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Pleiku: Dinner at BBQ Vien Dong – The night my dad ate a jellyfish

by Sanne
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BBQ Vien Dong, Pleiku restaurant

In Pleiku we ate at this cozy rooftop restaurant called BBQ Vien Dong. It was Valentine’s Day, so the restaurant was really busy, and from our seats upstairs, we had front row views of all the action and drama that is also an inevitable part of this special day. I still feel sorry for the young guy, who, after waiting for more than an hour, realized that he had been stood up. He screamed out his frustration before running out on the street to send a large bouquet of flowers with a taxi to an unknown place.

The pretty girls in the restaurants were wearing Chanel. They were in the company of young men, who didn’t seem comfortable in their suits, but who looked very happy to have a date for the night. The ones without a date had gathered around a table in the corner, drinking Bia Saigon instead.

The menu was only in Vietnamese, so we just picked a couple of random dishes and hoped for the best. Turned out we had ordered a hot pot with mixed seafood, a serving of barbecued beef, a dish with rice and vegetables and a spicy salad with some kind of raw topping, which none of us could identify. I asked one of the waiters, what it was, but he only spoke very little English. “Is it fish?” I gestured, arms moving like fins, and he nodded.

My dad loves fish, so he filled his mouth with what we now believed was some kind of whitefish sashimi. “It’s a bit chewy,” he noted, and I took a closer look at the glistening raw slices. It had small brown dots, which didn’t really fit into our whitefish thesis.

“Hmm” I said.

“Maybe it’s squid?” my dad said in a hopeful voice.

“Hmm..” I said again  “most definitely squid..”

We then started eating the hot pot, which was so spicy that we forgot about our unidentified, spotted, could-be-squid for a while, but later on, I got the idea to use Google Translate to help us decode the menu and you know what? The squid wasn’t squid but jellyfish. Goi Sua is jellyfish salad in Vietnamese.