Saturday, 12 July 2008

Sailing In Halong

Halong had been on my list of must see places since I watched Indochine years and years ago, when I fancied myself in love with Vincent Perez...ahh.... ;) Halong was certainly beautiful but the itenarary imposed on us by company that ran the boat, Indochina Sails, was so rigid (2.30pm - swim, 2.45pm- take shower, 3.oopm - visit fishing village -you get the idea), I almost imagined that I was back at school :)

After a 4 hour journey from Hanoi that started at 8.30am, I was starving and really looking forward to lunch. To start, cream of pumpkin soup that was served in an elegant little bowl. The white swirls on the soup was coconut cream. A thick smooth soup with good pumpkin flavour that was a definite welcome to my tummy but I was so hungry, I was wanted more, MORE!

As soon as we were done with the soup, the bowls were whisked away and replaced by plates of green papaya with dry beef salad. A more polished version of what we had in Hanoi by Hoan Kiem lake, it was very tasty but yet again the whine......It was dismally small.

Next up, fresh rice paper rolls with prawn and mango. On the side was a little dish of nuoc nam or as they called it on the menu, 'traditional fish sauce'. As fresh rice paper rolls go, this was very light and refreshing but oh-so-tiny! You can tell by the photo on the left how small they were. Not so much on the length but the width - it was less than 2 fingers wide. I'm all for fine, delicate dining - just as long as I'm not feeling ravenous. I thought they were taking it a little far with the small servings, sigh... they could have at least served up two rolls.. I would have whined a little less lol

Yummy fried Halong shrimp with tamarind sauce. The prawn (yes, ONE) was very fresh, almost crunchy in it's freshness. The sauce was bordering on sweet rather than sour (as I assumed a tamarind sauce would at least be slightly tart). Togther, it made very good eating.

Pan fried chicken breast with lemon - which was actually pan fried chicken leg with lime leaves in tomato-y oil. It was rather delicious with nice caramelized bits and I was quite thrilled to find it was dark meat. I was still starving after eating this and shovelled down the decorative tomato flower that can be side at the top right of the photo. It would have done quite nicely with some pipping hot white rice.

This was the Special Indochina Sails Grilled Fish, which looked liked a posh version of cha ca, another dish we enjoyed while we were in Hanoi. The fish was was deep fried in saffron tempered oil and served up with deep fried dill, chillies and garlic. On the side was a handful (small;) of vermicelli and a sauce that was not particularly memorable. Compared to what we had at Cha Ca La Vong, I actually preferred this version. There was more flavour to this with the bits of deep fried chili and garlic.

Dessert - a fruit cocktail, little cubes of watermelon, dragonfruit and pineapple, with yogurt. As the pieces of dragonfruit were so small, I quite happily ate it with the other fruit. The yogurt was light, refreshing and rounded up the meal nicely.

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