The Perfume River (Sông Hương) meanders through the city of Huế, giving it an almost Parisian feel. It even has two natural islets rising from the middle of the river, akin to the Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité on the Seine River, although the Huế islets, Cồn Hến and Cồn Dã Viên, are not as built-up, and have a wild feel about them.
Naturally, we looked forward to the sunset river cruise arranged by our trusty tour guide - not so much for the food, as for the opportunity to see the sights from the waters for a change.
But, surprisingly, the food on-board turned out to be much better than we’d expected. The hors d’oeuvres closely resembled the elaborate presentation and careful plating by the Royal cuisine places we’d been to, and were pretty impressive.
The deep-fried spring rolls were called nem rán here in Huế (like Northerners/Hanoians do), over chả giò (which is more commonly used by Southerners/Saigonites). The phoenix carved out of carrots and pumpkin looked pretty elaborate.
I honestly didn’t know what to think of this presentation - my guess was that they wanted the carved fruit sculpture to represent one of those ancient pagodas which Huế is famous for, but it didn’t quite come out right.
Absolutely loved the traditional snacks here:
Bánh nậm - these were delicious: savoury rice flour pudding topped with minced pork and shrimp.
Bánh bột lọc - these were toothsome tapioca flour quenelles which had marinated shrimps embedded therein.
Bánh bèo - a Huế specialty: saucer-shaped rice cakes topped with minced shrimp/pork crackling and scallions. One of my fave food items here.
Bánh khoái - these were delicious as always. I had two of them, which were pretty tasty but overly greasy, and which absolutely filled me up for the rest of the evening.
The 5-Flavour Fish was a lightly steamed garoupa, dressed in fish sauce. It was very good.
Dessert was lotus seeds simmered in a light, sweetened broth.
We enjoyed the dinner cruise, and especially the food. The sights could do with some narration from the boat crew, but I suspect that language may be a barrier for them. Else, we’d have loved to have a running commentary about the various landmarks we were passing by.
HRS CRUISE- DU THUYỀN SÔNG HƯƠNG
Lê Duẩn, Phú Thuân, Thành phố Huế
Thừa Thiên Huế 49000, Vietnam
Tel: +84 96 609 80 00
Operating hours: 6.30am to 10pm