Thursday, March 29, 2007
Lau De Truong Dinh (Broiled Goat Inn), Saigon
I knew that we had arrived at a good place (105 Truong Dinh, 9304296) when each table was adorned with a minature grill for you to cook meat at. That was exactly what we got and more. These guys specialize in goat meat, sliced and marinated for you to grill away at your discretion. Once done to your satisfaction, dip it into some of that fermented tofu and chili sauce, roll it up with some veggies and rice paper, and eat away.
Actually, the rice paper part was optional, but I preferred it since the freshness of it all provided a nice counterpoint to the smoky goat meat. It tasted as good as it sounded. It was of course similar to Korean BBQ, but clearly Vietnamese instead. All of this got washed down well with some local beer, which apparently this food was designed to go with.
It then caught me by surprise when the grill was subsequently replaced by a clay pot full of a stew (similar to the lau from last night, and hence the name lau de). Various veggies and thin egg noodles got dunked into this thing for easy slurping, but what really got interesting was another ingredient that was brought out for dunking: pig brains. I'd never had brain before (get your mind out of the gutter, please), and never really thought to try it. But given what we had at here, I had to give it a shot. I was expecting it to be rather tasteless (or at least, taste in a bad way), but the brains were surprisingly rich and creamy; almost like a soft cheese. I don't think I got any smarter as a result of eating it, but it was much better than I thought it would be.
Well, the broth in the pot tasted pretty good after some more ingredient dunking, despite initially reminding me of instant powdered chicken noodle soup for some reason. It was a nice way to cleanse the palate. But the main draw for me was clearly the first half of the meal. Meat on a fire and beer are without a doubt a match made in heaven.
Digested at 8:27 PM
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