A 24-carat lunch for $US3.40

Carrots add character: this colorful combo is fried egg, fried rice, salad and a chicken leg with a slightly spicy salsa of tomato, onion and carrot cubes.

It’s served in a “hot pot”, I presume for looks, as it’s all fried in the wok (except for the salad, derrr) at the restaurant”s streetfront kitchen.

Big serve, big taste, big value at USD3.40. I’ll be back again …

Morning coffee and an egg – but cooked, and not mixed together

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.

Seafood, taste food

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.)

USD6.50/AUD$9.60, street seafood bbq, Vung Tau.

China, lobsters and soaring prices

A roast chicken USD10, average live lobster USD50, airport taxi USD30: The huge Chinese “spend” in South-East Asia is causing a rapid inflation of prices.

Expect enormous inflationary pressure to soon weigh on the smaller economies as locals struggle to cope with rocketing property/food/transport costs.

It’ll be much worst if tourism turns away from “once cheap” Asia…

Clarification: roast chooks in SE Asia haven’t yet undergone the Ingham/Steggles “miniaturisation” program and are a decent size, and come with claws and head cooked and intact – woo hoo, a bonus locals love!


Feeling sore and crabby? Shell out for a lunch treat

I’ve been crabby and sore lately, so today a lunch treat: 2 crabs roasted in tamarind sauce. (Crab: You use more calories getting to the meat than you get from the meat. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.)

Eating crab is never a pretty sight, and you’re lucky to not be here watching me tackle these. My trick: put etiquette on hold and lick the shell before cracking it, to savour that delicious tamarind/ginger/raw sugar/soy jus and sea crab flavour, and it also removes a lot of that shell slipperiness (something you’re unlikely to see on those “oh so very real” TV travel shows 🤠).

This dish includes the crab’s, umm, baked “innards”, which I try. I enjoy a roast chicken’s kidneys, but the crab’s organs a bit strong for my liking – but I give them my best shot.

The restaurant staff keep glancing at me … perhaps they think I’ll just do the claws and leave the rest (the legs and organs make a superb pho or stock). Nope. When I’m finished, you might find crab on my face and fingers, but none on the shell.
– USD23.60/AUD35 for 2 big crabs. Vung Tau, Vietnam