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Taste of Thanh Hóa in the heart of Hà Nội

Update: November, 18/2018 - 09:00
Delicious dish: The slightly sour taste of the powdered grilled rice blends well with the taste of fermented pork. — VNS Photo Phương Linh
Viet Nam News

Hương Vị Xứ Thanh celebrates the culinary style of Thanh Hóa through typical dishes. Owner Lương Xuân Nguyên is so passionate about his food he specially sourced most of the ingredients from the province. Hoàng Linh reports.

It has been decades since my first visit to Thanh Hóa, but the local specialties have always stayed with me.

Across the central province, from the districts of Nga Sơn, Thọ Xuân, Tĩnh Gia, Hà Trung to Hậu Lộc, you can find unforgettable dishes such as “nem chua” (fermented pork), “bánh cuốn tôm” (shrimp rolled rice crepe), “chả tôm nướng” (grilled shrimp balls) and fish hotpot prepared in a unique style.

When Lương Xuân Nguyên, from Đông Sơn village, opened a restaurant chain named Hương Vị Xứ Thanh (The Taste of Thanh Hóa), I was sure I’d become a regular visitor.

The eatery celebrates the culinary style of Thanh Hóa through typical local dishes.

Nguyên is so cautious with his business that he buys 90 ingredients directly from Thanh Hóa to ensure his food tastes as authentic as possible.

The first restaurant in the chain is located on Trần Quốc Vượng Street in Cầu Giấy.

Though it is quite far from the city centre, the restaurant is spacious with a big yard and plenty of indoor seating.

The first dish I order is one of the most famous dishes of the region – the shrimp rolled rice crepe and grilled pork balls. Unlike the rolled rice crepe in Hà Nội which are filled with a mixture of ground pork, wood ear mushroom, and shallots, the rolled crepe of Thanh Hóa has fresh shrimp stuffing.

The shrimp is peeled, chopped and seasoned. These are then placed onto a wide sheet of steamed fermented rice batter and roll them around. This dish is not served with Vietnamese pork sausage or steamed eggs but grilled pork balls. The pork balls are made from minced pork, seasoning, and herbs, grilled on charcoal. The shrimp rolls and grilled pork balls should be eaten with sweet, sour, or chili sauce and some aromatic herbs.

You should also try another type of roll – the grilled shrimp rolls. It’s not very difficult to make the dish but fresh ingredients and patience are decisive factors for a successful serving.

Warming: The shrimp rolls and grilled pork balls is served with sweet, sour, and chili sauce and some herbs. — VNS Photo Phương Linh
Typical cuisine: The rolls are made with pork, which is fried then ground with dry onion and sliced rice cake. — VNS Photo Phương Linh
Great space: Though it is far from the city centre, the restaurant is spacious with a big yard.— VNS Photo Phương Linh

A touch of spiny bitter gourd is required to make the reddish colour of the dish.

Each roll is just 4cm wide and 7cm long, which is relatively small for an average Vietnamese roll. That is why the chef must be skilled to make sure the roll is tight enough and doesn’t break when it is grilled.

The sauce is made with sliced green guava and carrots, fig, chili, garlic, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and herbs.

Don’t forget to try the most famous dish from Thanh Hóa – nem nướng (grilled fermented pork). In order to make the dish, pork is mixed with powdered roasted rice then fermented for one or two days.

When serving, the fermented pork balls are wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. We know that the pork balls are ready when the liquid from the pork oozes from the banana leaf. The ball is then unwrapped and ready to eat. The slightly sour taste of the rice blends with the taste of fermented pork. Chili sauce and fig leaves are served with the dish.

All of Thanh Hóa’s local specialties are delicious and unique, using a lot of spices. They suit the winter atmosphere and are great to share with friends.

 

 

Address: 91 Trần Quốc Vượng Street, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội

Opening time: 10am-10pm

Price: around VND200,000/pax

Comments: spacious, cozy, nice taste, reasonable prices

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