Hue Specialties

"flour, shrimp, pork, and spies"?!
I wonder what kind of spies they use.
CIA? KGB? or MI6?

Since June 6, 2010:
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Pho Sai Gon/西貢河粉

Rating: Worth a Shot
Address: 10 Nguyen Van Cu, TP. Hue, Viet Nam

Another fine restaurant recommended by folks at Binh Duong I Hotel. English menu available.
又一間Binh Duong I旅館的帥哥推薦的好餐廳。有英文菜單。

Pho Bo/牛肉河粉/Beef Noodle Soup VND 20,000

I found a worm in the greens. The silver lining of this cloud is the absence of strong pesticide. The dark side is the risk of paracite.


Hence the best way to eat vegetable is not salad, but slightly cooked in at least boiling water. It is washing rather than cooking.


Banh Bao/肉包/Pork Dumpling VND 7,000

Fillings include pork, mushroom, a quail egg, and sausage.


Chicken Banh Bao is VND 10,000.

Since May 12, 2010:
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Ngoc Son Temple/玉山祠

Ngoc Son Temple, Ho Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi, Viet Nam, October 20, 2009

This is a famous place of historical and cultural interest at the heart of the city of Hanoi.
Being built on the Ngoc (Jade) Islet and dedicated to Confucian and Taoist philosophers and the national hero Tran Hung Dao. The temple dates back from time immemorial and was expanded in 1865 with many works that we can see today - Thap But (Pen Tower), Dai Nghien (Ink Slab), The Huc (Welcoming Sunshine), Bridge, Dac Nguyet (Moon Contemplation) Pavilion, and Dinh Tran Ba (Pavilion Against Waves) - each of them has a significant meaning.
Together with Ho Hoan Kiem (Sword - Restored Lake), it has become a beauty spot, beautiful and historic, of the capital of Hanoi."
玉山祠 龍門/Dragon Gate "硯台筆塔大塊文章 唐科末榜士子階梯"
"人間文字無權全憑陰德 天上主司有眼單看心田" "The words of human carry no weight, deeds are the only things that matters; The Lord above has eyes, that watch only the hearts." 虎榜/Tiger List
硯台/Ink Slab
 Ngoc Son Temple 敬字亭/Gazebo for Tribute to Words This is a Chinese tradition I have only read of, but never seen it in action. Words used to be considered so sacred that papers with words were to be treated with proper respect. Hence disposed paper with words were required to be incinerated in order to sent the words back to heaven. “道有主張北文明之象“ "The priciple of Tao is a sign of the civiliation in the north, in the direction of the Big Dipper;" “人同瞻仰南禮樂之都“ "Everybody admires the land of rites and music down south in the state of Jiao." Jiao is a state established by a Chinese emperor in 111 B.C. It is an ancient name for the the region consists of middle and northern Vietnam, and part of the southern China. Practically  it is the "Chine" in the French word "Indochine". Friendly staff giving away free city maps. 親切的職員免費奉送河內地圖 1968年還劍湖中捕獲的巨鱉/Giant turtle caught in 1968 龍馬河圖 神龜洛書 Notice there is a sword on the turle's back. This signifies the legend of Sword Restored Lake. In short, it is the Vietnamese version of King Arthur, with a giant turtle replacing the lady in the lake. 注意龜背上有柄劍。長話短說,這個故事是越南版的亞瑟王,不過湖中的仙女換成一隻巨龜。 筆塔/Pen Tower Free counters!











Since May 16, 2010:
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Close Shave in Prague/有驚無險布拉格


When I visited Czech Republic, I had the luck of running into World Bank Summit. Hotels in Prague was flooded by attedants and protestors. It took me quite some effort to find a bed. In the lobby of the hotel, there were local business cards. One of them read "Relaxation... Turkish bath, massage"

I thought that place was a SPA. So I hiked across the city after walking the city the whole day, and a concert. At the gate, there was a security searching everyone with a metal detector. In the hall, a super model like hottie greeted me. She was going to show me their facilities.

The first stop was a lounge with strip tease. (hmm... this is Europe. Folks have a very open altitude on this aspect...)

The second stop was steam bath and massage tables. (Now we are talking.)

The third stop was lockers for valualbes (How thoughtful.)

Finally... A small room filled with a king sieze bed! She said this would be my room after I made my selection in the lounge.

Crap. I was still an over aged virgin then. In addition, I was dead tired after hiking around the city the whole day.

"This is not what I expected." The lady's expression turned stern. "What were you expecting?" "I thought this was a spot that I could take a bath, and perhaps also massage." The lady became ever so tense, and led me to the manager. At the entrance, the manager was surrounded by a bunch of super models. My hostess was speaking in Czech, which I knew only how to say "thank you" then. Everyone listened with very straight faces. After her report, the manager turned to me, waved his right index finger, and said "No! No! No! This is all about sex. Come back, when you are ready." At the drop of his voice, everyone burst out laughting, including myself. That was my exit cue.










I picked up this brochure on my second visit to the city of Prague in 2006. This time, there were two lines more: "Girls, Girls..." and "Escort Service".

I wonder if I have any thing to do with that revision.

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Imperial Dining/宮廷料理: Y Thao vs Tinh Gia Vien

Imperial Dining, Hue, Vietnam

IMHO, don't. If you insist, then Y Thao is the place to go. Do NOT go to Tinh Gia Vien.

These restaurants are tourist traps. In addition to being over priced, almost no locals would visit these places. Tinh Gia Vien even quotes their prices in US dollars. Y Thao has relatively good value. That explains why I saw many tour buses dumping loads of toursts there.

Folks at Binh Duong I Hotel advised me not to try this style of dining. I should have listened. They recommended Y Thao after I insisted, because of the darn guide book.

個人淺見:別當暴發戶。如果您堅持要嘗試的話,推薦Y Thao,千萬別去Tinh Gia Vien。Y Thao相對來說投資報酬率較好。所以很多遊覽車送整團的遊客來這裡吃飯。

Binh Duong I旅館的美眉勸我不要浪費錢,可是我因為那本爛旅遊指南,堅持要試。所以她就推薦了Y Thao。

This is when I got really pissed by this crappy guide book. It recommended attempting imperial dining when in Hue. Even worse, it recommended Tinh Gia Vien, the worst restaurant in value I have ever been in during my entire visit to Vietnam.
More about 越南
這是壓垮駱駝的最後一根稻草。Tinh Gia Vien是我在越南吃過投資報酬率最差的餐廳。對這本指南徹底喪失信心。


Tinh Gia Vien:
Address: 7/28 Le Thanh Ton

It was quiet as I was the only customer that evening.

Y Thao:
Address: 3 Thach Han

Some white trash allowed their brats to roam wild in the garden making a lot of noise.

Y Thao wins on hardware, Tinh Gia Vien on software due to lack of business.
Y Thao的硬體較優。Tinh Gia Vien因沒生意所以清靜。

Tinh Gia Vien: Menu/菜單

Dance of the Phoenix/鳳舞:

Tinh Gia Vien:

Y Thao:

Tinh Gia Vien wins by slightly better taste and guantity. The making of this dish is not as difficult as it appears. You first roll up layers of materials into a stick, then slice. The main ingredient is Vietnamese ham, available almost every where.
Tinh Gia Vien以質、量勝出。這道菜其實沒那麼唬人。做法跟紫菜飯捲類似:先捲成一根棍子,然後再切片就很容易了。主料是到處都買得到的越南火腿。

Pineapple Lantern of Assorted Appetizers/鳳梨燈籠開胃菜:

Tinh Gia Vien:

Y Thao:

Y Thao wins by presentation, quality and quantity.
Y Thao以質、量、呈現勝出。

Surprise Soup of Hue:

Tinh Gia Vien:

Y Thao:

Neither leaves a lasting impression on me. Let's cconsider this round a draw.

Tinh Gia Vien: Vietnamese Spring Roll in the Form of Peacock/孔雀春捲:

Y Thao: Banh Khoai

Y Thao wins.

Appetizers from Tinh Gia Vien do not differenciate much from the spring roll. Banh Khoai has more local colour of Hue. Y Thao also wins in workmanship for this dish. However, Hanh is the place to go for Banh Khoai.

Y Thao 勝出。

Tinh Gia Vien的開胃菜與春捲出現重複性,而Y Thao的Banh Khoai比較有順化的地方特色。而且這兩道菜比起來,Y Thao的手藝較好。但是真想吃Banh Khoai的話,還是跑一趟Hanh吧!

Fried Macsofish Sautee with TomatoShrimp/蝦:

Tinh Gia Vien: One shrimp

AFTER the "dessert" was served, I questioned the hostess why there was no fish? Then she informed me she "replaced" the fish with shrimp for me.


Y Thao: Two shrimps

I would choose two shrimps over the service.

Tinh Gia Vien: Sweet and Sour Papaya in the Form of Dragon/龍形酸甜木瓜

Y Thao: oops. I forgot what this was./我忘了這是蝦米碗糕。

Grilled Beef/烤牛肉

But who cares. This papaya thingie is available at Hanh at peanuts!

Tinh Gia Vien has one dish less than Y Thao.
Tinh Gia Vien比Y Thao少一道菜。

Tinh Gia Vien: Caontonese Rice in the Form of Tortoise

You must be freaking kidding me. Is this Vietnamese imperial dining or Chinese street vendor? Is Vietnamese still kissing Chinese rear end? Even from Cantonese rice point of view, this dish fails the oldest trick in the book: Use over night rice, for it is dryer. So the fried rice does not become soggy. If you crave for fried rice while in Hue, Chau Loan is the place to go.

開啥子玩笑?這到底是越南宮廷料理還是中國路邊攤?難道越南還在P中國的LP嗎?就算從炒飯的觀點來說,這道炒飯也超級失敗。看過周星馳的食神吧?沒用隔夜飯炒!又溼又軟,一塌糊塗!就算您在順化想吃炒飯,也請上Chau Loan,甭來這兒挨宰吧!

Y Thao: Lotus Rice/蓮子飯

Y Thao wins hands down. Lotus rice is one of the speicialties of imperial dining. The rice is loaded with flavour. This delicate dish deserve proper appliciation.

Y Thao大勝。蓮子飯是宮廷料理的特色之一。值得細細品味,千萬別狼吞虎嚥。


Tinh Gia Vien: I fail to grasp their sense of humor./哈! 哈! 哈! 不好笑。

I wonder if Tinh Gia Vien tired at all. The banana is still green. Nina Cafe's free fruit is better than this./拜託~這叫甜點哦?綠的香蕉也敢拿出來下兮下正!Nina Cafe的免費水果都比這裡強!

Y Thao: In addition to a well presented orange, the "flowers" are actually edible green bean pastries./除了弄得還不錯看的橘子外,那兩朵「花」其實是可以吃的綠豆糕。


Tinh Gia Vien: US$20/VND360,000, for prix fix only.

Y Thao:
Prix Fix: VND 215,000
Lemond Juice: VND 15,000
Coffee: VND 10,000


Tinh Gia Vien:
Snobish and neglect. This is not acceptable consider I was the only customer that evening. The hostess did not inform me the replacement of fish with shrimp in advance. At the end of the meal, she neither informed me it was the end nor bringing me the bill. She just let me hanging there dry. I thought she was bringing me the real dessert. After I had waited long enough, I had to cry out loud several time to get her attention. I regreted that I did not dash.

Y Thao:
There were enough warm affection from the wait staffs to leak through the veil of "imperial" snobishness.

Conclusion: In Vietnam, street food rules!


Additional Reference/延伸閱讀:Temple

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