It seems we’ve been going 100 miles per hour this whole year, and we probably topped 200 heading into the wedding. Saigon was great, but we still had the pedal to the metal. The energy of that city is about as frenetic as it gets.
Mui Ne ended up being just what the doctor ordered. We both finished our first books, laid out, swam, took walks on the beach and ate some really good food.
Pho for breakfast? I’ll take it! Good Pho, as we’ve found is at once subtle and bold – a perfect balance of beef, anise, onion, lime, herbs, and really damn hot peppers. I need to figure this out on my own stove – my version has as much finesse as me trying to get out of a slippery footbath hot tub in ill-fitting asian spa panties. You don’t wanna know any more about that though…
Some other culinary highlights from Mui Ne included Claypot Fish in Caramel Sauce – Sweet, salty, fatty fish in a stone pot with rice. Lime and Salt Chicken – these folks really know how to do chicken skin right. Pork Congee – basically Vietnamese grits, but soupy, with chunks of rich pork and scallions – another breakfast hit. Pork wrapped in Vermicelli with sweet Fish sauce – could have eaten 20 of these little guys.
The fruit here is abundant, strange, and delicious. Tried dragonfruit, Thailand apples, lychee, and more familiar pineapples, watermelon and asian pears.
After a couple nights at L’Anmien, we ventured out to a hip place called Sankara for dinner and drinks. Caki had lamb chops with balsamic and polenta and I tried the Vietnamese Chicken Coconut Curry. Both were excellent with a French Rose. The drinks and people watching that followed finally got us thinking: “hey, we’re on f*ckin’ vacation!”.
So we finished our stay in Mui Ne with yet another bowl of soup for breakfast – this time it was Vietnamese Macaroni Soup – funny, it had tortellini in it, but it was still a great hangover cure, with onion, carrot, parsnip and ground pork in a light chicken broth.
That afternoon, we were picked up by our driver and headed towards Dalat. About 265 km in 7 hours tells you how rough this drive was. Song Pha pass was very dicey, as we climbed a few thousand feet on a craggy one lane road. We stopped at Polong Gia Rai Cham temple in Phan Rang. It’s a pretty slick 14th century temple erected by the Chams for their king.
We cleaned up and made a reservation at Le Rabelais in the hotel. It was supposed to be one of the better restaurants in Vietnam, but I think they had an off night. Our entire meal was pretty underwhelming, particularly considering the price, due to one reason: our food was really under seasoned. Seemed to be not a grain of salt on anything. It wasn’t bad per se , but definitely wasn’t outstanding. We still had a wonderful time, largely due to a phenomenal Chateauneuf de Pape and the spectacular dining room. Thank God for good wine!
Notice the empty dining room. Shoulda seen that one coming. We are in Dalat one more day then we head back to the beach and Hoi An on our first flight within Vietnam.