Sea air the perfect backdrop to traditional dishes
|Shrimp cocktail: Fresh shrimp with mustard at VND300,000 ($15) is a tantalising mixture of sour, sweet, bitter and salty flavours.
Just a one-hour hydrofoil trip from HCM City, Vung Tau is home to magnificent beaches as well as seafood restaurants, like the popular Ganh Hao 2 in the famous Back Beach area. Thu Anh samples the fare.
I couldn't stop my heart from beating faster while standing outside Ganh Hao 2 restaurant anticipating a romantic dinner.
The night sky above me was majestically infinite in scope. The waves kissed the shore gently. My lungs were full of fresh air and I could taste the salty sea on my face.
Dining at Ganh Hao 2, a big restaurant, I thought, would probably be a reasonable proposition in terms of price. Even so, sometimes money should not be an obstacle to joy.
Located on the Back Beach near the seashore, the restaurant includes separate areas for different groups of customers. Its staff can serve 300 diners.
To enter the restaurant, I walked up stairs, finally seeing a big gate made of natural materials that looked like grass. The doormen smiled at me.
Although I was deliriously hungry, I came to a halt when, before me in the main entrance to the dining room, I saw food samples in different colours and shapes, displayed in lit stalls. The waiters told me that I could make my selections from the array of samples.
|Seafood extravaganza:The restaurant offers a wide variety of fish as well as shrimp, crab, oyster, snail, squid and octopus. Seafood hotpot is cooked in complex Vietnamese and Thai styles. — VNS Photos Thu Anh
I decided to dine outdoors.
The restaurant's Vietnamese cuisine, especially the traditional seafood dishes, and the quality service would meet the expectations of even the most fastidious customer.
Twenty different menus offer dishes made of fish, shrimp, crab, oyster, snail, squid and octopus, as well as dishes like seafood hotpots cooked in more complex Vietnamese and Thai styles.
What I especially liked was its capacity to serve not only large parties of diners but also quick meals for one individual.
To start off, I ordered a fried seafood spring roll for VND160,000 (US$8), which included shrimp and crab mixed with vegetables and mayonnaise.
Served hot on a big white plate, the rolls were crispy outside but tender inside. I dipped them in the special salty sauce that turned sweet as I savoured it in my mouth.
|Seashells by the seashore: Steamed sweet snails are presented with green onions, yellow ginger and carrots.
Next were the steamed sweet snails in ginger for VND200,000 ($10), presented beautifully with green onions, yellow ginger and carrots on top.
The fresh three-centimetre long snails, which had been caught on the same day, were the real secret of the dish. For flavour, I added a mixture of salt, pepper and lemon juice.
I continued with fresh shrimp with mustard at VND300,000 ($15). It was a tantalising mixture of sour, sweet, bitter and salty flavours.
The dinner ended with a bowl of porridge cooked with baby oysters.
Restaurant: Ganh Hao 2
Address: 9 Ha Long Street, Commune 2, Vung Tau City, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province
Tel: (64) 3577 777
Hours: 10am - 11pm
Comment: One of Vung Tau City's most popular seafood restaurants.
The porridge had a sweet taste from the fragrant rice and fresh oysters. I was unaware of the hidden methods used to create it, but I felt the chef put his soul in this dish.
During dinner, I could hear the waves dancing on the sea, which probably enhanced the gustatory pleasure.
Although the desserts included fresh fruits and sweet porridges, I opted to pass as I was full.
Our portions were so large that each dish was more than enough for our party of five. And the staff of 70 waiters served us professionally, with no added service fee attached to the bill.
Although it is a bit out-of-the way from my home in HCM City, I will definitely return again, both for the food and the serene atmosphere. — VNS