|Bắp nướng - Grilled corn|
If I comply with my usual code, this entry shouldn't be here because:
1- Not in season: Danang-ians like to eat grilled corns in the winter only. Now that it's getting warmer, this is far from the perfect weather for this street snack.
2- Unpredictability, instability: I usually avoid writing about newly open places or those I have a feeling that will be closed/moved away soon. Who would want to waste several hours to write about something/somewhere that would be nowhere to be found soon after that?!
But today is one of those I-don't-give-a-sh!t days and I decided to write an entry about this snack anyway.
|Cơm tấm (Broken rice with grilled pork chop)|
Cơm tấm is a southern dish, you can find it anywhere in Saigon. Cơm tấm in Vietnamese literally means broken rice, or cooked rice from fractured rice grains. In the past when rice was produced pretty much manually in Vietnam, whole grain rice was sold to rich people, and broken rice was left to poor people. Nowadays as technology has advanced, there's not much broken rice in the production. Thus broken rice becomes trendy and even more expensive than whole grain rice. Talk about irony!
|Read introduction about Mi Quang here|
If food was love and you were to pick one to be your valentine, which dish would you choose? For me, *surprise surprise*, it'd definitely be mi Quang.
Mi Quang is, no doubt, the soul of Danang cuisine.
Danang people like to joke, that don't marry a Danang girl if you don't like Mi Quang, and that you're not a Danang girl if you don't know how to cook good Mi Quang. Somehow it's true!
Is there such thing as "the best Mi Quang"? What is the perfect way to cook Mi Quang? Where is the best Mi Quang shop in Da Nang? ...Or so I was asked. Unfortunately, and fortunately, I really don't have the answer.
I like to think of Mi Quang as love. There can be love at first sight, but there is also the kind of love that is developed over a solid period of time. I'm more of the latter type. To me, love develops through time, and most importantly, it is always attached with emotions.
That's the charm of Mi Quang. There is no absolute perfect bowl for everyone, but there is always the best one for each person.
So here I am, wandering around my beloved land, searching for my most ideal valentine.
|Quoc lo 1A - AH1 road map|
So to start my 2012's travel resolutions, my family and I made a road trip by car from Danang up to Sapa, Lao Cai, the very northern area of Vietnam. We took AH1 road (quốc lộ 1A - photo above) from Danang to Hanoi, from there took the straight way to Sapa, Lao Cai, and crossed the border between Vietnam and China. On the way return, from Hanoi we changed to take the Ho Chi Minh trail (photo below, blue line) which was a very wise decision. Ho Chi Minh trail compared to AH1 is much newer, better road quality with amaaaazing view of countryside of Northern Vietnam.
Of course I didn't forget my job of observing and experiencing food cultures as we travelled through cities. In every city people'd sell local specialties along the road, so we stopped to buy a bit of everything whenever possible. Let's join me through the photos!
Do you remember how many Danang dishes I have introduced that involve using banh trang (rice paper/rice cracker)? Ok let's make a quick review:
- Rice cracker used as topping for mi Quang
|Sinh tố trái cây dầm - Smashing fruit dessert|
Like any other tropical country, Vietnam is heaven of fruits. There are hundreds of fruit types, cheap and available everywhere, and also countless ways of eating them.
When people get bored of eating fresh fruits individually, one popular way is to mix or blend different fruits together, adding some more milk and sugar. We call that "Sinh tố" in general, or "sinh tố xay" for well blended fruits (smoothie) and "sinh tố dầm" for small pieces of different fruits mixed well with milk and sugar in a glass. In Danang a glass of sinh to often includes mango, dragon fruit, avocado, jackfruit, strawberry, sapote, graviola..., with a little bit of fresh milk, sugar and optionally topped with some candied coconut.