Ha Tien Town in Kien Giang Province, known for its beautiful beaches, boasts some unique delicacies.
Tom tit, or mantis shrimp, is a dish that seafood lovers do not want to miss out on when visiting Ha Tien. Since this creature usually breeds around the third and fourth lunar months, the best time to try this food is six months before that when it carries a lot of ripe roe. These eggs are considered a delicacy. Besides, tom tit caught during this season will have more fat and meat.
Mantis shrimp can be found in restaurants across Ha Tien cooked in various ways such as steamed with lemongrass, roasted with garlic and cooked in a hot pot. A portion costs VND100,000-150,000 ($4.3-6.5).
Tongue shell (lamp shell)
Ca xiu, commonly known as tongue shell or lamp shell, lives in the muddy part of rivers, estuaries and brackish water with a long pedicle attached to the ground, making it easier to find food. It might have a strange appearance but is considered a delicacy in Ha Tien.
The dish has seasonal prices with the best time being June and August when locals eat them fresh. They also fry them with garlic and eat with rice or ferment them to eat all year round.
Snakehead fish noodle soup
Bun ken, or snakehead fish noodle soup, involves a sophisticated cooking process. After the fish is cooked in boiling water, the chef will fillet it and turn it into mam ruoc through fermentation. Some of the meat is stir-fried with onion, garlic, curry powder, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and fish meal. Then the chef puts this mixture into a pot of fish broth, adds seasoning and coconut milk and boils on a fire. The broth has a sweetish taste from the coconut milk.
It is served with dried shrimp, fish paste, bean sprouts and cucumber on top. Foodies can also add lemon, chili and fish sauce to fit their taste. A bowl costs VND20,000 ($0.86).
Grilled ca do, or redtail fusilier, with pickled papaya is a popular afternoon snack in Ha Tien. This dish is commonly sold in the downtown area, but the best place to try it is at a no-name street stall near Tran Hau and Phuong Thanh streets.
The fish is coated with spices and grilled on charcoal until it gives off a nice smell. Eating the fish with pickled papaya and chili will stimulate your taste buds even more. A portion costs VND25,000 ($1.08).
Vietnamese baguette and cow offal
Banh mi pha lau, or baguette filled with cow offal, is an exotic street food thanks to the unique filling. What make this dish unique are the chewy pieces that are yet soft enough to melt in your mouth.
Each vendor has a unique way of cooking the innards. But chefs in Ha Tien cook them with coconut milk to give the dish a sweetish taste. A portion costs VND15,000 ($0.65).