January 23, 2007

Food Stall Hopping (11/21/07)

After 2 weeks in Vietnam, we finally worked up the courage to eat at the street side food stalls.

We set out with determination, along with a nice guy we met on a trip, David Kim. We figured we would have acclimatized to the local bacteria by now, and fervently hoped that we would not get food poisioning.

Initially, it was a little intimidating. When we sat down, we got a few bemused looks from the locals. The stands are very simple affairs, with short with squat plastic stools and low plastic tables strewn with squeezed lime peels, smack in the middle of the sidewalk. Locals plunk down and slurp bowls of mysterious looking food. A single bubbling pot, with colanders full of noodles, vegetables and puzzling looking meat products would surround the single cook. There is no menu, and no English spoken.

But this was, by far, the most delicious food in Vietnam! For some reason, restaurant food is bland, overcooked, or both. We speculated this was because only tourists can afford to eat in the restaurants, so not only do you have unknowledgable customers, you only have to get them in the door once.

And oh wow is it cheap. The first stall we tried Cau Lau, a local Hoi An specialty, consisting of thick rice noodles, spicy soup, fried pork and bean sprouts. 3 huge bowls garnished with fresh lime and 3 huge beers -$2.50.

We were still a little hungry, and drunk with our newfound power of eating at a stand, we moved on to a second stall and sampled the fresh steamed buns, containing sausage and whole quail egg. – 3 buns, $1.

While walking and stuffing ourselves with the buns, we came upon the third stall, and tried some Chao Vit, a rice porridge containing roast duck, and had 2 more beers – $2

By this time, we were rolling around holding our stomachs. It would be worth it even if I did get food poisioning. (We were fine).

I was only kicking myself that we didn’t start eating like this this earlier!

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