Ribbit Ribbit

4 Nov

eating frogs legs

I first tried Vietnamese food as a small child in the amazing indoor market in Toulon, near my grandparents’ house in the South of France.  There were a large number of Vietnamese refugees in that part of the world in the early 80’s and my brother and I used love visiting the elderly man who sat cross legged on the counter of his market stall, to watch him deftly folding fillings into rice paper wrappers, the pyramid of finished spring rolls growing quickly at his side.  We usually bought a box of the crunchy fried rouleaux de printemps to reheat at home as well as some of the uncooked summer rolls with the prawns showing pinkly through the soft rice paper wrapper, to munch whilst exploring the market.

Vietnamese food came to London when I was a teenager and we would occasionally visit the only Vietnamese restaurant we knew of, falling in love with Bun, the rice noodle salad with fistfuls of fresh herbs, a sweet, salty chilli dressing, and addictive chargrilled meat or fish marinated in lemongrass.  Nowadays, London has lots of Vietnamese restaurants and Kingsland Road in Shoreditch is Vietnam-town, with a string of cafes, restaurants and grocers servicing the lucky people of East London.

As West Londoners, we’ve made the pilgrimage to Shoreditch for our Vietnamese fix from time to time, but it’s a long way to go for a plate of spring rolls, so imagine my excitement when I discovered that one of the East London restaurants was opening a branch not ten minutes walk from our house.  The children were off school last week, so off we went to try out our new neighbourhood Vietnamese restaurant, Mien Tay.  Vietnamese restaurant menus in London can be disappointing, with too many dishes that are clearly toned down for Western tastes or lifted straight off Chinese takeaway menus.  Happily, the menu at Mien Tay is full of Vietnamese favourites like Bun and Pho, and plenty of frog and eel dishes to keep even the most adventurous eater happy.  Ned was very keen to try both frogs’ legs and using chopsticks and did a pretty good job with both.  I have lots of worries about taking our children travelling, but luckily food isn’t one of them.

Vietnam’s currently a ‘maybe’ on our itinerary, but I’m hoping to move it up into the ‘definite’ category.  After a lifetime of eating Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam, I think it’s about time I tried the real thing.

This post is part of Wanderfood Wednesday. For more travel food stories, head here.


7 Responses to “Ribbit Ribbit”

  1. Hot Cross Mum 04/11/2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Please can you come round to my house. My child is currently on eating lock-down and even refused pizza last night! AAArrgghhhhhhhhh!

  2. jessiev 04/11/2009 at 4:57 pm #

    YUM!! lucky you, to have such great food so close to home.

  3. Marina K Villatoro 04/11/2009 at 10:53 pm #

    I have never tried vietnamese food but it sounds great. I will definetely try it

  4. MumVersusKids 06/11/2009 at 10:39 am #

    Yum. I love vietnamese food. I can’t say I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting vietnam, although my ex did live there for a while (studying the long term effects of agent orange – v sad). In preparation for a possible visit, I got a very bad 2nd hand CD to learn basic phrases. The first one was “Day la ban toy”, which I assumed was “Hello, How are you?”, and practiced every day for weeks to get the tones right. It turned out to mean “This is my friend.”, which explains the very odd looks I got saying it to my ex’s colleagues (especially while standing on my own with no friends in sight)!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 06/11/2009 at 12:50 pm #

      HA! I’ll be sure not to use that phrase then!

  5. Krista 06/11/2009 at 6:51 pm #

    So lovely that your children enjoyed the food at Mien Tay – the picture of your son is so sweet! I am sure they enjoyed your visit, it is not often they will have such young diners.


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    […] like fussy eaters and I can’t be pandering to all manner of intolerances.  If it’s frog curry for lunch, that’s what you’ll have.  If my five year old son will eat it, so will […]

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