An American friend and I recently discussed our mutual disdain for the average piece of Vietnamese chicken. Anyone who has ever eaten some of this highly interesting stuff knows what I am talking about. It’s a case of bird meats cleaver to become one hacked up mess. Each piece is an abomination of bone shards, fatty skin, tough meat and whatever else once residing inside that unsuspecting chicken. Picture an ordinary chicken drumstick. Now hack the hell out of it with a sharp metal blade, toss it on a plate, and serve it. Voila, dinner is butchered.
He told me his Vietnamese friend explained that they enjoy this type of chicken because it reminds them of when the country was poor and people were starving. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t need some sort of reminder like that when I am paying good money for food. I am sure my ancestors ate raw potatoes out of the ground due to starvation, but that doesn’t mean I want to do the same. I asked my own local friend if this was true, and she said, “Yes. Very good for health.”
Com 37 at 37 Ly Tu Trong in District 1 once again hosted my lunchtime experimentations, and I threw all caution to the wind and once again ordered chicken. The sweet chili fried chicken was so edible that I hoped my good luck would carry over once again with a bird selection of a different kind. The final verdict? Sort of…
This chicken had all the markings of something less than healthy. Inside the metal serving pan it sat covered in golden hued oil. What doesn’t take good that isn’t good for you? I of course convinced myself that if I peeled back the skin, all the bad for me stuff would be gone. Never mind that the oil gets under that fatty layer as well.
I watched a Vietnamese guy effortlessly work his chicken down to the bone using a spoon and fork. All I could manage to do was shred this nonsense into a fatty, bone shard filled mess. His bones were satiny smooth while mine carried all the disgusting debris a chicken could possible produce. How do they do clean a bone like that over here? What skills am I missing that I cannot use western utensils to properly eat chicken?
The oily sauce had a slight hit of spice and I smeared what little chicken I could cull around in it. What little chicken meat I managed to pick away from the carcass was indeed tender and tasty. The two pieces just couldn’t yield enough to properly satisfy me. I think I would need the family bucket size to extract a proper meal. That heap of white rice filler sure did come to the rescue.