December 18, 2016

Plus 1 trip to Vietnam day 3: dinner under the stars, part 2

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After vowing never to return to Hotel Continental Saigon, we still needed to find a place to have dinner in Ho Chi Minh City, so we decided to walk over to the Rex Hotel.  Cung Dinh Restaurant was the other recommendation from Foodie Baba, and I had originally made a dinner reservation for tomorrow night, but hey, we needed a contingency plan... and this was the best option when you're walking around town without access to Internet or Google Maps.

Walking into the lobby, the location of the restaurant wasn't apparent, so we asked staff at the reception for directions.  The helpful gentlemen came out from behind the desk and showed us the way.  We walked over and found - to our utter amazement and disappointment - that there were no customers in the restaurant.  The restaurant was busy catering for a wedding in the adjoining hotel courtyard... the same situation as the Continental Palace Restaurant we had just left!

We tried to get someone's attention, but were ignored by the restaurant staff.  We went back to the hotel reception and once again asked for help to confirm our dinner reservation tomorrow.  This time the helpful staff escorted us to the restaurant, and found someone from the restaurant who reassured us that our reservation for dinner tomorrow is still valid, as there is no wedding scheduled.

But our problem remains unresolved.  Where would we eat tonight?  As we were about to head back to our hotel for Internet access so that I could pull up addresses of restaurants on my hit list, Hello Kitty came up with a brilliant idea: why not head to the Rex Hotel's famous Rooftop Garden for drinks and a few bites?  That would certainly take the edge off what was turning out to be a frustrating start to our stay in HCMC...

We got ourselves a table on the edge of the rooftop, right next to the stage and overlooking Ho Chi Minh Square.  There was a lot of activity going on down on the street, including a pretty good band singing live.  Soon that would be drowned out by the live band performing right next to us...

We started with a round of drinks to unwind from the stress.  I know that both drinks look green, but one of them is more girlie than the other.  Guess who had the girlie drink?

Khai vị ba miền : chả giò, chạo cá thì là, bò nướng lá lốt -

The spring rolls were pretty tasty.

Fish paste with dill was pretty good, too... and came wrapped around a stick of sugarcane.

The beef wrapped in betel leaf was the same that I had at Princess D'Ân Nam Resort two nights ago, but the one at the resort was much better.

Cánh gà đút lò nhồi pate và nho khô - these stuffed chicken wings looked pretty good...

Cutting them open revealed the stuffing, which had pork pâté whose flavor reminded me of Cantonese liver sausage (膶腸) with their distinctive Mei Kuei Lu (玫瑰露) notes.  There were also a few green peppercorns providing a little kick.  Very, very delish.

Chả cua nhồi xôi lá cẩm - these stuffed crab shells came with magenta leaf sticky rice on the side, which were pretty tasty.

The stuffed crab meat had green peppercorns, wood ear, and what looked like carrots inside.  Also pretty tasty.

This was a pretty good dinner, and I'm glad we were able to come up with a good alternative for tonight.  We enjoyed watching people hanging out on the street below, and I was definitely a little mesmerized by the revolving crown a stone's throw away from our table...

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