Măng Kho Thịt Braised Ribs and Bamboo – 279 of 365

Food Choices

Usually my day of flying is just one flight after another with no time in between.  A very rare break popped up on my schedule and gave me the chance to actually eat some food other than what spawns in the galley.  So off the airport canteen I went in search of a quick takeaway meal.

Luckily for my taste buds, airport food in Vietnam is a whole different animal than back home.  And I was actually able to identify the animal parts awaiting the hungry at this employee restaurant hidden deep inside the airport grounds well away from the terminal.  Were it not for the sounds of planes taking off, this very basic fan cooled joint would be right at home anywhere in Saigon.

I’ve eaten here a couple of times before, and it hits the spot when hunger strikes.  Arriving this particular visit at 9am seemed a good time for food at the pinnacle of freshness.  This proved an eye opener, however, for this means all that food festers in the metal serving pans until lunchtime still hours away. Choi oi!

Măng Kho Thịt

Food at these com binh dan joints could never be accused of being served warm and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sucked down a lunch matching the outside air temperature in terms of heat.  This seems to be par for the course in Vietnam and now the mystery of why is solved…Lunch bubbles up from the wok at breakfast time.

I carried my takeaway back to the plane and asked one of our cabin crew just what exactly I had selected.  Her response of “I don’t know” paired with a nervous giggle certainly did little to clarify what this pairing of ribs and bamboo was.  OK, so maybe she doesn’t know the English words but it’s the Vietnamese I was after.  I asked how to say it in Vietnamese and she just covered her mouth and giggled some more.  Our purser caught on to what I was trying to accomplish and even fussed a little at her sidekick.  I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble!  I just wanted to learn the name of a new dish which the purser promptly identified as măng kho thịt and “good for health.”

I can’t say this was the most tender animal product ever clumsily squished between my chopsticks.  But for a buck, who’s complaining?  The slightly sweet-salty meat fell right off bone and mercifully lacked all the other inedible animal parts usually along for the ride in Vietnamese cuisine.  The soft bed of rice mopped up the sauce so nicely.

Speaking of sauces, let’s digress and talk sauces for a second shall we?  You know how American style Chinese food has those corn starch thickened sheens eventually hardening into a thick gelatinous mess that curdles when reheated in the microwave?  Yes, that’s what I am talking about.  You’ve seen it.  Well, that doesn’t happen in Vietnamese cooking and this flavorful watery sauce was no exception.  Over here the liquids are natural and juicy with no thickening agents required.

All in all I am glad that the airport canteen of all places added a nice stop to this food journey.


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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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