A Tet Feast
As the Year of the Snake comes to a close, people across Vietnam are eager to take their long-awaited week(s) off to embark on their journey back to their hometowns where they will ring in the Year of the Horse.
To celebrate Tet in Vietnam is to an Tet, literally to “eat Tet”, which shows the importance of food during the holiday. Some of the food served during Tet is eaten year-round, while other dishes are particular to this time of year. It is also common to see vegetarian dishes during the holiday because many believe eating them is good luck.
Hoang Yen restaurant has had a healthy following from the Vietnamese and Viet Kieu community for years. They have in recent times opened up an array of restaurants such as their buffet, hotpot and seafood-style places around the downtown area. Despite all the new additions and recent renovation, the 7 Ngo Duc Ke location is still considered the standard for a southern (mien nam) family-style meal. Opened in 1980, it’s a perfect place for families to have their Tet feast.
Our normal family feast includes coconut root salad (goi cu hu dua), which is a blend of shrimp, carrots, onions, basil, cilantro and, of course, coconut root. They are all marinated in fish sauce, with shrimp chips served on the side. Stir-fried ‘thousand mile’ flowers with garlic (hoa thien ly xao toi) is another common dish found on the family table. The flower buds are used in southern Chinese, Vietnamese and northern Thai cuisine, where they are stir-fried or boiled in soup. Grilled eggplant (ca tim nuong mo hanh) with spring onions and marinated fish sauce is a simple yet wonderful dish.
Main dishes are comprised of bitter melon stir-fried with eggs (kho qua xao trung) and sour soup with a choice of shrimp or fish (canh chua). Canh chua is the standard when it comes to soup in the south of Vietnam, and it pairs perfectly with any caramelised clay pot dish. This particular soup blends the taste of sour, spicy and sweet. The sourness comes from tamarind, starfruit, pineapple and tomato. Another dish, mudfish caramelised in clay pot served with a side of pickled cabbage and steamed rice, is an altogether unique way to end the meal.
If you’re stuck in Saigon for Tet, or if you’re looking for a good southern Vietnamese meal, then check out Hoang Yen. Happy Year of the Horse!
7 Ngo Duc Ke, D1
+84 83 82 34 564