“Smell that? Do you smell that son? Napalm, son. Nothing in the world smell like that.” – Apocalypse Now
Good morning Vietnam!
The smell of the war maybe already fading in the Vietnamese’s memory but the smell of a good bowl of Phở, or of the fatty pork chop grilled in charcoal, in the morning, will never go away. It is something I always looking for when I go to bed, thinking about what will I eat for tomorrow breakfast.
The first morning in Vietnam, I woke my husband who just visited Vietnam for the first time, up at 6 am for breakfast. Because I’ve been waiting for 4 years to share with him this amazing dish which I grew up with.
Cơm tấm sườn – broken rice with grilled pork chop, is a very common breakfast, beside Phở and bánh mỳ. It has to be broken rice to get the right flavor to the dish. The broken rice absorbed the sweet and spicy sauce which made with fish sauce, sugar, chills, and garlic. The pork chop was marinated overnight with garlic, lemongrass, brown sugar and soy sauce. It then will be grilled on the charcoal on the morning. Just follow the smell and smoke, you will find the restaurant in a hidden valley. The small family restaurant just served breakfast until they sold out, usually, around 10 am.
To find it, go to hóc Môn market, next to the post office is a small alley. Or ask the local nearby for Cơm Tấm Năm Nem. The restaurant is in the family front yard, a small garden with a small pond and waterfall.
Bánh cuốn – rice cake roll, is also a very popular breakfast choice for Vietnamese. It originated from the North of Vietnam, followed the people to the South. Nothing can be compared to the thin, a bit of chewy rice sheet which holds inside the flavorful filling which combined of wood ear mushroom, ground pork, onion, and seasoning. It has to be hot and fresh. Paired with chả – meatloaf, topped with steam mung bean, fresh basil, and fried scallion. Served with sweet and spicy fish sauce. So simple but so delicious. It took an experienced chef to make the perfect rice cake roll.
Bun Rieu Cua – Freshwater Crab noodle with pork broth, pig feet, pig blood cake, tomato and fried tofu, served with fresh thin slide morning glory, mung bean, and fresh herbs. Another sibling of this dish which is more common on the North is Bun Oc, which is made with sauteed freshwater snails. It is an all-day meal, depend on what time the vendor open.
Phở – Of course we cannot talk about Vietnam cuisine without talking about Phở. It is in the Vietnamese blood. Good restaurant in Vietnam usually just specific in one dish and they cook it at their best. The restaurant is a very competitive field in this country. Phở Phú Vương is one of my favorite place in Ho Chi Minh City. The aroma of real beef and spice will sure make you keep coming back. I haven’t had any Pho in America that could taste close to what they are in Vietnam. Price is from $2 to $5
Durian – Vietnam, especially the Mekong Delta, is blessed with the rich soil from the Mekong river. There are many varieties of tropical fruits thrive here. One fruit, in particular, is always in the head of the debate. For people who love it, the swore that it smell and taste amazing. For people who hate it, they said it smell like stinky feet and taste like rotten cheese. I am on the Durian lover side, my brother is a hater one. I just love it, I can’t explain. It tastes like the most expensive Brie cheese but sweet, like Brie and honey combined. If you come across one, give it a try to see if you are a lover or a hater :-).
Jackfruit – Jackfruit is very good. It has a slight aroma, sweet taste, and crunchy texture. Fresh Jackfruit has a sweet nectarine inside the separated pot which covered a seed inside.
Bo – Avocado It sounds strange but avocado is very popular in Vietnam. There are many varieties of avocado. Their texture is very good for eating it alone or making a smoothy. Vietnamese loves the avocado smoothy with condensed milk. It looks at taste like avocado ice cream.