Fried Frog Legs
Inside: Fresh frog legs stir fried in chilis, peanuts, garlic, and onions.
Verdict: A-ok in our book. Maybe not the best frogs ever, but the sauce was darn tasty and whetted our rice for more!
Extra bits: Michiel, a traveling cook (at 3 star Michelins) we met along our travels, ordered this dish out of love for the divine amphibians. Although he was versed in the French preparation, he had never had southeast Asian style.
Banana Blossom Salad
Inside: Poached banana blossoms, rau ram, peanuts, chilis, garlic, shrimp, and beef! Paired with a crispy tapioca and sesame cracker.
Verdict: This dish screams Hue-style cuisine: unexpected pairings of flavors and opulence. Unlike common preparations for banana blossoms, this dish’s braised banana blossoms, that took on a meaty, almost poultry, texture. This dish was as delicious as it was fun to eat - delightful surprises around every corner. :)
Braised Whole Fish
Inside: A whole fish, seasoned with garlic, shallots, chilis, and ginger, braised in a foil packet. Served with paper thin sheets of rice paper, nuoc cham, and herbs.
Verdict: Yum, yum, and yum. This fish came out super tender and meaty. The fun came in filling super thin paper with filets and making small “tacos”. So finger-licking good, we ate the whole fish - we even ate the meaty parts of the head!
Che - Che bars are everywhere in Hue. There are at least 15 different mixtures of fillings you choose from. Just walk up to the cart, point at what looks good and wait as they pile them. The fillings included mochi balls in coconut milk, poached taro cubes, and sweet red beans to name a few. They are always topped off with shaved ice and coconut milk. Swoon.
Inside: Tapioca balls, sweet mung beans, coconut chards, agar jello, boiled peanuts, shaved ice, and fresh coconut milk.
Verdict: YES! The myriad of textures was divine. We especially loved the soft boiled peanuts, that are unlike roasted peanuts in so many ways. Digging into the shaved ice with long spoons and checking out the hustle bustle of the streets is a ritual we came to love in Hue.
Forgot the Name :(
Inside: Rice vermicelli, a bit of hot pork broth, chicharrones, peanuts, fresh banana blossoms, cilantro, salt/pepper.
Verdict: We were not wooed by this dish. Kind of left us wanting more.
Extra bits: We were directed to this dish by a women who heard us rave over the banana blossom salad (shown above). Thought the specific shop she directed us to was closed, we found a close second next door.
Inside: Flat tapioca and egg pancake, braised pork, pickled carrots and daikons, green papaya, served with nuoc cham.
Verdict: We hit the jackpot with this little dish! We planned on sharing just one, and we ate 8 in total. The airy texture of the pancake, the flavor of the pork, and the refreshing crunch of the vegis were a party in our mouths.
Extra bits: We found this place on the side of the road, and decided to take a seat (at a little red stool) after we saw their awesome preparation technique. Fluffy white squares of tapioca dough, topped off with a small piece of braised pork, were inserted into what looked like a hot tortilla press on and flattened to a perfect pancake. Egg was added and quickly seared into the pancake. As the Banh Ep came off the press, it was filled with vegis and brought to our table.