A big queue was happening at this Nha Trang street food stall – building labourers, office workers, they were pulling up on their motor scooters; the family running the stall were working like clockwork, filling take-away containers and ladening plates.
They all seemed to be ordering rice with a bit of everything. So I did, too! Smart move.
The meal was pork done various ways, chicken, boiled/stewed pigeon eggs, vegetable, crunchy fried shrimp (yes, I crunched them – shell, head and all), and other bits and pieces.
Generously spoon on some SE Asian home-made sweet chilli syrup, and tuck in …
This is Chicken Pho with a Twist: golden, crunchy “bagel twists”, called bán quăy, are dipped in the “soup”.
Being a light snack – made simply of dough and peanut oil, and shallow fried – the bagel twists would also suit stews, casseroles, goulash etc or dipped in chilli-aioli or mayo. Hint: any enterprising Aussie snack producers reading this, I want a slice of the royalties.
However, the REAL STORY here is the chicken pho, at Nguyễn Mai and family’s new, friendly, little eatery in Nha Trang.
Nguyễn Mai best describes it, in full (I don’t know who Huy is but he is one lucky dude!):
“Newly opened ‘Hanoi chicken noodle’ shop at 222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai (go NTMK road in the direction from the sea, to the section where there is an eel in the middle of the road, start paying attention to the right hand side, about 15m more to arrive. diagonally face Phuong Trang car delivery office). The restaurant cooks in the North style. The plus point of the restaurant is that the broth is cooked from bones rather than using a lot of MSG, so it is sweet and has a very characteristic lemon leaf flavor. Each piece of chicken is torn to taste, the meat is boiled until it is not tough or residue but still retains the crispy, fatty layer of the golden chicken skin. 30k/bowl, too cheap for a weekend breakfast, watching the street have begun to be crowded with tourists; and let your soul fall in a bowl of shredded chicken noodle soup, glimpses of golden skin, white meat under the sparkling golden broth, fragrant chicken fat, and dotted with strands of sliced lemongrass and onions. green flowers and a little bright red Northern chili sauce. Say no more, let everyone come eat and feel the delicious taste of Hanoi in the heart of the coastal city of Nha Trang! Mind: Read the pass “Huy’s girlfriend” Get a discount every time you pay!”
Tastes of Taiwan: “3-Cup Chicken” (aka san bei ji) is chicken-on-bone pieces fried in a sauce traditionally made of 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of rice wine, 1 cup of sesame oil (hence the name “3 cups”!) with ‘”sweet spice” flavours of cinnamon/cloves/star anise, raw sugar, soft lemongrass, sliced garlic & ginger, Thai basil, scallions, capsicum – and maybe a few “chef’s secrets”.
Here it’s served with steamed rice topped with Taiwanese “pork gravy”, lettuce with dressing, and the tastiest, crunchiest wok steamed veggies.
It’s a meal and half, only $15.80 as “lunch special” at Jymmanuel Eatery in East St Kilda (formerly Tang Dumpling House, a fav weekend family lunch venue)
Oh – and, of course, with the ubiquitous Asian boiled egg!
Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the eye of the Marketing Manager.
Fortunately (just ask my kids) food often tastes better than it looks.
For a convenience/frozen meal, this “pea mash with lemon & pepper chicken”, is umm, a tasty emulsion. Add a dollop of natural yoghurt, a sprinkle of hottish paprika and a few rye Cruskits, and you’ve got a meal maybe fit for a Mughal Emperor’s kitchen staff on their day off …