Quảng Ngải - my mother homeland! Central area of Vietnam and nearly 900 km from Sài gòn!
As many others, my mother has left Quảng Ngải for Sài gòn in 1950s! She was the first one in the family who migrated to Sài gòn and her first house became a shelter for other members in our big family later!
From time to time my mother went back there, her last visit was probably more than 10 years ago! Now in her late 80s she already forgot many things but Quảng Ngải is always in her mind!
And my last return to Quảng Ngải was in 2005 when I did a trip by car to Phong Nha cave!
The images of Quảng Ngải in my mind, mostly came from my childhood, when our family used to go back there for Tết celebration, until my grand mother passed away in early 70s!
To me, those old images, memories are still very clear, I have the feelings that I just saw it yesterday!
Our family's big house, a huge garden with coconut trees in front of the bathroom, the two separated restrooms at the end of the garden, next to the fence, every time I need, I have to run fast across the backyard! I still remember a big well near to the kitchen! And the kitchen! A big one in a countryside style, full of black soot and gray smoke, and its unusual smell that I love and really miss it!
And surely I miss some specialities from my mother homeland! Especially the special water fern cake (bánh bèo) which is special in their own style, and the tiny but very crispy spring roll that we call "ram"! Many good things!
Nowadays not easy but we can find some places where we can have Quảng Ngải's specialities, not in the fancy restaurant as Huế's delicacies, usually in small, simple stalls either in district 10 or Tân Bình! Month ago, my nephew, a quite picky eater, found a stall in Lý Thường Kiệt street and we went there!
The stall is so simple, just few low tables in a deserted house and some on the sidewalk, in front of the house! But they serve very authentic Quảng Ngải foods! Simply because the owner is a famous "chef" in Quảng Ngải, she just moved to Sài gòn to establish a new "eating" business!
Grilled pork, very tasty, it's quite similar to Malay food (for non Muslim!) that I tried before!
If we have deep fried "ram" (spring roll), now special from Quảng Ngải - grilled spring roll!
Ram nướng! Different from deep fried, grilled one filled additionally with corn, a bit chewy and sweet!
Dip sauce is always mixed with roasted peanut and sesame!
Famous grilled beef wrapped in lolot leaves! Lolot leaves or lolot pepper leaves have a very nice fragrance! I remember near to our family old house, there was a fence with full of lolot leaves, whenever I pass by I surely smell and love to pick some leaves, squeeze in my hand to get more of that sweet smell!
Moving to Sài gòn to set up a new business is not easy! When we tried these for the first time, we already made some comments about seasoning! So how to keep the authentic flavor from Quảng Ngải but ignore the local Sài gòn habit could be a risk! Anyway if you want to try these specialities from Quảng Ngải without traveling, call this number 098 4103269 (Mrs Hoa), they do delivery right to your place! Enjoy!