Steamed sea crabs are always the top choice of my children every time they stop for a meal at Cây Bàng. VNS Photo Minh Phi.
By Mỹ Duyên
“Where would you like to eat when we are in Vũng Tàu?” is a question I always ask my children every time we head for a holiday in the southern coastal town, about 120km from HCM City.
And the answer is surely “Cây Bàng”, a familiar destination for our family in the beach city for years.
What distinguishes Cây Bàng from other seafood restaurants in Vũng Tàu City, Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu Province is its unbeatable location and its fine but affordable dishes offered in a cool and airy atmosphere with spectacular ocean views.
'Sò huyết xào bơ tỏi' or stir-fried blood cockles with garlic butter sauce is among the fine appetisers at this seaview restaurant. VNS Photo Minh Phi.
Located on Trần Phú Street, the beltway running across the sand and small rocky beach that surrounds Vũng Tàu, the two-storey steel structure, designed like a small cruise ship, serves seafood delicacies prepared in the southern style: steamed, boiled, deep-fried, baked or grilled.
The restaurant’s expansive menu features a tempting selection of seafood dishes, including hotpots, stir-fried noodles, rice and soups, starting from VNĐ40,000. Sea snails, chicken, beef and pork are also on the list among colourful recipes from different parts of the country, designed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or just for snacking.
For visitors to this sunny town, this great venue provides a memorable time, a chance to hang out with friends or family on the seashore and enjoy freshly caught seafood.
Cây Bàng, the two-storey steel structure, designed like a small cruise ship, serving seafood delicacies is a familiar destination for visitors to the beach city of Vũng Tàu. VNS Photo Minh Phi
When we visited Vũng Tàu for the first time, my children and I had no idea where to eat fine food at a good price. Local connoisseurs suggested we have a meal at Cây Bàng, a 10 minute drive from the centre of the city.
When we arrived at Cây Bàng, we were instantly seduced by the magical ocean view during a particularly beautiful sunset.
The décor and furniture are in white, creating a cool, breezy ambience for diners, especially on bright days, of which there are many. It is a perfect destination for family or group dining.
At the entrance, an impressive aquarium welcomes guests with a selection of live seafood, and a grand staircase leads to the two main dining areas -- upper and lower levels with a wonderful seaview.
We found our seats by the window at the lower area so we could have the best view of the ocean and the rugged landscape all around. For me, nothing is better than exploring the pure natural beauty and clear turquoise sea as the sun gently dips into the ocean, while enjoying the exquisite seafood of the restaurant.
While waiting for the food, my two children asked to step down to the beach to play in the sand and sea, and of course take photographs.
Though it was not meal time, many guests were already there. We opted to start our meal with the restaurant’s special appetisers, bào ngư nướng phô mai (abalone baked with creamy cheese, VNĐ40,000 each) and sò huyết xào bơ tỏi (stir-fried blood cockles with garlic butter sauce, VNĐ140,000 per serving).
We felt stunning aroma arrive as the two dishes were brought to our table. Covered with golden milky-white creamy cheese, the abalone looked so succulent and its fragrance was irresistible.
Next were the blood cockles, as fresh and juicy as could be, the garlic butter enriching their flavour. Both dishes were delicious. The two starters satisfied as appetisers, awakening our senses. These dishes should not be missed.
Next were the crabs. Two big steamed sea crabs at VNĐ440,000 were a treat for my twins. It was a bonus for their hard days of staying-in studying because of a long social distancing period.
When the waiters appeared with the crabs, my twins began to drool. “This is the freshest crab I have ever had, Mom. I love it so much,” my daughter said.
The crabs seemed not to satisfy their hunger. I had told them to save room for other dishes.
To fill up their stomachs, I ordered cơm chiên cá mặn (stir-fried rice with salty fish and eggs, VNĐ130,000), a standout of Cây Bàng, and lẩu chua (sweet and sour hotpot with stingray, VNĐ320,000), one of the best local dishes.
My children had never tried the fried rice in this style before. “Its taste is unlike others and the rice was so crispy. I love it,” my son said.
Skillfully prepared, the rice was fried to be golden and crispy and served in a clay pot to keep it warm and flavourful.
The twins indulged in the fried rice before they ended their meal with the sour hotpot, which was my favourite. The stingray was boneless, its flesh savoury and chewy.
To make the hotpot perfect, as recommended by the kitchen, we put stingray fillets into the pot when the broth was boiling. Once the fish was well cooked, we added vegetables, coriander and rice-paddy herb.
The broth was a perfect balance of sweet and sour flavours, just a little bit spicy. The stingray and the herb and fried garlic made the broth irresistibly juicy and fragrant.
The fish is best served with the fish sauce and topped with chopped chilli. The pleasing taste of the soup excited our taste buds and we finished the whole pot.
Though I was almost full after the hotpot, the twins would not leave without the ice cream, always their choice for dessert, and perfect for the beach.
The large meal had satisfied our appetite, and the long list of our favourite dishes will have to wait for our next visit to the beach city in the summer. VNS.
Cây Bàng Seafood Restaurant
Address: 93-95 Trần Phú Street, Vũng Tàu City, Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu Province
Telephone: 0254 3838 522, 0793 838 522
Comment: Seafood delicacies and Vietnamese cuisine at an affordable price. Nice seaview with a cool and airy ambience.
Price: from VNĐ40,000 per dish, takeaway service available