We arrived in Hue, and asked our hotel for somewhere to eat some local food. Usually, you go through a conversation that goes a bit like this
‘Where can we go to eat some local dishes?’
‘Many of our guests like the restaurants in XX area’
‘I don’t want to eat in a tourist restaurant, where do you like to go to eat?’
‘Oh, this place does the best food, but no one speaks English…’
‘Perfect, where is it?’
He recommended bánh khoai & nem lui and directed us around ten minutes away to a little street kitchen-cum-home, the family who ran it were so nice, they spent a few minutes shouting to each other on our arrival and finally, on top of the fridge they found the one menu in English, which clearly hadn’t been out for a while.
We also ate nem lui at this place, another local dish from the central region.
I’ll be honest we didn’t really have a clue about how you’re supposed to eat the food, we just ordered a bit of everything. The younger women of the family practically said “you put this with this, and some of that on top and dip everything in the sauce” without any words and lots of demonstrative pointing.
bánh khoai is rice flour pancake, the batter also includes turmeric and served hot, crispy and blistered. The main components of the filling is a mixture of quails egg, pork and shrimp, with beansprouts.
As is usual, a side of herbs and greens include tart starfruit were on the table to add to our pancakes and a peanut sauce, known as nước lèo which includes pork liver for a nice, rich earthy flavour.
Very pleased to have been introduced to this place, experiencing culture can happen in a variety of ways, not just at the museums and I fully believe in food as a great way to learn about countries as well as a social glue for the local inhabitants.
Some useful phrases
Sin chow – hello
Mot – one
Hai – two
Gam urn – thank you
Tra da – iced tea, a popular and cheap drink to accompany meals and usually available at hole in the wall restaurants
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