Wood smoke, big pot boiling meat, cool sea breeze: stroll down a narrow hem (laneway) off the busy main road, and discover an open enclave where the locals live, laugh and gather to eat as a community. Hidden in the heart of tourism, Back Beach Vung Tau, Vietnam
Does this look good to you? It sure tastes good to me.
See the bowl of sweet chilli dipping sauce? It packs a tickle more than a punch, but the red/orange chilli bits can be little “Smokin’ Joe Fraziers”, and best treated with respect.
The pork chops are thin, juicy, almost boneless and grilled with a salty/sweet marinade (brown sugar and fish sauce?).
The SE Asian egg is full of taste (think of Australian fresh farm eggs pre-1980s) and, mixed with the steamed rice, is a meal in itself.
Cucumber and tomato (yes, again with flavor) are the healthy bits.
Good lunch for USD2.15/AUD3.15.
– Vung Tau, Vietnam, 2019
Sometimes the “old ways” are best: a cyclo rider and his passenger stop to buy fresh produce from a street fruit vendor’s hand cart. Vung Tau, Vietnam 2019
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.
Mantis shrimp/sea mantis are a popular Vietnamese seafood.
Locals call them tôm tít.
There’s not a lot of meat in them but they are a cheap-ish treat, and usually barbecued, steamed, or pan fried in coconut oil.
I don’t recomment the fried version as I find the oil too sweet, and extracting the meat is a hot, messy, oily affair.
But don’t let me stop you – give them a crack …
Sometimes the words can be more appetising than the pics. I don’t fake my food pics, what you see is what I eat 😁.
Here are 12 scallops and four huge oysters, all barbecued on the shell.
I like mine with a (visually somewhat unattractive) dollop of sweet, home-made mayo/sauce; others prefer savory/chilli condiments.
This has almost become my staple dinner in Vung Tau, Vietnam, thanks to my hotel’s street seafood barbecue.
USD6.90/AUD10. Not bad for “tourist prices”, eh!
Always remember: “Never judge a scallop by its shell.” 🤠
A view to the future: Ibis will be a perfect fit for the foreshore at Vung Tau, Vietnam.
The popular weekend escape for Ho Chi Minh City’s populace, Vung Tau is balancing the accomm options with new, proportionate hi-rises while keeping the multitude of traditional nhà nghì “motel” guesthouses. Choice.
This “Ibis Suites” Hotel on the “back beach” is having the finishing touches and will soon open. (The security guard came over and went crook at me for taking this pic – all the while he was smiling, as they do. Haha.)
Vung Tau is so do-able…
Baiting tells sharks to come and eat. More sharks. Hungry sharks. Isn’t that obvious?
As for recent “alarmist publicity” about shark attacks: mate, I would now be alarmed if my loved ones snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef/Whitsundays without local advice. Very alarmed.
Choose tour groups with marine biology experts. Always listen to locals.
Growing up, my brother and I often sought refuge in Readers’ Digest books.
I’ve found a hard cover classic here – add tropical weather and a big, frosty glass of freshly squeezed watermelon … who’s in a hurry to go back to the political morass of Australia? 🤠
– Vung Tau, Vietnam
You don’t like eating vegies? Then come to South-East Asia: the salads are so good, sometimes I could treat the meat as the garnish. Not this time – I last recall eating pork this tender in Argentina. Oh, and at the Sofitel Wanda Hotel, Beijing. This lunch is charsui Hoi An pork with firewood cooked rice. (I don’t know what firewood does to steamed rice, but the menu says it’s “traditional”. It’s tasty.) USD$1.95, Câm An (a little, street corner eatery known for chicken), Vung Tau, Vietnam