10 2017 Jul
SaigonTagged food, nhau, seafood, street food, vietnamese

One thing you need to do in Vietnam is to đi nhậu, or ‘go drinking’ in its basic translation. However, it’s more than that. It’s the act of getting together with friends and celebrating their company for hours on end. Beer and food is always involved along with the loud banter and occasional singing. Sure, it may sound familiar, like your izakaya or tapas or even happy hour for some of you. But no, this tradition, or even obligation I dare say, is usually done street side on those small uncomfortable red chairs and flimsy tables that one of your friends will hold still for the night. And of course, it would be worth it when the place is bringing out plate after delicious plate of ốc, or for those who haven’t guessed it, snails. This was the case at Quán Ốc A Sồi.

Surprisingly, this amazing place isn’t located on Đường Vĩnh Khánh, where shops of this type seem to congregate (see the post about oysters prepared 24 different ways). No, this place is located in District 3 and has three storefronts all monopolizing one section of Nguyễn Thượng Hiền street. Even more impressive was the setup, solid chairs and tables with all your necessary utensils and condiments. Right on!

We happen to come here right before the rush and found a table right at the entrance. Full view of the scooters, cars, and people traveling through the street. We even observed the bicycle acupuncturist who rode by calling out his presence to those living above the shops. Neat. If I had an allergic reaction I know who to call for to help stop any inflammation so I could continue eating. That’s how it works right? Anyways, we ordered almost every type of mollusk on the menu. I was in nhậu heaven, especially with the bottles of ice cold beers at hand.

So the thing with drinking beer and eating snails (and other seafoods) is that you go at a slow pace. You’re not scarfing down snails and leaving in 15 minutes. You’re carefully prying open, twisting out morsels of goodness, and tasting the various sauces, all while enjoying a cold brew. And these places carry a variety of these sea delicacies along with several ways of preparing them. You’ll be wondering if you should circle back to that one you loved or continue on trying out new dishes. Preferably you’d do the latter, but if you have a big enough group, you’ll be ordering your favorites all night. For tonight though, we were only a party of two.

Service was almost family like. Our server helped us order, made sure the drinks kept coming, and even helped us open the cockles. That was a godsend since I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. Glad our waiter showed me before I took a hammer to it. Well, even after dinner he helped our Uber driver find the correct street to pick us up. Now that’s friendliness you don’t encounter too often. After a tasty meal, this was icing on the cake.

I’ll be back with reinforcements next time I’m in town.

Quán Ốc A Sồi

237 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền
Phường 4, Quận 3
Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Verdict: If you want a less crowded area without sacrificing good seafood, this is your place.

Ốc Len

These snails are cooked in a sweet coconut broth and tastes wonderful. That is, after you figure out how to get to the snail that's twirled up inside. Basically, you have to suck to get them out. Don't worry, no one's gonna judge you and that sound you're making because everyone else is doing the same. This dish is a common order and after having it here, you'll know why.

68,000 VND

Ox Impressions: 

Sò Huyết

It may look like a clam, but this was more in the cockle family. This was the one that was so difficult to open. If you get it, have your server show you how it's done. It's not a clam, so closed doesn't mean it's not cooked. This was cooked, and oh boy, was it so good, especially with that fried garlic. I'd describe it as almost like praline garlic. It's soft and malleable and tastes savory sweet. So good!

60,000 VND

Ox Impressions: 

The Cockle

After you get one open, you'd be surprised on how much was hiding in there.

Ốc Móng Tay

The direct translation of this is "snail fingers," named after their shape. On the Western front, we know this as razor clams and these here are prepared in hot oil. The heat level on here was a solid spicy. However, that sorta overpowered the dish making it feel like the clams were there for only the texture.

75,000 VND

Ox Impressions: 

Sò Mai

This was a type of oyster prepared by stir frying the meat with green onions and oil. As you can imagine, it's on the heavier side yet, you still get the tastes and texture of the oyster. Pretty good.

40,000 VND each

Ox Impressions: 

Sò Dương

What we have here on the right side of the dish are oysters prepared similar to the ones we had above. Though less heavy on the mixture. Not sure why they are listed differently, but they did taste the same. This may have been a mix up, but we were okay having it again.

40,000 VND each

Ox Impressions: 

Ốc Tỏi

Now this... this bad boy was one large snail. It was prepared in garlic and chili. As far as heat level, it's between mild and medium. But the meat. Oh man, that was a lot of snail. And man, it was divine. Try parts of it in the different sauces and you'll be in heaven.

60,000 VND each

Ox Impressions: 

Rau Muống Xào Tỏi

Gotta keep things balanced so throw in your favorite vegetable dish like morning glory. Here's it's stir fried with garlic, salt, and pepper. Simple, but good.

48,000 VND

Ox Impressions: 

The OxPosted July 10, 2017 By the hungry ox

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