Há Cảo Chinese Dumplings – 339 of 365

Há Cảo

The lettering on the modified motorbike turned food cart invited the hungry to a breakfast of há cảo.  Having no idea what these two simple monosyllabic words meant, I walked right up and took my place amongst a small crowd jockeying for position.  I figured if people were this anxious to grab a taste, this must be some pretty good stuff.

Small white balls frying in a pool of oil gave me great pause, and I told my body sorry for what it was about to digest.  My turn finally came, and I pointed to the crispy orbs.  The man shook his head while lifting a lid containing a steamed version instead.  Before I could process what was going on he had dumped a portion of the “healthier” version into a plastic cup.  Is it possible my body could have telepathically sent a dire message saying protect me from all things fried?

I am really not sure why he even bothered asking if I wanted soy or hot sauce since when I said soy only, he proceeded to douse my breakfast in both.  That’s ok though.  The combination turned out to be quite palatable and necessary.  The fish mint leaves had to go though.  I just can’t get into any leafing herb tasting like it’s been marinated fifteen years in rancid fish sauce and peppermint candy unless it is well tempered and hidden by other competing herbs and flavors.

Dim Sum Stand

The outer shell of this há cảo has little if any taste and the mushy stuffing inside barely registered.  Indeed, most of the taste bud stimulation came from the sauce, and now I see why that foolishness called fish mint is thrown into the mix.  Still, I just don’t need that much authentic herbal enhancement at seven in the morning.

I would have used the six inch wooden spear included for the fifty cent price of this meal to pick a dumpling from the cup right there on the sidewalk.  However, ominous black clouds were rolling in, and I am seasoned enough to know what was soon imminent.  I barely made it home when the sky exploded its fury all over the neighborhood and everyone trying to start another day.

I wound up eating this one in the air conditioned comfort of my apartment and felt a million miles removed its native habitat.  Perhaps this one registered so bland because of my sterile home surroundings sheltered from all the grit and noise out on the streets adding so much flavor to even the most basic of meals.

Back home in the US, eating enough dim sum to make an entire meal can make quite the dent to a wallet.  Vietnam came to the rescue once again where the streets offer affordable food for the masses.  These chewy dumplings made of tapioca starch came stuffed with a small amount of shrimp.  I must say I neither enjoyed or disliked this one.  This food experience was about as neutral as they come, and the dumplings filled me up with little flavor or fanfare.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

One Comment on “Há Cảo Chinese Dumplings – 339 of 365”

  1. no
    October 25, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Notice the kid selling Ha Cao, he ain’t much older than his customers. Kinda sad.

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