Vịt Nướng Grilled Duck – 274 of 365

Grilled Duck

As always in Vietnam, loitering in front of a shop draws people from within the shop who waste no time starting some sort of hustle to get people to enter the shop.  They don’t even care if someone is obviously busy on the phone or talking to a friend.  I guess they see we have a lot of Dong to offer, and they want it badly.  Maybe I don’t want to give them any Dong at that moment yet they remain relentless in their pursuit of my Dong.  OK, get your minds out of the gutter.  The Dong is their unfortunately named currency.

A friend and I made such a stop in front of a food shop at 102 Quan Thanh in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district to look at some puppies languishing in cages with no water.  Now the sight of baby dogs only six feet from a grill makes one wonder what their final destiny just might be, but the restaurant fortunately for all concerned seemed to be in the business of meats that quacked in a former life.  I am going to assume that these puppies were meant as pets rather than food.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

While we were standing around, some woman came up behind me and goosed my butt with both hands.  I am thinking to myself, lady, you can’t be walking up on western people at night like that.  You just might get your narrow little behind kicked into tomorrow.  I think I scared her when I quickly spun around since she scampered off while emitting some sound like, “ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.”

Typical Hanoi Street Food

Dinner time was upon us and walking around the steamy sweatbath called Hanoi was fast becoming more laborious than fun at this point.  One would think sundown is a time where cooler temperatures made even more pleasant by a nice breeze replace the daytime heat.  Not here.  Darkness brings air feeling quite like a wet blanket smothering everything.  The oppressiveness is like a giant foot grinding everyone into the pavement in one giant sweaty smear.  Actually, the only breeze out here blows from fans on the sidewalks.

This fan cooled joint called Nha Hang Loc Vit had no menu other than pointing to other people’s food and asking for the same.  We ordered what we hoped would be grilled duck, or vịt nướng, and within moments a plate of hacked bird bits arrived.  Why oh why did I think the duck here would be any different than chicken elsewhere?  We heard the steady whacking of a cleaver against wooden cutting board over and over and that alone should have been all the tip off we needed as to what was in store.  They take a nice section of the somewhat edible lemongrass rubbed duck festering in a glass serving cart and then obliterate it into tiny bone and fat filled pieces.

Nibbling around some of the nastiness is possible, but in the end we left just about as big a pile of crap as when we started.  People around us looked puzzled that we would discard what I can only assume they think are the juiciest morsels of the bird.  At least the nuoc cham dipping sauce and Thai basil leaves were good.  The bitterness of basil coupled with the sweet, salt and spice of the sauce are great together and somewhat mask the gaminess of the bird.  Who knows how long the meat chunks had been sitting out in this heat and I prayed the salmonella gods would not choose me as their next victim.

Though I can’t say I enjoyed this one, I am glad we loitered long enough to get sucked into a typical Hanoi street food shop for a meal I wouldn’t otherwise choose.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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