I am beginning to think though Hue is a tourist mecca of sorts, westerners must stick to prescribed restaurants and venues. Everywhere I go the people seem fascinated by my arrival right down to kids running up to me and touching me all over. This is good for it means mission accomplished. I have found a side of Hue well off the beaten path.
And I have found a dish I absolutely love! Move over bun cha, you maybe replaced now by a new favorite, bò bóp thấu. The name literally means something along the lines of “cow squeeze” which gives me a mental image of cow patties festering in some field. Bop thau is a food preparation whereby raw meat is “cooked” with lime and vinegar, however, I do believe the cow in this one had its rawness squeezed out in a wok.
Let’s just call it Hue beef salad for simplicity. This cold salad bursts with so many flavors I don’t even know where to begin. Imagine every bite loading your tastebuds with sweet, sour, salt, and spice all at the same time. Obviously thin strips of beef are the main attraction here but the supporting cast delivers a punch. I felt like this was some sort of mystery challenge where I am presented a food and asked to guess all the ingredients.
The obvious ones were peanuts, mint, coriander, pickled carrot, scallion, hot peppers, onion and possibly some sour unripe mango. The sauce obviously had some sugar and fish sauce. Whatever is in it, I would eat it over and over again. And to think the front desk staff of my hotel was worried about me eating local foods. All I needed to do was dive right in,
As I slowly savored this the last tiny particles of this delicacy, I watched a young mother feed her aleady hyperactive toddler some beer. I can report that beer and small children do not mix as he reached even higher levels of going nuts. Of course in an effort to further pacify this little hellion, she let him drink even more of this sugary alcohol treat. As with everything in life, what goes up must come down and eventually this kid crashed. And I mean he crashed hard. One minute he was running around tearing the joint up, and the next he was dozing off on the dirty floor at his mother’s feet.
I love how Vietnam always seems to deliver such a great sideshow along with amazing meals.