If I haven’t mentioned food lately then it is very remiss of me. Food is an essential and evocative part of everyday life in Vietnam. In HCMC food is plentiful and the variety is extraordinary. Last Saturday night Loic was alone as Mai has gone back up to Hanoi for a week or two so he came to our house and we walked out of our Hem onto Vo Van Tan Street. Loic introduced us to a small restaurant where they specialise in making the most delicious hanmade wantons. These are made fresh throughout the day and contain minced pork and a small shrimp. The noodle-like pastry is thin and soft and I am addicted.
The wantons are cooked up and served in a soup along with some fresh crisp greens and noodles if you want. They are completely mouthwatering and for the ridiculously low price of VND10,000 you come away very satisfied. I thought that I had found my favourite dish until last night we discovered that Lin, the wife of our favourite Xe Om driver Hoang, has decided to supplement the nightly income from her fruit juice bar at the corner of our Hem by hand-making spring rolls.
These too are mouthwateringly good. Fresh rounds of rice paper into which are rolled thin slices of freshly cooked pork, tiny shrimp cut into halves, some white noodles, mint, chives and a few other salad items. The rolls are eaten after dipping into a warmed dark sate like sauce that has been spiced with chili paste and garnished with peanuts and fine gratings of vegetable. These are delivered freshly made to our kitchen table and at VND2,000 each I am in gormandising heaven.
Ah… decisions, decisions – what to eat tonight?