Jan 8, 2007
After some incredible restaurant experiences before arriving in Hue, it turns out Hue was a bit dissapointing. We had to search long and hard to find some reasonably good restaurants. One day, while on the search for all-things-street-foodish and not really coming up with much, Evan and I happily bumped into a Pho 24. I say happily because the bowl here is predictably good, and the ice cream as you can see is very good. Not too far from Pho 24 I found a grotty little hole in the wall recommended to me by one of the hotel staff; here's a photo of their claypot fish in ginger, a plate of rice and a beer I ordered while wandering around by myself. Mega-ginger and hugely tasty, a total bargoooon at approx $3Cdn.
A typical "Tourist Restaurant" in Hue can be defined by the "Tropical Gardens Restaurant". Prices were far too high for the portions size, the food was uninspired and quite greasy and bland. Fortunately the table company was charming, beautiful and more easily pleased than I. Check out this noodle dish, I think they might even have been instant noodles, it was terrible. It's shameful that guidebooks like the "Lonely Planet - Vietnam" continue to promote substandard restaurants like this one. Another terrible recommendation by the Lonely Planet - Vietnam was a cafe not too far from Tropical Gardens called "Stop and Go Cafe" it really should be renamed "Stop, Don't Go to this Cafe". This is a trend in our 2006 version guidebook, I now read their places to go to recommendations carefully as they can correct or very incorrect. The Lonely Planet series of 10 years ago used to be so good, this version we are travelling has been wrong far more times than it has been right. I don't think I will travel with them again.
So, back to Tropical Gardens Restaurant... this Banh Cuon was for sure the worst we ate while in Hue, sooooo greasy. And honestly, for the price they charged, make an attempt at the presentation. This blob of gluey noodles didn't get finished. Uugh.
In my opinion this egglant dish was the best of the Tropical Gardens bunch and it got slapped down looking like jailhouse food. Speaking of service, it might have been the worst we've seen so far with dishes coming out in random order, big gaps between dishes, confusion over which dishes went to which tables in our general area and food that obviously required rice being dropped off and the rice showing up much later than the intial dish. I should have sent the restaurant bill to the Lonely Planet guidebook management. This other photo is from another restaurant we found, not in any guidebook and who's name I won't publish in fear of Lonely Planet cursing it by putting it in their next guidebook.
Lonely Planet, you are in the doghouse.