One of the surprising places we visited on this trip was Danang. I didn’t really know what to think of it at all other than knowing that many large and fancy hotel properties and golf courses were being constructed there due to the beautiful beaches there. I knew of Marble Mountains, of My Son Sanctuary, which is a sanctuary made in a similar style to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. But other than that, I had no expectations. So when we arrived and spent an evening eating and roaming around the streets of the urban area of Danang, I was a bit shocked. It probably felt the cleanest of all the cities we’d visited, not to mention the most developed. The streets reminded me of walking through Seoul, which was also supplemented by the fact that endless signs in Korean and Korean barbecue restaurants and spas lined the streets (this is clearly a major South Korean tourist destination). Lots of bright lights adorned buildings and bridges. The one major bridge had a dragon descending upon it and was constantly changing color; I read that for special occasions, this bridge actually shoots out fire! And it’s a bridge both for cars and pedestrians!
The food we ate here was delicious, as well, as Chris declared the main meal we had on Thursday evening to be his favorite and the best meal we’d had in Vietnam, which is saying a lot considering how much we’ve eaten thus far. We found a tiny banh xeo place in the back of an alley and feasted on banh xeo and grilled beef wrapped in lalot leaves. The two surprising things about these banh xeo were that 1) the sauce accompanying it was not the usual nuoc cham (“all-purpose”) light dipping sauce that was ubiquitous and that my mom and I make at home, but rather a thick, fermented shrimp/hoisin/pig liver sauce that had a brownish-red hue. Chris gorged on that sauce. And 2) these particular banh xeo actually had scrambled eggs on the edges of them. People often mistaken banh xeo for having egg in them because they are yellow, but they’re actually yellow because of the turmeric it is spiced with and usually have no egg product in them. but these ones definitely had egg scrambled at the edges!
“Maybe you can try this at home next time you make banh xeo,” Chris said, giving a not-so-subtle hint that he wanted this.
We ended the evening at a hole-in-the-wall che spot, a Vietnamese bean, jelly, and fruit place, where we shared a bowl of assorted colored, flavored, and textured jellies, taro, jackfruit, and a huge lump of durian added in, all mixed with a pandan and coconut milk liquid base.
Definitely gaining weight by the end of this trip, but it will all be worth it.