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Superb tastes from across the Indonesian Archipelago – #Nusantara, #Ubud

“Nusantara is the Malayo-Polynesian name of Maritime Southeast Asia. It is a Javanese term which literally means “archipelago” in Old Javanese.[1] In Indonesia it is generally taken to mean the Indonesian archipelago..” Wikipedia

In Ubud, Nusantara is synonymous with a super delicious menu representing the flavours and favourite dishes from across Indonesia. With a superb range of sambals to accompany the small and large sharing plates, the menu gives diners the opportunity to try many regional dishes not traditionally offered restaurants.

The experience begins with a mixed sharing plate of sambals and salads to start with. The “Berbagi Rasa” (tasting plate) is accompanied by a card explaining all the different tastes on offer. I thought the Bakwan Keladi -deep fried yam with spices, padjri – grilled pineapple in a tangy tamarind sauce and Manisan Mannga – unripe mango marinated with sugar, chillies and lime juice were a standout. Great way to get our plates ready for the taste sensations to come.

We followed this with 3 small plates and 4 large plates (group of 5 of us) including delicious stir fried banana blossom, grilled baby squid in sauce, mackerel braised in turmeric with leeks, sambal prawns, smoky grilled pork with it’s own fiery sambal, braised beef brisket and free range chicken braised with green tomatoes in an amazing broth. The main meal was accompanied by a selection of 5 different and delicious sambals ranging from mild to hot.

Needless to say once again the Nusantara experience, like all Locavore establishments, is an absolute standout and is a must do in Ubud. It is always heartening to revisit restaurants and see that they have grown and even improved. Here’s my review from last years visit https://freespiritfood.net/2018/01/18/intriguing-indo-flavours-at-new-nusantara-by-locavore-ubud/

You can also do a cooking class experience at Locavore which comes highly recommended but unfortunately was booked out on this trip so we couldn’t get in. The classes are offered on Tuesdays and Fridays and can be booked on their website so book ahead. https://www.locavore.co.id/nusantara

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Best “Blooming” Breakfast at Yellow Flower Cafe, Ubud

Yellow Flower Cafe is tucked up away behind Penestanan Village in amongst what used to be used to be ricefields but sadly is now becoming more and more developed. Still it is only accessible by walking and with views across the Campuhan valley, so a beautiful spot for breakfast or lunch.

With delicious organic fruit, breakfast bowls and frappes, or heartier hot breakfasts with specials such as wheat free, rice flour pancakes and shakushka eggs – Yellow Flower is definitely the best spot for breakfast this side of the Campuhan Bridge. Excellent coffees as well.

Their business is definitely “blooming” due to their consistently fresh, organic produce and laid back Ubud vibe. They have just expanded with a tasteful new section with more tables and seating. The old section still has the best views over the valley though.

Here’s a link to their website which has a map https://yellow-flower-cafe.business.site. Easiest way to find it is to take the steps to the left of Bintang Supermarket to the top of the hill then turn right.

Go for Goreng at Bubu’s, Penestanan

Fried and roasted chicken has had a resurgence the world over. It is on menus from New York to Sydney to Bali in one form or another …southern fried chicken, chicken karaage, chicken popcorn etc…

Ayam Goreng or Fried Chicken is of course an absolute Indonesian staple and classic. Unlike Southern Fried Chicken, it is not cooked in batter but marinated and most often twice cooked in a rich mix of spices. The crispy fried floss mixture known as “kremes” served with it is traditionally made by adding extra grated galangal or coconut while frying.

The Ayam Goreng at Bubu’s Warung in Penestanan has a definite Balinese twist marinated in Balinese spices and with grated coconut to add crunch to the kremes…or “fried floss” that accompanies the chicken making it super tasty. Next time we go I am going to see if they will share the recipe with me!

We always also ask for Balinese Sambal Matah which they freshly make – a hot and tangy combo of eschallots, lemongrass, chilli and coconut oil that goes perfectly with the fried chicken. See my previous post https://freespiritfood.net/2018/01/02/balinese-sambal-matah-fresh-raw-chilli-sambal/

Simple but delicious fare!

Bubu Warung, Jalan Penestanan Raya, Penestanan, Ubud

Taking it Slow at The Slow, Canggu

The Slow is one of a new breed of contemporary restaurants in Canggu that are setting the pace for modern dining in Bali. The venue itself has a light and airy feel with lots of greenery and hip art works creating a chilled but stylish vibe.

The menu is inspired by Chef Shannon Moran’s travels around the world and if the fish/soft shell crab tacos, fish of the day with Balinese sambas and Korean burnt broccoli are to go by…he has certainly nailed a whole of flavours very well.

The menu is designed for sharing and portions are generous. We stuck to “shit beers” as the menu humorously describes local Bintang beer on a scorching day, but the choice of wine and beers is good for those who want something a bit more refined.

We were there for a short lunch but the vibe and food would be very conducive to settling in for the afternoon of grazing or a big nosh up dinner.

The Slow also has an adjoining art gallery and very good looking accomodation if you want the full experience. It is about 15 minute walk from Canggu beach. Here’s a link to their website for more information https://theslow.id/eat-drink-at-the-slow/

Lunching at The Lawn Canggu

A stunning day at Canggu yesterday so we headed to The Lawn Beach Club for lunch.

The club which is now 2 years old is beautifully appointed and maintained.

The menu offers an excellent range of cocktails, smoothies, and granitas as well as a range of small and large plates to share. Prices are mid-range to high by Bali standards with cocktails around IR120,000 and average price of meals about the same. However, the ambience and location make it pretty good value compared to similar beach clubs in Seminyak.

The vibe is also very relaxed with guests having the choice of lounging by or in the pool and pool bar, on the “fake” lawn or in the dining areas or in the beach itself under umbrellas.

We had a delicious grazing lunch of endamame, chicken karaage, split grilled prawns and a radicchio salad. The coconut mojito and pineapple granita were also tropical thirst quenching delights.

If you are staying in Canggu then this is definitely a great option for beachside dining and lounging.

Ji “Terrific” Terrace by the Sea, Canggu

Three years ago we enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the then newly opened Ji Restaurant, part of the Tugu Hotel in Canggu, in their original wooden temple building imported from Mainland China. Last night we returned to experience their newly opened Terrace overlooking the ocean and the perfect spot in Canggu to enjoy the stunning sunset over the Indian Ocean. The entire restaurant, bars and Terrace are beautifully decorated with Asian antiques and the atmosphere is quite unique.

As their website describes: “Ji Terrace by THE SEA carries the spirit of Tugu properties, which celebrate the rich cultural heritage and ancient history & legends through romantic atmosphere, interior and beautiful arts from ancient Indonesia and Asia, but what is different here is that the bohemian spirit of Canggu is very much alive. Beautiful statue of goddess of Durga from Rajasthan, centuries old urn from the Babah Peranakan family in Lasem, Java, Tibetan Mahakala masks, intricate Balinese Barong heads and many more artworks transport guests to a magical world of ancient kingdoms and quixotic legends, while seducing through beautiful Indian lanterns and sensuous beats of the best DJs on the island.

We started with delicious cocktails including the spectacular CoCo Sexo which is served in a coconut shell of dry ice and a tiki jar …with Sagatiba Cachaca, aromatic coconut, vanilla, passion fruit and a Timur with Tequila, Mango, Smoked Paprika, Beetroot shrub, lime, Cocktail syrup, Coriander.

Last time here we had enjoyed excellent sushi and our friends who had come for dinner the previous evening had once again recommended the freshness and creativity of the sushi and sashimi specialities of the Japanese fusion menu. We started with a selection of the chef’s choice Nigiri platter called Tic Tac Toe ..laid out like a noughts and crosses game. Every single offering was delicious and different with special toppings for each individual Nigiri including samples from the menu which can be ordered separately:

Tai Uzura – Seared snapper topping with breadcrumbs, parmesan and poached quail egg

Seared Gyuniku – Kobe style US beef with shoyu chimichurri sauce

Nihon Unagi – Grilled eel with grated ginger

Hotetaki – Scallion with seaweed & sambal matah

Sake Kyabia –Salmon with crème fraiche, green caviar & dill

It was the perfect way to try a wide range of the Nigiri on offer and at IR195 (about AUD20) extremely good value as well!

We added the Succulent Crispy Pork Belly with ginger, leek and scallion sauce and Amah’s Baby Back ribs served with Baby kalian, five spices and oriental molasses. Both of these were divine as well.

Great value, great atmosphere, great views, friendly and efficient service, and excellent food. Couldn’t ask for more and highly recommend a visit! So nice not to be disappointed on our second visit here.

Baked Eggs with Merguez Sausages and Chilli

Looking for a spicy start to the new year? Here’s my take on middle-eastern eggs with Lamb Merguez sausages made at our local butcher. (Nick’s Meats at Edgecliff Shopping. Centre for those of you who live in Sydney.)

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (2 servings)

3 large merguez sausages
1 red onion halved then sliced
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1-red chillies finely chopped
1-2 tomatoes halved or if using only one, then cut into 4 thick slices
4 teaspoons butter
Olive oil
Salt
coriander to garnish
Pita bread or tortillas to serve

Method:

1. Cook merguez sausages in a frying pan on medium heat 10-15 minutes until cooked.Rest and then cut into thick diagonal slices.

2. meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons of oilive oil in a separate frying pan, then fry garlic until crispy, add onions and chillies and fry until onions are slightly caramelised and translucent.


3. Remove onions and add tomatoes to the same pan, adding a bit more oilive oil if needed. sprinkle each side of the tomatoes with a pinch of cummin powder and salt as you are cooking them. You don’t want the tomatoes to break up, just brown on each side and keep their shape.

4. Place half the onions, tomatoes, sausages to reheat in a medium size frying pan or 2 seperate ovenproof dishes (leaving 2 “holes” for the eggs), add 2 teaspoons of butter to the pan, then break 2 eggs into the holes and swivel the pan or dish gently to allow egg white to reach edges of pan.

5. Place pan under hot grill and bake until eggs are cooked to your liking, preferably leaving yolks runny, garnish with coriander, eat with warm pita bread or tortillas.

Sticky date pudding for two

We are having a quiet night in and a special dinner to celebrate a New Year’s Eve as we wait to watch the annual fireworks spectacular on Sydney Harbour. It is always a special night as the first major city in the world welcomes in the new year.

It was a beautiful day here and we started with an early morning swim at Nielsen Park beach on Sydney Harbour, then divine coffee and croissants at The Grumpy Baker in Vaucluse. After the sea mist lifted this morning it turned into quite a hot day, but late this afternoon a thunderstorm cooled things down.

So, it’s going to be perfect to enjoy sticky date pudding with our French champagne in the lead up to midnight. As I write this the early 9pm “kids” fireworks show is already lighting up the harbour and Sydney skyline spectacularly. The rain has gone and Sydney is sparkling! Can’t wait to eat our dessert and see the “real” show as we welcome 2019!!

Thanks to Climb, Cycle, Repeat for this fab recipe for Sticky Date Pudding for two! I am going to add crushed walnuts to the batter to add some crunch!

http://climbeatcyclerepeat.com/sticky-toffee-pudding-for-two/

Tomato Curry Sauce ..with hard boiled eggs

Simple but very satisfying! Having tomato curry sauce (or tomato chutney as it is sometimes referred to) in the freezer means you can quickly whip up all sorts of easy meals using the sauce as a base. Just add boiled eggs or meatballs or a tin of beans and hey presto! Dinner is served.

Here’s the recipe for the sauce.

Tomato Curry Sauce

Ingredients:
2 large onions finely diced
5 large fresh ripe tomatoes diced

400g can of diced tomatoes
1 handful of curry leaves
1.5 teaspoon cummin seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferabley cinnamon bark available in Indian grocers but quills are fine if not)
5 cloves of garlic and equal amount of fresh ginger peeled
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1.5 teaspoons cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chicken stock (or water)
Coriander to garnish
Vegetable oil

Method:
Heat vegetable oil in medium size heavy based pan which has a lid
Add cummin seeds, curry leaves and cinnamon sticks and heat gently until fragrant
Add onions and cook gently until transparent
Add ginger and garlic and heat through
Add all powdered spices: chilli powder, turmeric, cummin powder, salt and sugar and mix through for 2 minutes.

Add fresh and canned tomatoes, cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to avoid tomato mixture burning.

Add 1 cup chicken stock/water and bring to a boil, then lower heat and then simmer for 20-25 minutes, adding more chicken stock/water as required to make sure the tomatoes break down but don’t stick to the bottom.

Halve quantity to serve 2 people or use whole quantity for 4 people. Freezes well.

Add hard boiled eggs, canned beans, tuna or meatballs and serve with rice or rotis to make a meal. Here’s the link to the meatball recipe With the same base in lesser quantity https://freespiritfood.net/2017/04/17/durban-indian-meatballs-in-tomato-curry-sauce/

Hurry into Uncle Chop Chop, NYC

Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay.

Uncle Chop Chop is one of the hottest new restaurants in New York that is already attracting 5 star reviews from early visitors for very good reason. Opened by two brothers from Australia, Callum and Morgan, Uncle Chop Chop is a laid-back but sophisticated take on Asian Fusion in the heart of West Village.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com

The atmosphere is one of a buzzy buzzy Asian “chophouse” and bar and the style reflects the charming, laid-back hospitality of Australians. Here you can enjoy great food in a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Great for groups of friends!

The menu is a superb mix of salads, grills, appetisers and curries with the freshest ingredients and scintillating flavours. The accompanying sauces, jams and broths are perfectly balanced and add just the right touch of spice.

Dishes are generous and designed to share allowing diners to sample a wide range of the menu. Another reason why it is great for group dining.

We feasted on Green Papaya Salad with Scud Chili, Peanuts, Tamarind; Corn & Squash Fritters with Tomato Chili Jam, Iceberg lettuce; Dumplings with Rick and Morty Szechuan Sauce, Special Fried Chicken and Steamed Snapper with Bok Choy, Ginger-Soy Broth.

All the dishes were spectacular as were the cocktails, especially the Passion Pop with passionfruit pulp, cachaca and chartreuse.

And the Steam Date Pudding with Palm Sugar Syrup and coconut transported us back to Asia, it was a divine end to super delicious meal.

The service is friendly, fast and informative. Our waiter knew all about the menu and the ingredients and was able to guide us on how much to order. Mind you we were very full but very satisfied after our eating expedition.

In a city where Asian Fusion is not as easy to find as in Australia, Uncle Chop Chop is a standout!

So Chop Chop and hurry over ….bookings are essential already.

Uncle Chop, Chop – 7 Cornelia Street, NYC https://www.unclechopchopnyc.com

Wikipedia:

Chop chop” is a phrase rooted in Cantonese. It spread through Chinese workers at sea and was adopted by English seamen.[1] “Chop chop” means “hurry” and suggests that something should be done now and without delay. The word “chopsticks” likely originates from this same root.[2]

Vietnamese turmeric and dill fish – Ca Ca La Vong at home –

When we were in Hanoi recently we visited the 200 year old restaurant Ca Ca La Vong to try their famed eponymous fish dish. We went to the original restaurant climbing up a ladder- like wooden staircase to reach the upstairs dining room:filled to the brim with locals and tourists enjoying the only dish offered on the menu.

Fish flavoured with turmeric, ginger and garlic and then sautéed with dill and onions, it was simple but absolutely delicious. The fish is brought sizzling on a gas cooktop to the table and fresh herbs are added before serving yourself with rice noodles, peanuts and spicy sauce.

Of course I had to try to recreate it at home which I did last night with some success. I trawled a few versions of the recipe online, including one from Anthony Bourdain, I settled for a hybrid. We also didn’t have rice noodles at home so I served with steamed jasmine rice …just as good.

Here are some pictures from the restaurant itself:

And here is my recipe:

Prep and marination time: 2.5 hours Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:

Marinade:
4 cloves garlic
1 large knob of ginger (at least equivalent to amount of garlic)
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional but authentic)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

For cooking:
750kg swordfish or ling fillets
2 onions finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely sliced
1 bunch of dill chopped into medium long pieces
3 stalks of spring onions chopped diagonally
1/2 bunch of coriander chopped roughly
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Chilli sauce:
2 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup of water

To serve:
Rice noodles or jasmine rice
Roasted crushed peanuts
Lettuce leaves for parcels
chilli sauce(see above) or chilli oil
Vietnamese coleslaw or Salad of your choosing

Method:

1. To make marinade, pound ginger, garlic and onion in mortar and pestle or process to a paste. Add rest of the ingredients.

2. Cut fish into 2cm or so pieces, then smother in marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Half an hour before cooking fish, cook rice and/or soak rice noodles in warm water according to cooking instructions on packet. Also prepare the rest of the herbs for cooking and make the chilli sauce if making.

4. Heat oil in heavy based frying pan, add fish and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes to a golden brown. Remove fish with a slotted spoon to a seperate dish.

5. Add onions and garlic to remaining oil and cook until softened and starting to caramelise, then Add half the dill (the hardier stem bits) and the white parts of the spring onions, heat through, then add the fish back in and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

6. Garnish with the rest of herbs and serve with peanuts, rice or rice noodles, lettuce leaves and side salad.

Serves 3-4

Pannetone Xmas Ice Cream Sandwich

The piece de resistance and finale of our Christmas feasting spree …toasted pannetone and Xmas ice cream sandwich. The Xmas ice cream involves softening (not totally melting) a 1 litre tub of vanilla ice cream with a jar of Mrs Robertson’s fruit mince mix and refreezing it. Reline the original tub of ice cream with glad wrap and then refill the tub with the ice cream mix overnight.

when you are ready, remove the ice cream from the fridge to soften slightly. Then toast your pannetone, slice the ice cream and make these “to-die-for” festive finishers! Divine dessert.

2018 Turkey and Prawn pad Thai

This year’s version triple the original recipe ….absolute fave with the “hungry” hoards on a Boxing Day.

Here’s the link to the original recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson’s recipe in her Feast cookbook.

https://freespiritfood.net/2017/12/27/turkey-pad-thai/

Annie’s Festive Duck Roll

My friend Annie made this delicious and festive duck roll, stuffed with sour cherries, pistachios and chicken mince. The flavours were perfect to kick off our Christmas lunch yesterday, served with sparkling burgundy and/or Prosecco.

Hoi An’s Miss Lien Thao tops street food stakes

We found numerous recommendations for Miss Lien Thao’s street food stall on Trip Advisor and online so headed out from Hoi An’s bustling old quarter, across the Japanese Covered Bridge to find out for ourselves.

The area across the bridge is known as An Hoi island and is where the night markets full more stalls selling cheap souvenirs, touristy bars and restaurants are located. We walked along the Hoai riverside which is all lit up with lanterns and light installations, away from the hustle and bustle to find a quieter row of street food stalls tucked at the end of the point.

Here locals and streetwise tourists were tucking in to delicious local food at local prices. Miss Lien Thao herself welcomed us warmly and we were immediately seated at the end of a long communal eating table, sharing with another Australian family who were already tucking in to delicious looking dishes.

The menu is enticing and we wanted to try local specialities…so ordered white rose dumplings, fried “open wontons”, beef noodles, stir fried chicken and sweet battered pork. Everything was absolutely delicious. Definitely a place to go back to.Our Australian neighbours said the whole fish was very good too.

The chilli jam which is made by Thao is also highly recommended and adds a sweet hot kick to the dishes.

It was a fun night watching the family helping out at the stall and the children running around having fun, and entertaining the guests.

All up with beers the meal was excellent value for money and a great experience.

Here’s a link to the Trip Advisor reviews for address and details:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Restaurant_Review-g298082-d4547223-Reviews-Lien_Thao-Hoi_An_Quang_Nam_Province.html

Flavours of Hoi An at Home

After enjoying our dining experience at Home Finest in Saigon so much recently, we couldn’t resist dining at their sister restaurant Home Hoi An.

Much more casual but still upmarket, the great news is that the menu, whilst including some of the nationwide favourites like Pho, includes Hoi An specialities with a focus on fresh seafood including crab, squid and prawns.

We started with deep fried seafood spring rolls. We were expecting standard rice paper rolls but were surprised instead by a delicious concoction of seafood encased in crumbs and deep fried to perfection, served with a delectable dipping sauce. The presentation in miniature hanging baskets was also superb.

For mains we opted for the grilled beef in piper lalot…thinly sliced beef grilled to perfection and wrapped in betel leaves with a topping of fried shallots, a Vietnamese speciality which we had not yet tried. We also had pork spareribs in black peppercorn claypot. We enjoyed both dishes but once again wished there were more of us to try some of the other specialty dishes from Hoi An that are featured on the menu.

Once again no room for dessert unfortunately but you can be assured there are tempting items such as homemade tropical fruit ice-cream and roasted pineapple!

As with Home Finest, here in Hanoi Bao and his team deliver the goods with warm and attentive service and fabulous food.

Situated in the middle of the night time action on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Home Hoi An is a great place to stop for dinner as you explore the vibrantly lit streets that are night time Hoi An.

Easy to book on line and make sure you do as it is rightly busy and popular.

https://www.homehoianrestaurant.com

Brash and buzzy: Vietnam House, Saigon

Australian Luke Nyugen’s Vietnam House restaurant in the very centre of busy Ho Chi Minh City is an assault on the senses with bold Art Deco interior design featuring vivid colours and a buzzy atmosphere. It feels exactly right where it is located in the heart of the CBD surrounded by the glitz of the high end designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and 5 star hotels.

The menu features Nyugen’s unique take on Vietnamese food that reflects the influences of growing up in Australia and his time spent in France through the use of imported herbs and ingredients, such as Wagyu beef, dill and salmon.

We began with the much talked about soft spring rolls with sesame seared salmon and salmon caviar. The addition of the salmon caviar added delicious bursts of flavour to this entree and the flavour of the salmon went really well with the dill in the rolls.

For mains we tried the much talked aboutBraised Wagyu Beef cheek in coconut juice, Phu Quoc green pepper, carrot, shallot served with Vietnamese baguette, and Grilled 5 spices free range chicken, fresh herbs, baby leek & thien ly flower.

The baguette served with the Wagyu beef was perfect to mop up the delicious and almost delicate sauce with the beef. I thought the beef needed to be cooked slightly longer because it wasn’t as tender as I would have expected and was still slightly chewy. The taste of the dish was very good and the carrots and potatoes stewed alongside the beef carried beautiful flavours. A side dish of vietnamese mint, lime and chillies gives diners the opportunity to add flavour to their taste.

The free range grilled chicken was absolute perfection though, perfectly spiced and juicy with flavour. The thien ly fowers with baby leek were an ideal combination – these edible flowers are sweet and taste like crunchy peas and are traditionally served lightly stir-fried in Vietnam.

Unfortunately we had no room to try dessert as much as I would have loved to try the Pandan Creme Brûlée or the Vietnamese Coffee Flan.

Overall it was a lovely dinner with a few rough edges including rather run of the mill service. A proper welcome to the restaurant and an explanation of the food concept would help new visitors or those unaccustomed to Nyugen’s style to better appreciate the menu.

I would still rate the experience highly as 4/5 and would go back to try those desserts next time I’m in town.

Home Finest, Saigon – a fine find indeed!

Managed to get a last minute booking into this highly recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor. It’s currently No 1 for Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and we can certainly attest to it’s well deserved reputation.

Set in a stunning modernist French Villa and with classic interior design of dark wood/black furniture, white walls, glass and plants everywhere, the restaurant draws you in from the moment you arrive.

Service is warm and welcoming. Anna who looked after us was very knowledgeable about the wine list and menu. She also told us a little about the villa and the local neighbourhood which was very interesting.

The food though is definitely a stand-out. We started with a deliciously hot-sour seafood soup, which was tart and tangy but mellower than a Thai Tom Yum, served elegantly in a coconut. We accompanied this with crispy pork and prawn wontons, served with a divine dipping sauce.

For mains we settled on stir fried duck with local basil and grilled eggplant with spring onion salsa with some plain rice. Both dishes were delicious with perfectly balanced flavours and complemented each other well. The crunchy peannuts in the eggplant dish really worked well with the silky texture of the steamed eggplant. (Anna made sure she checked with us at the start if we had any allergies. There is also an excellent vegetarian selection on the menu.)

We finished the meal by sharing the grilled banana rolls with sticky rice and delicious. Coconut cream sauce.

Going with a group to be able to sample more of the delectable menu is highly recommended …or just keep going back!!

Thanks again Anna and the team for a truly delicious dinner. We are looking forward to trying out Home Finest’s new restaurants in Hoi An and Hanoi as we continue our Vietnamese eating adventure.

Check out all details here: http://www.homefinestrestaurant.com

Ban Xeo Saigon lives up to Bourdain

This street food outlet in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City was made famous by Anthony Bourdain https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aI0u3eaQgcA in 2008. Renowned for their crispy Vietnamese rice flour crepes, Ban Xeo lived up to its reputation on our visit today. Of course it has now been discovered by tourists but the service and quality of the food has stood up to the test.

The ladies are still out the front cooking up a storm over the wood fire and prices are extremely reasonable. We enjoyed the experience and loved the crunchy crepes filled with shrimps, pork and bean sprouts and served with a delicious fish sauce dip and a mountain of fresh lettuce and herbs.

Get over the fact that it is now firmly on the tourist trail and try it when next in Saigon.

https://m.facebook.com/banhxeo46adinhcongtrang/