The Day I Got
By A BBQ Buffet
Part Three of my Adventures in Vietnam
So we’ve already established that I like BBQ. Really, really like BBQ. And if you’ve been following my articles you’ll also know that a few months ago I went to Vietnam and that while I was there I got scared off the traditional Vietnamese BBQ food and learned some life lessons. Well, I have one more confession to make… I also got completely and hopelessly conned by a BBQ buffet. I wanted so much for it to be true…
I’ve spent two years living in South Korea and I found Vietnam to be really familiar. In fact everything felt so familiar that I found it really difficult to get my head around the money: when I lived in Korea you could divide the price by 1000 and that was the price in Australian dollars. For example, if something cost 10,000 won, that was $10 Australian. So on the first night when I went to buy a bottle of Gatorade and a toothbrush and had to pay 100,000 dong I freaked out. It wasn’t until I got back to the hotel and looked up exchange rates on my computer that I realised that 100,000 dong is about $6 AUD… I even found myself craving Korean food. Fortunately there were a whole bunch of Korean restaurants right near my hotel.
I found a fantastic place at the top of a building on the major roundabout in the Old Quarter and got a table out on the balcony so I could watch as the city switched from day to night. I was pretty convinced that this was the roundabout that Hamish and Andy had their mini-bike race on. A week later I looked it up online and found out that their race was actually in Ho Chi Minh, not Hanoi… I really was in fine form…
As I was siting there at my table, drinking my icy cold beer and eating my fantastic Kim-bab and Dok Bokki I noticed a particular sign on the building across the street.
I spotted a sign that got me unreasonably excited. An all you can eat BBQ buffet? More than 80 varieties of brisket, ribs, steaks, sausage, pulled pork, chops, shanks, hamburger and seafood? For $18? It was too good to be true. I was already more than half way through my Korean food, otherwise I would have had to leave and go there right away. Plus, I needed time to watch the traffic and plan my route over there: contrary to Australian cities, the streets actually seemed to get busier at night time in Hanoi.
I went there the very next night. I took the elevator to the eighth floor and was overwhelmed with the amazing aromas that met me as I stepped into the room. I could smell so many different things cooking that a tingle started in my toes, rose through my belly, up to the hairs on the top of my head and then settled back down in my belly.
I started to get suspicious when I sat down at a table and recognised it as a traditional Korean kalbi table. And then I got the menu. It turned out that there were only 12 types of BBQ on the menu. When I asked about the other 68 types of BBQ the waitress pointed to the salad bar and simply said ‘BBQ here’.
Now don’t get me wrong, all you can eat Korean BBQ and a massive salad bar is awesome, but it is most definitely NOT 80 types of ‘BBQ’ – it’s ONE type of BBQ! Where was my brisket, my pulled pork, my chicken lollipops? It was truly, staggeringly heartbreaking.
I did enjoy the $4 Mojitos though. And then… something something… I woke up back in my hotel…
So, have you ever been outsmarted by a street sign? Let me know when you’ve been conned: it would make me feel better!