "one moth vegetarian eating" or even a year long if the wish came true (or maybe not!) It's like a thanking act to the Superior.

Nowadays due to the high demand for the healthy food, for being healthier physically and mentally, people simply think about vegetarian as the best alternative...or they just go there without any reason. I don't know how rich is the selection of vegetarian eating spots in Saigon - I've been to a place managed only by monks, quite nice even they do the wedding ceremonies there. I also saw some expensive place, nice decoration, creatively attractive menu, but today my place was simple - just a place of my old colleague, who tried to run a business with his best friend - a very good chef in vegetarian cuisine.

The place, the atmosphere are nicely simple, I like the beautiful photos of Lotus on the wall, like a small collection of the Lotus's beauty - the Buddhism's flower.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Traditional sticky rice cakes wrapped in leaves

One of my first posts on this blog was about popular Vietnamese sticky rice cakes wrapped in different kinds of leaves, we have typical cakes for Lunar New Year, or other festival occasions. I never check in details how many kinds of cake we have, how we name them according to the different areas, provinces, traditions...but I'm sure the list could be long enough to remember.

By chance I found this street vendor at the Hoa Binh market in district 5, not far from my place, she's selling several kinds of cakes: from the famous "bánh tét" filled with banana (my all time favourite!), with sweet green mung bean, or green mung bean with meat without fat or with fat, "bánh ít", "bánh bá trạng", bánh cúng nước cốt dừa"...I tried them all, and I have to say they are very good, very tasty and rich of coconut flavour, because this vendor from Bến Tre - the land of coconut trees, famous with their coconut candies.

          Dì Tư Hà - from Bến Tre with her cakes wrapped in leaves in Hòa Bình market, early in the morning. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Mexican food in Saigon at Khói Thơm

I'm sorry that I don't have much posts about eating out, good food in Saigon these days. Over the past few months Saigon is burning, it's too hot, so going out, eating out is no longer a pleasure. Is it a good excuse? Or maybe I'm just lazy, especially before and after my adventure to Son Doong, the beauty of the world's largest cave still "obsessed" me probably more than any food out there in the street!

                  "Khói Thơm" - a Mexican restaurant in Saigon, it was empty during Saturday lunch time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The amazing journey to the world's largest cave : Hang Son Doong - The final

The first night at the campsite in Son Doong, before dinner we had a plenty of time, the scenery here in this cave was very extraordinary, fascinating to watch. I hardly believed in what I saw here - the extreme enormous space in mist, the ruins of gigantic rocks, surely from the fallen roof of the cave, occurred millions years ago, the huge golden alien stalactite on the other side, the unusual air in the cave, the sound from the underground river deep down in the dark abyss along the campsite, the mysterious atmosphere...then the smell of human sweat after a day-long hiking, no bath, the smoke from the kitchen, the human voice - everything around giving me a special feeling that would be hard to experience again anywhere else in my life.

                   One of my favourite sceneries in Son Doong - look like we just landed on Mars!      

Friday, May 09, 2014

The amazing journey to the world's largest cave: Hang Sơn Đoòng - Part 3

After Hang Én (Swallow Cave) we continue our hiking to the most fascinating place on earth - Hang Sơn Đoòng (or Mountain River Cave), considered as the largest cave in the world and according to Sweeney - one of our British caving experts, who accompanied our team in this adventure, it's surely the most beautiful, the most mysterious cave system that he has ever explored. The experts still continue their exploration of the new caves in this area. Few days ago I read in the newspapers that another 30 caves has been discovered by the research team.

                               On the way to the first campsite, located next to the entrance covered with mist.
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