29 May 2010

The Hot Pot Experience

There is no better way to really get under the skin of a country than to hang out with the locals.  On our last night in Hue, Jane and I stepped out for dinner unsure as to where would be a good place to eat. 

IP5251088t was a big city and we were in unfamiliar territory.  So we were quite fortunate when we ran into Phouc quite by chance.  He decided to join us even though he had just eaten and suggested we visit a dining hall where the locals hang out for hotpot.  Always out for for the authentic experiences we both agreed that would be great. 

It was similar to the soup place Dino had taken us to in Cambodia, where we had eaten soup with the locals on the street.  This time it was a long hall full of Vietnamese families enjoying the hotpot experience.  The noisy din of happy, hungry families greet us on stepping in.  I could tell from the buzz in the air the food would be great and also authentic.  A few stares follow us as we made our way to a free table. We are the only non Vietnamese here and it felt quite a privilege to have this experience! 

They brought the menu over but of course it was all in Vietnamese so we were grateful for Phouc’s help.  The Vietnamese love their soups and we have had many varieties on this theme. The hotpot experience though is special.  The soup is brought to table on a little stove with side dishes which range from morning glory to bok choi.  These vegies are thrown in the pot and you take it in turns to cook your own soup at table.  Once it is all comes to a boil, you help yourself to this delicious broth.  It is a cheap healthy meal here and one that families often enjoy together.  We brought Phouc a beer and raised our glasses to another local experience and great Vietnamese night out!   P5261129

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re travelling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” - William Least Heat Moon

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