The Vietnamese calendar, like the Hebrew calendar, is lunar; and like the Jewish calendar, which celebrates spring with the holiday of Passover, the Vietnamese calendar marks the beginning of spring with the holiday of Tet. And just as the Hebrew month of Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year, Tet represents the Vietnamese New Year (Jews celebrate their actual new year in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar).
To celebrate Tet this year, the Year of the Dog, Vong -- one of Israel’s leading Vietnamese restaurants -- offered diners a special nine-course Vietnamese New Year’s banquet on Sunday, 18.2. The banquet, designed as a sharing menu for two people, comprised four starters, four main courses, one dessert, and a bottle of sparkling sake to top off the special occasion.
The special meal was conceived and executed by Van, Vong’s native Vietnamese culinary consultant, and featured traditional dishes that not only are not on the restaurant’s regular menu, but also were not modified to conform to Western/Israeli adaptations of Southeast Asian cuisine. As such, it was a unique gastronomic experience, of the kind that Vong sponsors on select occasions.
The feast commenced with four starter courses served to the center of the table on a large tray decorated with a banana leaf:
Bun Thit Ga Nuong. Chicken skewers marinated in fish sauce and lemongrass, served on a bed of thin rice noodles with cucumber sprouts and leafy green herbs.
Cha Ca Thi La. White fish fritters in tamarind sauce with shallots, dill, garlic and chili.
Cha Lua. Steamed sausage, served with assorted pickled vegetables.
Thit Bam. Zucchini stuffed with chicken, mushrooms, and glass noodles, in a rich chicken broth.
A bottle of refreshing sparkling sake accompanied these dishes and the four more that followed:
Va Ga Xao. Seared chicken in fish and oyster sauce, with crunchy bean noodles.
Tom Rim Thit Trung. A shrimp and chicken stew with quails’ eggs.
Banh Tet. Sticky rice, mash beans, cashew nut and coconut cream steamed in banana leaf.
Ca Com. Fried fresh anchovy coated in chili caramel.
The dinner concluded with a choice of three desserts taken from Vong’s daily menu: mango mousse, tapioca with fruit and peanuts, and caramelized bananas.
Website: http://www.vong.co.il/Photos Silvia Golan