Fast Food Wars in Vietnam

Fast Food Wars: the smokey, heat of battle in Vung Tau, Vietnam.

Pitched on each side of the street, it’s Cóm 25k versus Cóm Tàm 25k.

Maccas v Hungry Jack’s? KFC v Red Rooster?

Both sell the grilled, ultra-thin chicken cutlet with egg, rice, vegie and a squirt of sweet chilli syrup.

Delicious, too.

Let’s call it a draw, and we’re all winners …

Crispy Rice ‘Puff’ is Good Stuff

Vietnam Lunch: the young bloke next to me was eating a plateful of these, with rice.

Being of daring spirit and with a yearn to learn, I had to try one too. Delicious!

Similar to a Cantonese ham sui gok, it is a light, hollow, doughy “puff” coated in baked rice “bubbles” (a la crispy rice crackers) and, I presume, pan fried.

These being hollow, you could have a lot of fun experimenting with various fillings such as paté or mince, or do vegetarian with diced tomatoes and onions; maybe a sweet version with raisins and citrus peel, and serve hot with vanilla bean ice-cream.

(I’ve impressed myself with these ideas. What am I doing, pretending to write? I should be pretending to “chef” …)

Crispy rice “puffs”: a delicious addition to lunch in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Vietnam Lunch is ‘One With The Lot’

Vietnam lunch is a “one with the lot”.

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 …

Lunch is a Vietnamese “one with the lot”

Breaking Bread With Broken Rice: “Quiche Nha Trang”

Chà com tâm is a cold “pie” made with broken rice, cucumber and eggs – this version tastes also of mushrooms and salty fish sauce, adorned with red chillies.

It’s like quiche Lorraine … shall we call it “Quiche Nha Trang”?

On the topic of “broken rice”, one evening I chatted to an American in the Muster Bar in Vung Tau who was building a factory on the Mekong River, in partnership with a local, to export “broken rice”.

There’s big bickies to be made in the non-perfect rice grain trade …

Chà com tâm is a quiche-like Vietnamese dish made of “broken rice” (ie non-perfect grains) mashed with eggs, cucumber and other ingredients

3 Cups Runneth Over With Tastes of Taiwan

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!

3 Cups Chicken is a traditional Taiwanese meal that is big on “sweet spice” flavors

Healthy lunch when tastebuds need a rest

This lunch was about as exciting as a Greens Party policy launch: undeniably full of goodness but tastebuds in induced coma.

I reckon it needs “moisture”.

A dollop of yoghurt might give it CPR; coconut cream would be a defibrillator.

Suitable for vegans, vegetarians and people who don’t like fun.

PS: I’ve toured Sri Lanka, and their curries are superb.

Bowl of Goodness: Healthy choice but needs some “zing”.