I laughed yesterday as I was cleaning up some things around the house and this business card fell out of my stack of papers. I had been searching for it since I'd returned from Vietnam, and had been wanting to tell you about it. But somehow the story of the restaurant wouldn't have the impact unless I could show you the business card.
The weather for most of my trip in Vietnam ranged from temperate through the center part of the country to downright cold in Hanoi and Hue. By the time we got to Saigon, however, the temperatures were climbing and I was pretty hot the entire time. I'm sure the Vietnamese would laugh that I even thought it was hot, however, because it was pretty mild compared to later in the year.
Malik had met an ex-patriate American who told him that the "Boiled Goat Inn" was a must-go place - one of his favorites. As luck would have it, we spent one of the warmest afternoons in this open-air restaurant cooking over a charcoal fire. The list that you see on the business card was the entire menu of the restaurant: boiled goat meat, fried goat meat, roasted goat meat, mixed sour goat meat, or special goat meat boiled with Chinese Medicine. We opted for roasted goat, over fire, and a goat hot pot (aka "Boiled Goat").
Many things on this table typify the way that I ate in Vietnam. Toward the lower right-hand side of the table, the white things in the blue bowl are our "napkins" -- cold, wet towels that came pre-wrapped and were available at every level of restaurant.
Each area had their own beers -- in Ho Chi Minh City I usually chose between Saigon Red (seen here) or Saigon Green.
At this restaurant, we (or rather, Malik) cooked the goat over the fire, and then took the rice paper wrappers (bottom left-hand corner of the greens platter) and wrapped it with a combination of greens. We ended up cooking the okra and the spring onions on the grill like you would in Mexico, and then added the various greens. The only thing I avoided were the green bananas which were so tannic that they sucked every ounce of moisture out of my mouth.
If you look closely on that platter, you'll notice peanuts, starfruit, basil, shiso, as well as the aforementioned veggies.
The entire spring roll concoction was then dipped in a dipping sauce and devoured. I can still taste this dish -- it was incredibly delicious, lean tasting and not muttony or overly gamey. The hot pot was delicious as well, but the roasted goat is what I will dream about.
Lau De, The Boiled Goat Inn
105 Truong Dinh - District 3
Ho Chi Minh City