We search for places to eat in Vietnam in the exact opposite way we do so back home.
It's essential, we've found, that the restaurant (or cart or street corner) look shitty and disgusting. Possibly like it will infect us. It's preferable if in place of napkins they give us square pieces of computer paper (which is completely useless but, ya know, the guide) and it's absolutely vital they have as little on the menu as possible. Bonus points if there isn't a menu at all, in which case we just signal we would like 2 portions and hope for the best.
Vietnam is perhaps the only place that guarantees food on the street far exceeds food served indoors. We run from restaurants offering western food and restaurants with real chairs. We're going to come back primal.
Only once has our guide alluded us. It was this morning. We approached a place that looked utterly disgusting, so we popped our heads in. We could see there were a few canary bird cages strewn about (?), some trash on the ground, a lot of unexplained water on the floor. We walked up the stairs to see it was connected to somebody's house and they were blasting Vietnamese music videos and we were delighted. Look, a giant bag of sprouts have been haphazardly thrown on the dining room table next to the laundry! I exclaimed. I'm not even sure it's clean laundry! The pho turned out to be watery and flavorless and disappointing for such a seemingly appalling establishment.
But that was just once.
I've had the best food of my life here, all of which has been eaten on tiny red stools (they seem to be getting smaller the farther north we go?) and short slanty tables. I'm learning there is more to Vietnamese food than pho, although my allegiances to my most favorite food ever remains intact, and that it's really difficult to get a regular cup of black coffee. Vietnamese coffee is strong, like it legit makes me feel cracked out, and they pour sugar in it and finish it off with a huge dollop of condensed milk. Sooo much condensed milk up in this club.
We're headed to Hoi An: get the stools ready, players!