Written by Eric from Aiea on 23 Oct, 2009
The Blue Moon hotel has an outdoor barbeque buffet in its courtyard in the evenings. The courtyard can be entered either from the street or from the bottom floor of the hotel. I saw the set up for it going on as I returned from…Read More
The Blue Moon hotel has an outdoor barbeque buffet in its courtyard in the evenings. The courtyard can be entered either from the street or from the bottom floor of the hotel. I saw the set up for it going on as I returned from the walking around town in the rain, and one of the waitresses had asked if I planned on eating there that night after they opened up. I decided to give it a try and went out about 7pm and was seated by the waitress I had met. The tables and chairs were aligned in a pretty nice set up on the pave stones, and there were two other tables of people eating there. The food was set up so that there was a section that had noodle soup , a selection of meats and vegetables for grilling, a selection of different foods (Viet and Japanese), a wonderful selection of breads, and then deserts and fruits. The selection looked pretty promising – so I thought that my choice of eating close by was a good one.With a beer on my table, I went to the soup table and chose chicken and some other items for the soup, and it was brought to my table while I was choosing which items I wanted grilled from the meats and vegetables. I returned to the table and spiced up the noodle soup and got it just right and it was very good with a great broth. There is an art to getting noodle soup to balance out with green onions and chili. When the grilled items arrived at my table – I found that the cook had lightly grilled them – for what looked to be a few seconds. That could be great if I did not have chicken and onions and eggplant as part of the few items I had picked. I took the plate back over to the grill and asked if they could grill them longer for me. I returned to my table, and my soup bowl was gone. I had eaten about 5 bites from it – so it was kind of obvious I was not done – but I had left the table – and so they cleared it. They left my glass of beer but also cleared the bottle, saying it was empty. The cooks brought the grilled items back – and the chicken was still undercooked – and I sent it back again and went over and watched it cook and let them know when I thought it was grilled. By this time – I wanted it to be very well done. One always has to have a bit of patience, but after that experience, I decided I did not want anything else they had to grill. Maybe the cook was new – or maybe Dalat just does barbeque different than Saigon, but whatever was the case – eating the barbeque was not worth the extra effort I had to make. I had a very good meal of baguettes and fruit and deserts – and made sure my table did not get cleared when I would go back to get some more. One of the great things about Dalat is the abundance of fresh fruit, and strawberries were in season at that time. I actually would have paid more money just for the tropical fruits alone if the buffet was in the USA! The pineapple was perfect – a little sour and a lot of sweet, and I really enjoyed it! Somehow as the rain started, it really was not that bad of a meal after all. Close
Written by Quan on 18 Jan, 2001
I feel like I have to share with you great memories of a place that used to be, and I am sure, a place that if you look hard, you can still find. In my youth, we used to go to Dalat once a…Read More
I feel like I have to share with you great memories of a place that used to be, and I am sure, a place that if you look hard, you can still find. In my youth, we used to go to Dalat once a year. I came to anticipate the scent of pine trees, the gushing waterfalls, the exploding color of its gardens, and the mist that hangs there in the early summer morning, which of coursse is Dalat's wet season (although there are many sunny days even during the rainy season). But one of the highlights of any trip to Dalat, for me, is preparing for it, and driving there. I remembered that my Mom used to prepare for the trips several days in advance. We would pack our big coats, our long-sleeved blouses, and leggings, which I only got to wear a few times in those ill-fated ballet classes that my Mom thought would turn me from a tomboy to what, a girl? But the best is the food. We only have one type, very basic, but we only have it when we go to Dalat.
So what is it? The first ingredient is a lot of rice, placed in a piece of fabric, then squeezed repeatedly until all the air has gone out. It's not too much different from making sushi rolls, except that the bamboo mat restricts the squeezing a bit, and the sushi roll is a lot fluffier. After the squeezing process, what you would have is a cylindrical roll of rice that is as heavy as a piece of brick. The rice is then sliced into one-inch thich slices, then wrapped in a plastic bag. That's our starch. What to accompany the rice? My mom would prepare this chicken dish, which is actually fairly simple. The chicken is cut into large chunks, with all of the skin and bones still on, then stir fried in garlic until golden, then you add soy sauce, sugar, and lots and lots of pepper. The sauce is thick, and when drizzled on the rice, makes heaven. That is what we always bring.
The drive to Dalat took us through strange sceneries. The city is at high elevation, the Truong Son mountains seemed huge to a little girl, and we passed through switchbacks, something you never see around Saigon and the Mekong Delta. We always stopped by streams that owed their births to the gushing waterfalls, that again formed because of the huge dam near Dalat, and amidst that beautiful scenery, had our fabulous rice and chicken lunch. While the absolute magic of that was gone when I went back and took the same trip to Dalat, the logic being that my whole family was not there, I still love the rice, the chicken, and the streams.
Written by Eric from Aiea on 21 Oct, 2010
One of those things about travelling around everywhere, you often meet some of the greatest people in places you would never expect. Returning by flight to HCMC after my first trip to Dalat, I was walking out to get a cab to the hotel and…Read More
One of those things about travelling around everywhere, you often meet some of the greatest people in places you would never expect. Returning by flight to HCMC after my first trip to Dalat, I was walking out to get a cab to the hotel and saw that one of the girls there in line for a cab had a UNV of Hawaii backpack. I asked her if she went to UH, and found out that she was doing the Masters of Business program that was offered by UH in HCMC! We split a cab and ended up becoming great friends as we discussed all the things we both loved about Oahu – where she had gotten to go to as well.A year later, and I was once more headed to Dalat, but this time around Phuong and her friends were going to take me around and show me what they liked about the city and its cultures. I had asked them to take me not to where the tourist go, but the places an insider that lives in the city likes and would want an outsider to see. They had three full days to take me around and do as much as we could. The only downside would be that I was coming in the rainy season when it was likely to rain about 2pm each afternoon since late July was only time could get to go. But they sure made a great start in recommending the Saigon Dalat Hotel as the place I should stay in.If you ever really want to see a place – there is no better way than to have friends show you it. I am a great admirer of both Vietnamese culture and history, and am always like an open book in learning while there. My days there were spent riding around the mountains and across the hills on motorscooters, going to waterfalls, lakes, pagodas and temples, different markets (both the Central market in downtown and out to the ethnic museum/market), small specialty restaurants (such as Tomato and Tu Hanh), and even to two of the girls houses to eat. It was by far one of the very best learning experiences on Vietnamese culture that I had had in my many trips there since my initial trip to Vietnam 7 year ago. My new friends did very good at taking me out to their favorite flower park that was next to a Danish water purification plant (seeing a Danish flag flying over any place so remote is unique in itself). It was a very beautiful place by the lake and they brought along a picnic lunch that one of the girls had made and that we had on a raised covered area by the woods that looked like a small wooden pagoda. We spent the whole morning wondering around and testing my knowledge of tropical flowers and the tribes of the hill peoples of Vietnam. There were no other western tourist I saw - though we did see plenty of Cham tourist and a few Nungs as well. The Vietnamese people in Dalat are such super friendly people, and always eager to test out their English with you, or to laugh with you as you mispronounce Vietnamese. The foods from the area include large numbers of dishes with fresh fruits and vegetables – since it really is the growing area of Vietnam for some many things because of the soil and climate there in the mountains. I was lucky enough to get homemade ice cream made with fresh Dalat strawberries at one girls home. The ice cream was French style – not American – and absolutely spectacular. That she was the assistant chef at a large hotel kind of gives you an idea of what the whole meal at her house was like and why she knew the local specialty foods so well. That was a food vacation experience of a lifetime because the focus of food culture I have learned in the USA is always Saigon/Hanoi/Hue and here was something very different.So when it comes to travel, just remember that sometimes the greatest of friends might just be on that same plane with you and that sometimes being friendly may well get you a whole group of friends and a travel experience of a life time. I look forward to seeing again three great friends on my next visit to Dalat and keeping them laughing the whole time again. And should they ever come to the USA for a visit - it sure will be difficult to compete with the experience they had shown me. Close