PANO – On the first evening in Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, we wandered around small old streets, not far from the hotel we were staying in, to enjoy the peace in the place which was the embodiment of the old legendary Japan. Surprisingly, there, we saw a Vietnamese restaurant with the plate in Vietnamese scripts “Tiệm ăn Hương Việt” (Huong Viet Restaurant) with an eye-catching lotus on.
Enjoying lotus tea and Hue’s rice noodles in Kyoto
Studying the menu in three languages; English, Vietnamese and Japanese, I was very surprised at many Vietnamese traditional dishes as water morning glory, noodles with grilled pork, water fern cake, fried spring roll, and Vietnamese crepe (rice pancake folded in half and filled with shrimp, meat, and soya bean sprouts). Many dishes which require adequate ingredients and spices are also served in the restaurant. Those include Hanoi Pho, Hue beef noodles, and different soups. Even familiar Vietnamese drinks as a typical kind of tea in Central Vietnam, lotus tea, jasmine tea, Black Dragon tea and Trung Nguyen coffee are included in the menu. More sophisticatedly, bowls, plates, teapot enameled and decorated with different patterns are all from traditional ceramic villages of Vietnam.
What we tasted here had typical flavour which is not much different from what are served in the home country. The spring rolls filled with pork, vermicelli made of cassava, wood’s ears, and thin-top mushroom was crispy. Vietnamese crepe was attention-grabbing with fresh, snow-white bean sprouts which are more corpulent than those in Vietnam. I was much amazed at such giant bean sprouts available in many supermarkets in Japan. The markets also served basil, coriandrum sativum and lettuce; however, their flavours are not as tasty as those in Vietnam.
Our unforgettable dinner in Kyoto was added with hot lotus tea, making the evening in Kyoto less cold.
My Thai colleague praised “Vietnamese dishes are very appetizing”.
“Addicted” to Vietnamese dishes because of drinking much draught beer
The restaurant’s owner and chef is Masakatsu Koshida, a 47-year-old Japanese man who used to live in Vietnam for several years. Drinking draught beer in many places in Ho Chi Minh City made Koshida addicted to Vietnamese dishes and draught beer. He was determined to study cooking Vietnamese food to later own a Vietnamese food restaurant in his homeland. He was lucky to get insurance premium in Japan and decided to learn how to cook Vietnamese dishes.
At first, Koshida joined a class on cooking Vietnamese food for Japanese tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. However, the fee cost him much so he had to drop out the class. The sympathetic Vietnamese lecturer had offered him cheaper course at home. From that on, this Japan man bought ingredients every morning and took them to the lecturer’s house. He ate lunch with dishes he had made. Gradually, the more experience he got while making dishes, the better and more suitable ingredients and spices he could select. In free afternoon, he called at beer shops to find out more and learn cooking skills of chefs. Koshida said that every two years, he returned to Vietnam to buy ingredients and spices for the dishes, including a kind of sauce, shrimp paste, and of course fish sauce.
At that night, returning the hotel, I occasionally read a comment of a tourist on a tourism website that Huong Viet’s space and decoration in Kyoto reminded an old café in Hanoi. Some other tourists confirmed to return to the restaurant if they had another chance to visit Kyoto.
It is very encouraging to see that via cuisine, Vietnamese culture has been popularized in a place known as a tourists’ attraction like Kyoto.
Huong Viet Restaurant has opened for 15 years now, long enough to secure Vietnamese cuisine in Kyoto.
Vietnam‘s draught beer in Osaka
I also stopped over by chance in a Vietnamese restaurant with impressive name-Draught Beer, which is near Umeda Station in Osaka city. It was a pity that we had dinner already, so we just contemplated and took photograph from the outside. Though lying in a small alley near Umeda Station, this restaurant attracted a lot of dinner guests. Typically decorated, this “Draught Beer” restaurant is really a Vietnamese corner in Osaka.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, some Japanese advised me to drop in some Vietnamese restaurants there to eye-witness long queues of guests in front of the restaurants. I doubted until I asked a Japanese youth at Aoyama Itchome Station about AsiaCenter Restaurant in Tokyo. The girl said that she loved Vietnamese food, especially Pho and steamed rolled rice pancake when she knew I am a Vietnamese.
On the visit to Japan, I knew that Vietnamese cuisine is as favourite and popular as Japanese food in Vietnam.
By Mai Nguyen Translated by Mai Huong
Đăng ký: VietNam News