Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Vietnamese(?) shrimp

Tuesday evening, I got dinner at the Vietnamese resto in my new office building's basement. This time around, I ordered the spring rolls (no pics—sorry; ate 'em fast) and something called "cream shrimp," which turned out to be a texturally and aesthetically crazy dish, as you'll see in the following photos:

What you see above is a pile of shrimp wrapped in either super-thin pasta or super-thin shoestring potatoes, then deep-fried and tossed onto a pile before finally being sprinkled with canned berries in sugar syrup and drizzled with a balsamic reduction (the black syrup) that made me wonder just how Vietnamese this dish was. The cream—for this was "cream shrimp"—was put into a tiny cup off to the side of the chaotic mess. I guess the chef was going for a bird's-nest aesthetic. It worked, and it made the meal into an interesting puzzle as I tried to figure out how best to approach it.

I could tell that the pile of bird's-nest-fried shrimp wasn't entirely made of shrimp: no Korean restaurant is ever that generous with shrimp. As I guessed—and I was right—the center of the pile was composed of vegetables—baby greens of some kind or other, in this case. I started off by trying to minimize the chaos by eating my way around each shrimp's fried "beard," trimming the tangle down with my teeth, going along each shrimp's perimeter until I had a roughly shrimp-like shape in my chopsticks. Crunchy carbs flew everywhere as I nibbled. I then dipped the pared-down shrimp in the cream sauce, which was actually very light and tasty, and flavored with fresh mango.

Below, you see the moment when I confirmed my theory and unearthed the veggies:

The greens weren't tossed in any sort of sauce, which made them kind of boring, and which made me belatedly realize that I was probably supposed to drizzle the cream sauce all over both the shrimp and the greens. As I said, the meal was a puzzle that I had to figure out. I don't think I fully understood it until I was two-thirds of the way through it. All in all, I enjoyed the experience of eating this delightfully confusing dish, but the cost was fairly steep at W20,000. Can't wait to get back on my austerity program. The austerity has made me realize how casually I spend right and left, and even though I've considered myself fairly fiscally disciplined—which is why I've been able to chop my debt down to its current point—I now know I have a long way to go when it comes to thrift.

No comments: