Viet Nam News
By Thu Anh
If you are tired of sampling rich, high-calorie western food, Khoái restaurant in HCM City will prove a nice change, serving up traditional Vietnamese dishes in a central region style with homemade ingredients.
On the restaurant’s shop sign and on menus, the word Khoái, which means delicious, tantalises guests from the outset.
The restaurant’s beautiful Asian atmosphere differs from other Vietnamese restaurants downtown.
Looking at its list of specialities, you’ll find gỏi cá (raw fish salad) and lẩu (hot pot), bún bò (beef vermicelli soup), bánh xèo (Vietnamese crape served with fresh vegetables), and dozens of dishes cooked with bún (fresh rice vermicelli), popular with both local and foreign customers.
Dishes range in price from VNĐ50,000 (US$2.2) to VNĐ500,000 ($22).
Gỏi Sứa (jellyfish salad) is a nice start and easy on the pocketbook, at just VNĐ135,000 ($6), served on a big plate for group access.
The salad features sliced jellyfish, onion and ginger, sweet vinegar, aromatic herbs and vegetables, and is served with bánh đa (sesame rice cracker).
The jellyfish is poached in hot water for a second before mixing, leaving a crunchy texture.
Left savouring its sweet, sour and peppery flavours, you can then move on to the hot pot entrée with vermicelli called lẩu cá dìa (hot pot with rabbit fish, a species of fish living in the sea of Nha Trang and Phan Thiết ), a refreshing plate at VNĐ315,000 ($15).
The dish is cooked with tomato, pineapple, onion and chilli. When the broth begins to boil, you take the fish out of the pot and put it on a plate in fish sauce. Then, you place the vegetables in the pot.
Part of the dish’s secret is its quality fresh rice vermicelli, or bún.
The chef orders bún from a homemade shop every morning. Bún starts as milled rice flour that is mixed with other ingredients to a pasty consistency, before it is drawn through a bamboo strainer that shapes it into small, circular and white strings, making authentic bún.
Another great choice is the grilled fish called cá dìa nướng at VNĐ400,000 (the price is based on weight).
The rabbit fish is seasoned and covered with banana leaves before it is cooked on charcoal. The aroma and flavour is a mixture of sweet, salty and chilli.
To finish, nothing is better than rice. You could try Cơm chiên hải sản (stir-fried rice with seafood and herbs) at VNĐ80,000 ($3.8). The dish is also served with salads and is suitable for vegetable lovers.
Lẩu cá dìa and Cơm chiên hải sản servings are enough for four people each.
Another good choice is bánh xèo, a popular dish in Việt Nam.
The restaurant’s bánh xèo in central region style is smaller and thicker compared to the larger fried versions in the northern and southern regions.
It contains coconut milk and turmeric and is stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, mushroom, green onion and bean sprouts.
The bánh xèo crêpes are served with fresh aromatic herbs, including mint leaves, basil, and fish leaf.
It should be dipped in a diluted sweet and sour fish sauce.
Finally, a nice surprise is the sweet soup menu of chè at only VNĐ30,000 each.
The restaurant’s varieties of chè are made with red and green beans, and lotus seeds cooked in water and sweetened with sugar.
The dish may be served hot or cold depending on your taste.
All in all, a nice Vietnamese meal at a reasonable price and even better atmosphere. If customers want to inquire about the food and how it is made, the restaurant encourages them to drop by and the staff will be glad to provide the answers. – VNS
Address: 3A Lê Quý Đôn Street, District 3, HCM City
Hours: 9am - 11pm
Comment: Traditional dishes from the central region.