Restaurants & Bars

a few notes about laos, vietnam, thailand and cambodia

jrnlmkr | Jan 24, 201011:11 PM    

i'm sitting in the ho chi minh airport having just finished a most delicious bean sprout salad at a singaporean restaurant in the international terminal. i am looking at hanging chickens with heads still on, a tiny clue this isn't anything at all like a chain restaurant back in the usa.

although i've mostly eaten on the street for the past four weeks, thus can't really specifically name a lot of restaurants to recommend, i've had some amazing eating experiences i just have to share.

the best thing i've eaten this whole trip was on the main street, way down on the french end in luang prabang. it was about 11am and a tiny elderly lao woman was squatting in front of a large walk frying up coconut pancakes. i'd not eaten breakfast and was looking for something hearty, but couldn't resist. now, three weeks later, i can't get the chewy, sweet, lightly fatty taste out of my mind. it cost less than a dollar and i'm pretty sure i paid the tourist price.

also in luang prabang i ate at the three nagas after breaking away from my non-foodie friends. it was expensive for asia, but the service was lovely, though not without its laotian glitches. the foodies at the next table were taking pictures of each dish and though i didn't think anything i ate merited such permanence, the food was enjoyable. had some sort of fish steamed in banana leaves. mostly i liked it as a change from sitting on a filthy plastic stool in a crowded market.

on phuo coc, a lovely island worth a side trip in vietnam, i thought i saw god when i ate the pork cooked in caramel. sort of a soy caramel similar to something i tasted at tailor in new york, but so good, i was actually digging at the crusty bits with my chopsticks hoping to magically find more.

other treats? love sapadilla, which i've learned to say in vietnamese, but can't find my notes. it looks like a shapely potato and tastes like a juicier date.

tried to return to chote chitr every day i stayed in bangkok, but she was closed for new years weekend, so i ordered banana flower salad in cc's honor every chance i got. it tasted ok everywhere, but nowhere near as good as cc. i know they have caramel pork there, but have not tasted it, so can't recommend.

in hanoi, had a great bar b que'd meat meal on the street in the old section of town. it was on the main street and was the place clogged with people. i have no idea what i ordered, but when my bread came, it was smashed down, grilled and had a light sugary coating. again, i think i saw god that night.

there's more, but need to catch my flight to siem reap.

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