When I'm away from Vietnam for a while I tend to forget how truly brilliant Vietnamese street food is, and how such brilliance is often the result of an inspired combination of really very basic ingredients.
In this case: delicious bean curd fried to a crisp-skin state with the interior left soft and almost custard-y. A mound of fresh, crunchy perilla leaves. Bun (rice vermicelli) pressed into a cake. Fish sauce. Chilies. A kalamansi.
This we ate yesterday in Hanoi, dead tired and ravenously hungry after ten hours of travel. The afternoon air was moist and heavy; a steaming bowl of soupy noodles did not appeal. But this -- a spot of tasty and easily digestible protein, revivingly fragrant fresh herbs, light carbs and the spit, fire and salt of chilies and fish sauce -- did.
The perfect 3pm meal, with enough substance to carry us through to dinner without spoiling it. A cooked-but-cool combo perfectly suited to Hanoi's wilting summer heat. Perfectly convenient -- easily spotted from the street, eaten leisurely with a serenade of honking horns and sizzling oil.
Accompanied with a glass of iced tea.
Fried tofu with accompaniments. Seen all around town in the afternoon, this one eaten in the old quarter, Hanoi.