Hoa Lý Xào Thịt Bò Beef and Tonkin Jasmine – 225 of 365

Hoa Lý Xào Thịt Bò

And to think my hotel’s front desk staff had told me no food was available in the immediate neighborhood that would satisfy my tastes.  Within two blocks I saw numerous single story concrete shacks crumbling beneath tin roofs where the thirsty and hungry can pull up a chair under a wall mounted fan, drink cold beer and eat the Vietnamese versions of bar food.  Quan Hang at 19 Le Hong Phong Street is the perfect place to languish in the heat with a cold one.

Gone are the loaded potato skins, Buffalo chicken wings and other assorted gut clogging nonsense we gorge on back home.  Proper beer food done Vietnamese style consists of light stir fries and plenty of vegetables.  Rather than an appetizer of girth enhancing nachos grande con crapola the waitress brought us a bowl of sliced cucumbers and bitter melon.  The dipping sauce of purple fermented shrimp paste and a sprinkling of dried chili peppers is definitely an acquired  taste though.  The smell packs a potent punch while the taste leaves me wondering what the hell have I just ingested.

Beer and Food Joint

This meal helped me realize how far I have come in terms of my limited Vietnamese allowing me to eke out a subsistence living experience when dining out.  I know just enough to order a beer and to get fed.  When it comes to the menu, I can even decipher the different animals and cooking styles but some of the words still leave me guessing and hoping for the best as in my latest find, hoa lý xào thịt bò .   Xào stir fry.  No problem there.  Thịt bò beef.  I like tasty cow products.  Hoa lý?  This could have been anything from intestines to eyeballs for I knew, but sometimes taking a leap of faith is the best way to unlock Vietname cusine’s hidden treasures.

What arrived on an oval serving platter was quite mainstream much to my relief.  I recognized the flowery looking vegetable but could not place it.  I had bought it once in the street market just to find out its Vietnamesse name from my apartment’s front desk staff.  Their identification consisted only of “it is delicious with pork.”  Finally, I now had a name from the menu and I plugged it into my Iphone for immediate results.

Hoa lý or Tonkin jasmine.  That’s just a fancy name for a vegetable that tastes like a cross between spinach and asparagus.  Its tiny buds crunch slightly like asparagus and it’s quite tasty.  The dish gave off just the right amount of heat but not enough to make things uncomfortably numb after a while.  The remaining watery sauce was so good I could have put my face right down in that dish and lapped it all up like some crazy dog.  Come to think of it, a crusty baguette would have been perfect here to mop up that buttery tasting goodness.

I don’t know if it was the locally brewed Huda beer on an empty stomach making this all go down so good, but in any case what a great last supper here in Hue.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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