However, you can easily find the presence of many popular Vietnamese dishes favoured by local residents.
Due to its diversified population, Auckland is a multicultural city.
Consequently, it is where many food centers have gathered over the years.
It is considered “the house of Asian cuisine” in New Zealand, with food stands and restaurants serving a variety of dishes from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Though surrounded by the “giants” of the culinary world, Vietnamese dishes have many specific characteristics that has helped them become favourites of numerous local residents.
“Phở” (noodle soup) is favoured by the Europeans, while the Asians like to enjoy “hủ tiếu hải sản” (seafood noodle) and “cơm tấm sườn” (cooked rice from fractured rice grains, usually served with either grilled pork ribs or shredded meat).
The Vietnamese expatriates who are in the food and drink business in Auckland choose to offer their customers menus containing typical dishes of Vietnamese cuisine like : “phở”, “cơm tấm sườn”, “bún bò Huế” (Hue style beef noodle), “bún chả giò” (rice noodles served with minced pork rolls), and “bánh mì bò kho” (bread served with Vietnamese beef stew).
Some food stands also offer other popular Vietnamese dishes like : “bánh giò” (steamed rice cake), “gỏi cuốn” (spring rolls), and “miến gà” (crystal noodles with chicken).
The Vietnamese food stands and restaurants also bring in new dishes from time to time.
Recently, “bánh cuốn” (rolled cake) and “bánh mì thịt nướng” (baguette with grilled meat) were the two newest dishes which to appear on their menus.
Especially notable is a Vietnamese restaurant in the eastern part of the city that offers a special dish : balut hot pot (hot pot served with fertilized duck embryo, boiled and eaten in the shell).
When the owners were asked how they get the baluts, they just smiled and said : “it’s a secret”.
There is also variety of Vietnamese-style desserts that can be found on the menu of nearly every Vietnamese restaurant and food stand : “chè ba màu” (three colour sweet soup), “chè sen” (lotus sweet soup), “sữa đậu nành” (soy milk), “sâm bổ lượng” (a kind of sweet soup originated from China) and others.
In Auckland, Vietnamese expatriates usually like to dine at the food stand of Ms Lien, who has been living here for the last 10 years.
She owns a Vietnamese “phở” stand in the food center situated right next to the Auckland TV Tower.
Vietnamese customers who dine at her food stand make up a significant percentage of her patrons, about 80%.
Most of the native northern Vietnameses like her “phở”, because it is cooked in the northern style.
Many owners of Vietnamese restaurants and food stands in Aucklandface the same serious difficulty when they make their dishes : vegetables.
In winter, the vegetables are very expensive and scarce.
The lack of vegetables leads to a reduction in the popularity of Vietnamese dishes.
Therefore, they usually add “giá” (bean sprouts) and “rau ngò mùi” (coriander) into the dishes, because these kinds of vegetables can be grown at any time.
They also plant “rau răm” (Vietnamese mint) and “húng lủi” (basil), because these kinds of vegetables are not sold here in Auckland.
There is no Vietnamese supermarket in Auckland, so shop owners buy other ingredients from Chinese supermarkets.
The Vietnamese food stands may be found encircled by countless Asian food stands, but they still stand out and draw the attention of many customers.
May these Vietnamese food stands continue to both console the nostalgic Vietnamese expatriate, and introduce Vietnamese cuisine to international friends.
It is estimated that there are about 2,000 Vietnamese living, working and studying in Auckland.
HUYNH THU DUNG
Source: Tuoi Tre News