Fresh seafood restaurants abound in Hue. Our ever-dependable tour guide brought us to this wonderful spot, Quán Hải Sản Tuấn Phúc, away from the tourist trail.
It was a 20-minutes’ drive from our hotel in downtown Hue, and lie on the head of the derelict, broken Nguyễn Văn Tuyết Bridge, which ran parallel to the new Cầu Thuận An Bridge, seen in the background here.
The broken bridge was a local landmark of sorts, and very useful when looking for this restaurant.
The family-run restaurant opens from 7am - not an issue for them, I guess, since their residence was attached to the restaurant itself. The seafood were kept alive and fresh in the waters, with minimal dependence on refrigeration.
The prices for its seafood offerings were displayed at the dining area. None of us read Vietnamese and we pretty much depended on our tour guide to place the orders for us.
The open-kitchen looked more like a home kitchen than a restaurant one, which surprised us.
The food was really good - really fresh seafood given the minimal treatment:
Steamed crabs - these were local, top-of-the-line roe crabs (cua trứng) which retailed at VND600,000 (US$26) per kg, very meaty and rich with roe. The lump crabmeat was very sweet.
Clams in lemongrass-tamarind broth - very light flavours, again the attention was on the very fresh ingredients.
Steamed garoupa - the Vietnamese do not remove the fish entrails before steaming. The fish roe and liver were edible, but we found the entrails a bit too rubbery. The fish was live a few minutes ago, and had the sweetest flesh when lightly steamed.
The nước chấm dipping sauce was absolutely amazing, and went with the fish marvellously. They brewed their own fish sauce (nước mắm) which one of my friends bought two bottles to bring back to Singapore.
Spicy baby eels - I’m not too keen on this dish, as the baby eels had bones which were supposed to be soft enough to eat. But the baby eels weren’t exactly the tiny ones like those we get in Spanish restaurants - a bit too firm to the bite for me. But my friends really enjoyed it, and we polished off the entire serving.
Boiled squid - straight-off boiled and served with freshly-cut cucumbers, banana blossom and coriander leaves, and good nước chấm.
Fish porridge - the last dish was a simple rice porridge cooked in good fish stock. It was absolutely delicious, and was actually my favourite dish for the evening.
Overall, a good seafood dinner - and a totally different experience for us from Singapore who are used to chili crabs, black pepper crabs and other strongly-flavoured seafood dishes. The Vietnamese treat their fresh seafood with restraint and great delicacy - a very different culinary culture from ours. The total bill was about VND3 million or US$128. There were 6 of us, so it worked out to around US$21 per head.
Quán Hải Sản Tuấn Phúc
80 Nguyễn Văn Tuyết, Thị trấn Thuận An
Huyện Phú Vang, Thừa Thiên Huế
Tel: +84 234 3866 149
Opening hours: 7am to 10pm