Sunday, December 18, 2011

Binh Quoi Tourist Village buffet 2010 trip

This was a special treat, a weekend outdoor; restaurant, Binh Quoi Tourist Village It is out in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh on a beautiful groomed piece of land that looks like an idealized version of Vietnam. There are ponds and fake structures that are beautifully constructed to give the illusion that you are in a small village. 

As you exit the car park you travel down a path to a booth where you pay for the buffet to come. The restaurant is a little walk down from the payment booth; as you get to enjoy the gardens and ponds. If only all of Vietnam was so clean and unspoiled by real life. I felt like it was a Disney version of Vietnam.
 The restaurant is series of open huts where the food is cooked and most of the tables for the customers are out in the open. It was not a rainy day set up. To the left is the barbecue hut where there was numerous regional styles of barbecue and types of meat

A plate barbecue goodness, we piled the plates high and dug in.

Some of the covered eating area

Another of the cooking stations

 A really interesting cooking station where the cook was making a rice puff. I did not taste one but should have tried it.

A cook making a Vietnamese rice roll

This food station was on a raft on a pond. In the back ground you can see the floating lights they placed in the pond.

 A water wheel display setup one of the ponds in the gardens, After eating we walked around the gardens and enjoyed lighted displays.
 This was the sink for the bathrooms; great looking presentation. No the toilets were indoors and western style. It took me a few minutes to figure out the set up for cleaning my hands but after seeing someone else use it, I understood.

Lastly a view of some of the night time flora that they had lit up for us to enjoy. Overall this was a great experience along with good food that had the three regions of Vietnam well represented. Would love to have a place like this here but we do not have the weather for it in Vancouver.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Restaurant in Siagon 2010 trip

Great variation on a salad roll

We took family out to one of the many restaurants that dot the city of Ho Chi Minh. It was nice but it did not impress me in any special way. Good food that was done right but nothing beyond the ordinary.

I would say I like the use of the lacy rice wrap on the dish at the right as it adds a nice texture to the dish and makes dipping much easier. 

I have had this type of wrap used on spring rolls too and I have to say that it does impress me as it becomes very crunchy. I have yet to find a maker of this type of wrap in Canada that provides it fresh.

I love how the individual strands stick together and remain a sheet as you dip the roll.

Interesting dish noodles with pork and a dumpling; covered with roasted peanuts and fresh rich cracker.

I remember this large pork meatball well as I did not really like it. Large, porky, and lumpy; enough said.

To finish the meal I had a pork and prawn soup; tasty and satisfing as you expect from most Vietnamese soups.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh 2002 a quick bowl

Not my picture
When in Saigon you will most probably be taken to the famous Ben Thanh Market to shop and see an example of the many large markets through out Vietnam. When I was there in 2002, the market still had no prices on items and you had to haggle to get a good price. Of course that changed by the time I went back to the market in 2010; they have fixed prices so that it is easier for the tourist crowd. One area you do not see too many tourists is the small food booths. It is not the cleanest eating area but I like it for a quick bowl of soup.

Trying to take picture of bug crawling over noodles

It tasted great even though the noodles came with bug foot prints

Tet 2003 in the village

    Tet is a very important celebration in Vietnam; a combination of Christmas and New Years eve in which the country basically stops to participate with family and friends. It is celebrated at the lunar new year and lasts about 10 days. People travel back to their family villages to prepare and enjoy the holiday. I will focus on the making of the rice cakes that my wifes' family makes for the holiday. The whole family takes time to prepare the rice cakes that will be eaten over the last days of the holiday.

Most are savory but there are sweet ones too

Most being made here were savory with pork and mung bean

I love them fried a few days later, crispy

Had to add Tet decorations in the home

Sister-in-law did a lot of the flower
A meal we had at a relatives house, very good
Year of the Pig

Party in the family village 2002

Prepared food ready to serve
In any real discussion of Vietnamese cooking it is good to remember that most of the Vietnamese start out like any North American, by eating the food of his people / family. It is a special treat to be able to taste the cooking of the average Vietnamese family. I have the privilage of being married to a Vietnamese wife, as such I get to taste the simple but very tasty food found in their family home.

The chopping of the meat on a old door

Cooking the pork skewers, very tasty
Back in 2002 we had a reception in my wifes' family home in Northern Vietnam in a provice near Ha Noi. Not a large party but it had 600 hundred people over two and a half days. It went late into the night and started up a few hours after. The cooking was done by relatives and they cooked constantly as people just kept on comming. It was loud and it seemed all of Vietnam was invited.
Modern kitchen appliance?

Making some tea

Modern kitchen on the septic tank


The pork was marinated and the fat left on to keep it juicy. The taste was so good a simple tasty preparation and a cooking over a open fire; made for a delicious crispy meat. I could eat it for days. I often did as they would cook extra for eating later. In 2002 the family did not have refrigeration so the meat was hung up until it was reheated for eating the next day.

Preparing for the feast, in their version of a sink

Pounding spice

Chopping all the meat

Pork reading to be cooked

cooking something good