A Lazy Afternoon before Morning Glory
On day four of our visit to Hoi An, we had quite an Indulgent Day. Shopping, eating, pampering - you know, the usual. Naturally, after all this grand exertion, we found ourselves exhausted. And so we retreated to the inviting couches of the Yellow River Restaurant, where we whiled away the afternoon in a lingering, lazy fashion.
Contentedly we sipped our coffee as we read our novels. In Vietnam Ben was preferring his coffee hot, while I tended to favour mine over ice.
Hot or cold, it is hands down best when your coffee is served with separate coffee and sweet milk layers – all the better to mix yourself, my dear :) I do so love to play with my food.
We also engaged in some quality people watching. I love observing life from (not so) afar. All of a sudden, it appeared that we were being watched too! And with great interest, I might add. What a cutie.
As the clock ticked on we got a little peckish, and so we decided to share a mango shake. Our drink was very much like a lassi - super refreshing and took the edge off our hunger perfectly.
After more time reading in our comfy little cove, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We had a reservation at a fancy restaurant, you see, and dusty feet and a sweaty brow would not suffice. This was a little bit special, as usually we opted for street food as our dinner. However we had heard great things about Morning Glory (who also run a very popular cooking class), and so we decided to depart from our usual eating habits and brave the restaurant scene. Morning Glory, named after the delicious vegetable, is a beautifully laid-out restaurant, with comfortable, spacious tables complemented with soft, golden lighting (note, whilst this was incredibly pretty, it did not allow for very attractive photos).
The room felt relaxed but the vibe assured. The open kitchen in the centre of the main room gave us the welcomed opportunity to watch the famous Ms Vy or Ms Lu in action! The smell of fancified street food sizzling on the hot plate was an utter tease, enticing us to order more. What a sneaky and, as it would turn out, effective technique, for we complied with an eager order.
The menu is quite large, with so many beautifully composed dishes to tempt your taste-buds. The list of soups, grouped according to their long-believed health benefits, was a favourite section. After much serious discussion, we gave our order.
These cocktails were a little sweet for my liking, but very easy to drink. Luckily the alcohol content was minimal, otherwise I am sure there would have been even more ordering taking place at our humble table for two.
To start we ordered the chả giò (spring rolls), which had a cute name, along the lines of “3 friends”, referring to the three types of meat used to make this delicious treat. A delicate, crisp casing filled with succulent pork, prawns and...oh my, I have forgotten the Third Little Pig - three is a crowd, clearly, but not when it comes to taste. These really played to my preferences - strong flavours that all worked together beautifully. We were in heaven. I have stated previously that I am often disappointed with spring rolls in Australia, and this had also been to case in Vietnam…but not anymore. These little parcels were utterly divine.
White rose are pretty, delicate little dumplings filled with shrimp and are a local delicacy (along with Cao lầu). We found them similar to Cantonese dumplings, yet not quite as delicious. So after trying them a couple of times we didn’t bother with them again. If you are keen to try them, I am sure you would be in safe hands at Morning Glory. They also do shrimp paste on sugar cane, which is another popular local street food.
Back to our starters, we also tried the barbequed pork skewers with rice paper, green banana and fresh herbs. Interactive food is always fun – fill, roll and dip, it’s fabulous. We had tried this dish on our very first night from a street vendor, and fell in love with it. Hence we were very keen to try a restaurant version as a comparison. Honestly, I preferred the street version. If I can attempt to articulate why this was the case, I would say that the street version tasted less “done up”. There you go :) However Ben found them both equally good – and he’s right in that Morning Glory’s version was really very delicious.
Our last starter was the chicken rice, and it was so delicious. Simple, clean flavours – utterly scrumptious. The rice was al dente, the shredded chicken moist and the additional flavourings of herbs and spices friendly, not overwhelming or ostentatious. It was a happy dish.
When we both saw this next item on the menu, we instantly agreed we simply had to try it - prawns cooked in a coconut. Yes. And it. was. good. The prawns were fresh, plump and sweet – just the way I like them. The coconut flesh was soft enough to spoon out and eat alongside a mouthful of prawn or mushroom. It was delightful, so creative and well, fabulous.
After hearing that we simply must try the caramelised pork at Morning Glory, we gave it a go. It was beautifully tender and perfectly caramelised. The flavours were quite familiar to us, in that it was similar to Chinese dishes we have on occasion. And so on this night of enthusiastic ordering, we didn’t pay much attention to this dish (even though it as very yummy). So much to eat, such limited stomach space ;)
I was keen to try a soup, and so we chose a fish soup, which was supposed to help balance us internally...?? We were impressed, although I can't say if it really helped to balance things... A beautiful, full-bodied broth, similar to Tom Yum with the hot and sour to and fro. The fish was meaty and the vegetables crisp. We loved this soup - fresh ingredients and lovely strong flavours, all dancing beautifully together on the palate. One, two, three, one, two, three – it was a glorious, graceful yet spirited waltz in my mouth.
* On our last night in Hoi An we visited Morning Glory again, for a somewhat less indulgent meal. We tried the caramel fish in claypot (so yummy) and eggplant also cooked in a claypot – it was a claypot kind of night. We were very pleased again, but our choices on our first visit were better. Try the spring rolls, chicken rice and prawns in the coconut, in particular. And we never got around to trying the cinnamon beef, which sounds fabulous.
I really recommend this restaurant to those who are lucky enough to visit beautiful Hoi An. Comfortable surrounds, with top quality ingredients and spot on flavours. And all for very little cost, too - between 15-30,000 Dong for starters (0.75 cents to $1.50) and 30-120,000 Dong ($1.50 - $6.00) for mains...I know, right? Hey, this is Vietnam! And boy is it delicious.