Tag Archives: Quy Nhon

A Lesson in Lunch – Vietnamese Style

 

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Try this place for bánh bão in Quy Nhon

 

khổ qua
mủổn dăng
sủổn non thit heo
cà tim
cà tim, nậm mèo, tộm
bánh bão
bánh xaò
sinh tớ
kim dình

These are the kinds of letters and symbols that have been floating by food stalls, bill boards, and menus for the past 3 weeks and I still can’t begin to make sense of them. (Well, actually that’s not entirely true. I just used Google to find a Vietnamese typing program so I could at least type the symbols so they now make more sense than they did 20 minutes ago). I can’t pronounce the words so I just ignore the accent marks and say them phonetically which really does not work so then I revert to clucking like a chicken.

So when a chance encounter at the cinema led to a date for lunch to eat some local foods, I did a little mental dance for joy at the potential to fill the void in my stomach. I slept well in anticipation of learning some more survival vocabulary AND getting to hang out with some friendly local Vietnamese.

Today’s delicious lunch and non-stop conversation far exceeded our expectations. It was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon and confirm that we made the right decision by staying here in Quy Nhon an extra day.

To help me remember what we ate and to practice the new words that I learned, I’ve prepared this handy picture dictionary for foodies:

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khổ qua

 

We started with khổ qua which is a shrimp and mushroom soup. The soup also has a fower-shaped green vegetable (we were unable to translate it) with a very distinct bitter, yet delicious flavor. If I understood correctly, our host told us that her family eats this soup on the first day of Tet (Vietnamese New Year).

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sủổn non thit heo

 

The next course was sủổn non thit heo or pork spare ribs with a delicious sauce and greens. These were melt-in-your-mouth tasty and I could have eaten an entire plate by myself.

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cà tim, nậm mèo, tộm

 

Another dish was cà tim, nậm mèo, tộm or eggplant(aubergine) with young shrimp. This dish also included a dark purple/black strip of vegetable that was also delicious but I have no idea what it might be called in English.

 

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bánh bão

We then left this restaurant and taxied to a kim dình (food stall) where we each ate a plate of bánh bão which is best described as little rice flour pancakes (like little Dutch pancakes) that has been steamed in a mold and covered with ground peanuts, crushed dried fish, and bread crumbs. Fish sauce and red chili are poured over the top to taste. These are delicious.

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sinh tớ

 

We finished off the progressive lunch with sinh tớ. This looks like a parfait or ice cream float but it’s made with mango, watermelon, kiwi, sapota (we couldn’t translate this but it might be a plum), green jello, milk, sugar and ice. This is something I never would have ordered on my own but, now that I’ve had it, will definitely add it to my “must eat/drink” list on a regular basis. The taste was delicious and the texture was satisfying.

Not only was this lunch a great culinary experience, it has also provided us with the tools to not order what we did last night. (chicken feet and gizzards).

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This is what we get ordering on our own. We were soooo glad to have help today.

 

N.B. Eric gets the medal for eating a chicken foot last night. I, on the other hand,  took my role as food photographer very seriously. Thank goodness for lunch today!!!

Ringing in the New Year by Resting

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A New Year’s Day walk on the Quy Nhon beach is a nice way to relax.

 

Eric and I arrived in Quy Nhon, Vietnam on New Year’s Eve at about 4:00 pm. hot, tired and dusty. We’d been cycling hard for five days (over 400 km) to get to a larger town where we thought we might find some New Year’s Eve excitement – i.e. possibly some pizza, parties and people who speak English. We scored on 1 out of 3 but, as it turns out, we were too tired to care about the rest.

Quy Nhon is a lovely town located near a long, lovely, fine-sand beach. The town has wide boulevards, mature trees, and a good mix of hotels and restaurants, especially seafood. What it doesn’t have is a large foreign tourism industry. In other words, the Vietnamese come here for weddings, honeymoons, and family vacations. Tourists head to other places like Hue’ and Hoi An. Aside from Karaoke joints there is not much going on here.

So, last night’s New Year’s celebration was very low-key: a pre-dinner beer, seafood noodles and beef hotpot with beer, and another beer with some Canadian motorcycle travelers at the table next to ours. I don’t know why I was thinking we would be in any shape to party even if we were in a city that “partied”. We were in bed by 10:00 pm which is actually a fairly typical New Year’s Eve routine..good intentions of being the “life of the party” but zoning out hours before the Time’s Square Ball drops.

This morning both of us woke up feeling very exhausted. Our legs ached. (How can that still happen after 4500 kilometers?), our eyes felt heavy and the Vietnamese coffee did not (never does) really give us the kick of caffeine (Does it even have caffeine?) that we so needed.

We both agreed that our bodies needed a rest from cycling, and route planning, and hotel selecting, and sightseeing. We both agreed that we should even stay an extra day – no cycling, no planning, just rest.

After reading Dave Barry’s “A Year in Review 2014” (thanks, Ellen) from the comfort of the 70th different hotel bed in the past 90 days, I felt ready to breath some fresh air.

A walk on the beach with a slight breeze at our back and gentle waves lapping at our bare feet was the kind of R&R that appealed to us both.

These teenagers asked to be photographed with us while we were wiping the sand from our feet.
These teenagers asked to be photographed with us while we were wiping the sand from our feet.

Then we found a brand new shopping mall with a movie theater. “Paddington” (I’d never heard of it but a quick search on Rotten Tomatoes and Imdb confirmed that it would be an OK choice) was showing in English with subtitles so we bought the movie package (2 tickets, 2 Cokes and a large popcorn) and supplemented with a personal pizza and a bag of gummy bears because “hey, we earned it with the past week’s ride.”

We loved the movie – the explorer stuff tied in nicely with two recent reads The Lady and the Panda and Into Africa about explorers finding specimens for natural history museums. And, we sat next to a lovely Vietnamese teacher and her nephew who want to show us around town tomorrow – yeah, no planning.

A final stop at a Big C, the local supermarket to purchase laundry soap, wine and chocolate- three things that kind of sum up our non-riding days – made for a relaxing start to 2015. The wine helps, too.

Happy New Year 2015!