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Day 89 – Errands and Desserts

May 31, 2010

Dateline: Hanoi, Vietnam – Monday, May 31, 2010

Today was a Errand Day, which meant I wandered around town looking for laundry detergent (easy success), contact solution (epic fail), an inexpensive China guidebook (success/fail), and writing and mailing postcards (success). Since I didn’t rent a motorbike, this took the whole day. I walked around and sweated a lot. I did nothing you want to hear about.

With that in mind, I took to writing a more abstract piece about my experience here in Vietnam. I got 1,500 words in and realized it wasn’t working. I’m exhausted now and can’t bring myself to either rewrite it or try my hand at something else. So, instead of something conceptual you’re going to get something incredibly concrete: what I had tonight for dessert.

For dinner I opted for a street hawker bowl of pho. Tasty, delicious, all while sitting at a low metal counter on what, in the U.S., would pass for a six-inch tall plastic foot rest. Food is partially context and the whole thing came together nicely. Tell me where, at home, I could have a meal like this and I’ll buy you lunch at Boulevard.

Afterwards, I decided to splurge. I dropped in on one of the pricier restaurants in town, Green Tangerine. I’d come in earlier in the evening to check out their menu but decided not to go for a full blown meal. It would have cost me a full $20 and I wasn’t in that spendy of a mood.

Instead, I swung by for dessert. Nothing on that list more than $6, so I could keep my wallet relatively safe.

I skipped the dessert medley when the waitress told me it was a collection of standard faire (creme brulee, cake, etc.) and opted for the weirdest thing on the menu. Something called the “Eastern Necklace.”

Now, here’s the part where I wish I’d written down what the menu said I was getting instead of going from memory. What came out was nothing like I expected. Five pairs of little circular objects. I was so confused I asked my waitress if my order was correct. I’d thought I’d be getting some pineapple curry concoction. Nope, this was it. The pineapple things were two little yellow balls. So, let’s review what I got, keeping in mind this is partially from memory and partially what my faulty palate tasted.

Starting from the top of my plate: Two purple-looking balls that the menu said were honey sorbet. Two yellow balls of pineapple blended with curry. Two cream puffs paired with slices of ginger. Two cherry things paired with slices of pineapple. Two kumquats stuffed with ice cream.

I’m all for being daring, but, as a whole, the plate was a bit of a mess. The purple balls didn’t taste much like honey (why were they purple?). The cream puffs were a bit soggy. The pineapple curry things were tepid both in flavor and in temperature and they had the consistency of fibery rice paste. The kumquats were very close to being good, but were so sour, the ice cream stuffing couldn’t overcome the mouth searing finish. The two cherry-like things were the best, but that’s because it felt like little had been done to them, which isn’t good considering they were supposed to be soaked in cognac (I think). This was no Mango Rooms experience.

In the end, I spent five times what I spent on the bowl of pho. I did not get five times the value. In fact, I’d say the pho was five times more satisfying than my dessert.

Oh, well. This being Southeast Asia, I didn’t spend too much. Six bucks was a relatively minimal risk. I’ve paid more for worse stuff back home.

On the other hand, it’s about half of what I paid for my hotel room. Yikes. To make myself feel better I’m going to grab another bowl of pho.

GALLERY: Click through to see random pictures of Hanoi’s Old Quarter which Mervyn took while running errands.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sally permalink
    June 5, 2010 8:35 pm

    When you get back, I’ll take you out and show you what $6 gets you for dessert in LA.

    • June 6, 2010 3:58 am

      I will hold you to this promise. And, since you’re offering, I assume it will be your $6, not mine.

      • sally permalink
        June 6, 2010 1:30 pm

        That’s the lawyer in you making that assumption.

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