Little individual firepits, plates of meat, and trays of veggies and rice
paper characterize these types of establishments. As well as my roommate
giving me a peace sign. Also normal.

All goat, all the time: gimmick or not? Let’s explore!

Last Friday I went out to eat with a number of people from Association Long (the not-for-profit that provides and manages the houses that we foreigners live in). Our landlords were there, as were several aussies, a number of French (as per usual, since our landlords both speak French fluently), my roommate, and myself. It was a great evening!

The place was traditionally low-cost – squat toilets, dodgy bathrooms, plastic chairs, crates of beer and all. I find these places charming, although definitely not in a “bring your parents!” kind of way. It was bustling and packed when we got there a little after eight, but we were the only people there by the time we left at 10:30pm.

This could be any one of dozens of establishments.
DO NOT leave your bags on the floor! Eeewwwwww.

And the goat… yes. The goat. All of it, from its presumably adorable little nose, to its flavorful hindquarters, made its way to our tables (I just realized we didn’t have any goat tongue. I don’t know if that’s a food, but I assume that they have tongues and that people eat them?). I always guessed that all of a goat would be fairly tough, but that was not the case. It was juicy and great!

In these types of establishments every three or four people get a little pot of fire – you’re own personal grill – and a plate of marinated meats, along with a tray full of fresh vegetables (this came with what was MAYBE Okra and Starfruit. NOT SURE. Both were good, whatever they were).

To eat the meats, we first grilled them and some veggies (after coating the veggies in the meat marinade on the plate). While they were grilling, we used the condensation on the outside of our beer mugs to moisten the rigid rice paper (which is initially half-opaque and has the stiffness of a piece of thin cardstock. This is the same thin rice paper found on spring rolls).

Once we finished cooking the marinated meats and veggies, we put them up in the now VERY pliable – think saran wrap-levels of sticky-ness – rice paper along with some of each of the veggies and basil, rolled them up, folded over the ends, and dipped them in the lemony/creamy sauce that came with our dinner. It was delicious!

Our group several bottles of testicle booze into the evening.

Over the course of the evening, we had:

Goat Flank
Tasted like: gyro meat.
Consistency of: gyro meat, but less fatty.
Looked like: a slice of gyro meat (… is gyro meat made of goat?) It retained its cut shape like a cut block of dense tofu… or like a slice of gyro meat.

Goat Breast
Tasted like: Juicy, mine were usually burned (I kept burning them, boo, serves me right for not paying attention to the fire).
Consistency of: chicken breast. Because it is also a boob, like chicken breast.
Looked like: chicken breast, both before and after grilling. I actually was convinced that’s what it was before they let me know it was “goat teat” (their words).

Fermented Goat Testicle Liquor
Tasted like: sweet, fruity coffee liquor.
Consistency of: vodka. It wasn’t too strong, but it had a very particular taste. People say it’s an aphrodisiac, like chocolate-covered strawberries or clams… ha. People are weird.
Looked like: fig juice (if that’s a thing).

Goat Brains
Tasted like: protein-y cheesecake, but not sweet
Consistency of: greek yogurt, slightly (ummfff) chunky. I feel more sure-footed already.
Looked like: a tiny bowl of undiluted condensed cream of mushroom soup. I successfully ate a bite with chopsticks.

Goat Hot Pot:
Tasted like: Soup. We had noodles that looked like bird’s nests and ones that looked like soba noodles. There was basil and tripe and bean sprouts. It was great and goat-y. It also had lotus in it, which I did not like at all. Even though the lotus was cooked, it had the texture of uncooked potatoes. Gross.
Consistency of: Soup, noodles, intestines, veggies.
Looked like: I was trying to hide the crazy with basil and rice noodles, I’ll be honest. The broth was dark brown and a little salty. After the delicious noodles were gone, I was done – no more broth for this fella.

Tiger beer:
It comes in a crate of 24 bottles and they pop all the tops off at once. It’s a fun way to drink with a group! I wish I could have more beer these days, but I can only have a couple a week because of The Gout. Damn you, The Gout! Funcrusher!

Sidenote: I never knew I could enjoy watered-down beer before I came here, but it’s so much preferable to hot beer that you eventually just give in, especially when you’re sitting in a room filled with tiny fires and smoke. It has the added benefit of hydrating you while you dehydrate yourself with alcohol, I guess! The same thing applies to coffee – although with coffee it’s so INCREDIBLY thick and dark that diluting it with ice actually makes it just taste like regular coffee.

The evening was a total success, plus, I got a new English Business client right before I walked in! I didn’t not like anything that came with our meal, except the lotus (DID NOT LIKE), and even kind of appreciated the goat brains (I feel more stubborn already… as if that’s possible)!

It was a great experience and the conversation was wonderful. I met some new friends and got to know a new part of Saigon. Win-Win.

Until the next food adventure!

*Adventure Time! Come on, grab your friends! Let’s go to very distant lands! Wait, I’m sorry, you’re not watching Adventure Time? Sigh.