Phu Quoc Lunch – 104 of 365

Shrimp and Pork Stirfry

Renting a motorbike and cruising the dirt backroads of Phu Quoc has opened my eyes to how the other half lives and gave me some serious hunger as well.  After making a large sunburned loop around the northern half of the island the main “highway” sucked me right back into centrally located Duong Dong Town, a sweltering heat bath no one could ever accuse of being the least bit “western.”

Wishing to avoid the tourist nonsense over at nearby Long Beach I just putzed around on the motorbike looking for a suitable lunch spot to refuel before trekking on south.  My criteria were simple…a tolerable level of dirt, largely identifiable animal parts in the serving trays and a decent healthy looking crowd.

Tucked away near the airport at 59 Hung Vuong is an open air concrete shack called Tuyen Duy matching my peculiar list of standards.  It’s funny how I am becoming a street food snob.  If a business I regularly frequent tastes decent enough, all sorts of health code violations couldn’t bother me in the least.  If I don’t know a place, the exact same surroundings scare me into ten minutes of worrying if I should dive in or not.

A Local Phu Quoc Lunch

Just pausing out on the sidewalk a few minutes to weigh the pros and cons of this dilapidated joint caused quite the commotion inside and three family members rushed out to persuade me I had struck gold with their food.   One young girl kept shouting, “pig, pig, pig, pig” over and over again.  Now this being Vietnam one can never be too sure if I was the subject of her shouts or if her food joint had a pork product on offer.

She yelled “pig, pig, pig” some more while tugging on my sleeve and excitedly ladled stir fry pig meat with shrimp onto a pile of steamed rice.  Well, too late now.  My mere presence was enough to start the ball rolling on a lunch order I hadn’t even verbally placed.   Evidently westerners are not part of the normal lunch scene, and everyone was genuinely excited.

And yes, I was excited, too about the flavor of the meal.   If only I knew enough Vietnamese to ask for this recipe as the sauce was a perfect combination of sweet sugar and salty fish sauce along with ginger.   Contrary to meats on the mainland, this “pig, pig, pig” was tender and the shrimp nice and soft inside their crunchy very thin shells.  What is it with eating the entire shrimp in Vietnam?  Even the soup was nicely spiced and the rice soft and sticky.

Yes, the road less traveled took me back into Duong Dong Town to a backstreet restaurant unknown to my fellow tourists.   A genuine Phu Quoc experience was stir fried and delivered on my plate for just over a dollar.  What more can a guy ask for in the search to get off the trail?

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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