I had dinner at Nha Trang on Wellington Street the other night and it was the first meal I’ve had in a while that was flawless from beginning to end. It also was important to me because it served as a reminder of the fact that Vietnamese cuisine is by far my favorite and that my proximity to Vietnam at the moment (even if I can’t go there because the visa is twice the cost of a flight and because I don’t know where to get a yellow fever vaccine in Hong Kong) offers me an unparalleled opportunity to find authentic Vietnamese food which I should very much take advantage of in the next few weeks. Something about that beautiful harmony between spicy chili, soothing lemongrass, tart lime, zingy cilantro, cool mint, oily and earthy peanut….something about a warm bowl of pho or a steaming plate of rice vermicelli with fish sauce….something about the composition of each dish with a perfect balance of crispy, chewy and soft…Yeah, Vietnamese food wins.
Deep fried soft shell crab – I don’t usually like to start with the best but I can’t help myself in this case…Golden brown and crispy light batter wrapping around crunchy thin legs and a beautifully plump body which made for two big mouth-fulls of creamy white, mushy crab insides, slightly crunchy shell and beautiful batter. Served with lime. Absolutely perfect.
Pork spring rolls – Beautifully refreshing bite-sized rolls of lettuce, cucumber, chives, mint, a bit of garlic, rice vermicelli and very delicate, tiny bits of grilled pork wrapped in moistened rice paper served with a bit of extra rice vermicelli and orange nuoc cham dipping sauce (a delicious sweet mixture of fish sauce with lime juice, sugar and minced garlic). Yummy little app.
Cha La Lot Hanoi – One of my favorites of the night. Piper leaf herb mixed into soft, slightly mushy pork patties and barbecued on a stalk of a lemongrass as a skewer. Smokey from the grill, sweet from a glaze they brushed it in, deep flavor from the herbs, freshness from the lemongrass. Fantastic.
Bon bo Hue – oxtail? knuckles? not sure, but some kind of delicious fatty meat in a sweet-salty soup of lemongrass, tomato, chili, cilantro and onion. Not my FAVORITE but very good.