Walking into the cafe, “Don’t worry about the menu, I’ll have what that lady’s got?”
Classic Eggs Benedict: poached eggs on spinach-and-parmesan muffins (yes, soft, fluffy muffins) shreds of smoked hock ham, tomato, cabbage (infused with beetroot?), a gentle Hollandaise sauce and decorated with what tastes like a mild chilli mayonnaise?
A big serve, I was going to take half home for later – but it was so good, the plate was empty … $22, Lolo and Wren, West Brunswick
She’ll be apples: crunchy, not too sweet, and delicious. Vietnam’s little green apples, táo, add “healthy” to the breakfast of iced coffee with sweetened milk, and trà da (weak iced tea). I’ll skip on the little sachet of dipping chili salt mix (muôi ót) that South-East Asians cherish on their fruit.
Vietnamese Egg Coffee: I’ve tried – by God, I’ve tried – from Vung Tau to Phu Quoc, both iced and hot, I did my best, folks, but for me it is NOT.
*Pic: iced egg coffee version, and the raw egg yolk/sweet condensed milk forms a custardy curdle that is scooped with a spoon. It’s a treat for locals. I feel bad because it was given to me as a gift. I’ve consumed a quarter of it … but I’m afraid the remainder is staying right where it is.
Real pics don’t do this food justice. But this is what I’m really eating and really tasting. Believe me, it’s all about the taste:
#ôc tói is a Vietnamese broad term for garlic snails but these big sea molluscs are more than that – they are snipped out by by the cook, hard bits removed, placed back in the shell and barbecued with a mild chilli sauce, mild garlic cloves, chopped green onion and uncrushed peanuts. The trick is to grab a bamboo skewer, get in there and give the shell a good poke – there’s always a juicy portion hiding around the curve.
#scallops simply barbecued and finished with a mild, creamy sauce. I’d pay again, just for that scallop sauce …
Squeeze a little South-East Asian lime juice over all of it, add a slice or two of rye bread, and it is a meal everyone should get to enjoy at least once in a lifetime.
(I genuinely, sincerely, feel sorry for people with seafood and/or peanut allergies.)