Since I recently spent four days exploring Hue for an upcoming magazine article, finding that city’s stereotypical dish in Saigon seemed an appropriate way to kick start writing inspiration for. Quan Bao Tram at 18A/1 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai just on the edge of District 3 has added some great crab and snail dishes to this food journey so I stopped in for bún bò Huế or Huế style beef rice vermicelli. Yes, we’ve sampled it before but every sidewalk chef in Vietnam seems to put his or her own spin on it.
This soup was good but nothing to write home about if you know what I mean. Let me give an analogy many can relate to. Who doesn’t enjoy a steaming bowl of homemade chili on a cold winter day, right? The real deal is an amazing taste pleaser but of course takes a great bit of time to cook in the crockpot. So we go to Wendy’s and order some crap off the 99 cent menu. While that little yellow container of meat and beans hardly rises to any great gastronomical feat, it hits the spot, sort of.
Well, this bún bò Huế was much the same. The lighly sweetened broth’s contents were thoroughly sanitized for western tastes. I don’t know if they just assumed I couldn’t handle the chunks of congealed pig’s blood or the hunk of pig knuckle wrapped in animal skin, fat and all normally tossed in. Instead, rather benign strips of roast beef type meat presumably from a cow floated around with their sweet sausage friends. The huge mass of spaghetti noodles took care of my carb cravings in a massive starch overload sort of way.
Eating the entire bowl left my tastebuds neither over or underwhelmed. For $1.50 who is going to complain anyhow? Suddenly though strangest thing happened about fifteen minutes later while walking around. Out of nowhere my tongue went dry so I stopped at a Circle K for some water. I sucked down two small bottles right at the cash register to the fascination of the clerks, and my mouth still felt like someone had wrapped it in scotch tape. So I bought a liter and a half bottle and finished the entire thing in a few swigs. Funny thing is hours later my body was still greedily clinging to all 2 liters of water with no immediate sign of relinquishing its grip.
Never have I felt so waterlogged, and I swear I could hear it sloshing around inside me everytime I made a sudden movement. That soup had so much MSG and sodium in it that my body will probably require a full six months to expunge it all. Seriously, I could feel my kidneys shriveling up into raisins from that sodium onslaught now festering inside them. Ladies, I now fully understand what water retention is and a water pill would have been my savior.