Only one?

Sep 10, 2013 in

When I am ordering something in a restaurant, I often get this question, “only one?”. I normally answer it with “yes, I am just one person” but didn’t quite understand at first what they meant, as the thing I ordered was absolutely enough for me.

I found out that the Vietnamese always order several dishes, for example one portion of mixed rice and beef with sour vegetables. With the more people you come to the restaurant, the more different dishes you can order and share them amongst your friends.

So, going to the restaurant is quite the social thing here, often I see groups of 6-10 people at one table. This is similarly to Spain where people go out in the evenings to drink beer (and have tapas) in groups. Speaking of Spain, they also got beer here and it is even more watery than Spanish beer. Most people will drink “Bia Hoi” if available, fresh no-name draught beer that is said to be only good for a few days or so. It is incredibly cheap, one glass for about 5000Đ (~0.15€). (As opposed to bottled beer about 15.000Đ and up)

In the rear part of menus in many restaurants they offer whole chickens, whole piglets etc. The price for those dishes is not given because the price depends on how much they will have to pay for it on the market. Also popular is to order a hotpot for the group.

Another thing I can say about Vietnam is that the meat is fresh. Really fresh. Has-just-been-alive-fresh:
Seafood restaurants will have a wall of aquariums with live fish, turtles, shrimps and crayfish in front and especially in rural areas you will see cages with chicken or sometimes even piglets in front of the restaurant which they butcher then directly in the kitchen for you if you order a whole chicken.

Then, there is Phõ, very popular here. Lena loves it because “these soups don’t taste like anything”. I don’t because of the same reason.
A soup is cheap though, perhaps 10,000-20,000Đ (0.30-0.60€) and those soup-stalls will be one of the last things still open at night. These noodles are served in tiny stalls which consist of just a little stove on the pavement beside the street, have a look at the photo.
Also, note the tiny furniture on the photo. This is normal and the Vietnamese do have no problem to sit down there. Even in more proper (indoor) restaurants, the furniture will often be of the same height.

Otherwise, I can say that the Vietnamese are the kings of spring rolls. There are some variations and all are absolutely delicious.