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Vietnam town in Beihai city

By Pauline D. Loh ( Shanghai Star ) Updated: 2014-11-02 10:55:26
Vietnam town in Beihai city

SUPPER BITES: A bowl of baby crab rice noodles is a meal by itself while barbecued oysters, prawn fritters and bouncy squid balls satisfy the craving for snacking. [Photo by Pauline D. Loh/Shanghai Star]

 

Pato Li disappears from our table, and re-appears with a take-away box of steaming rice rolls.

"The best rice rolls is from a stall down the road," he says. We find out later that it was about a 10-minute walk away, but we enjoyed the savory rolls and thanked Pato for his diligence.

Freshly milled rice batter is poured over a piece of muslin laid over a steamer tray. The vendor then places a savory filling of salty vegetables and dried shrimps on one edge.

He deftly rolls the cooked rice sheet into a roll, roughly cuts and serves it.

Oysters arrived next. These are ordered from another stall, and came steaming hot to our table, simply plated on a metal tray.

They are still bubbling on the half shell, and their coating of cooked garlic was sending out irresistible aromas. At first bite, we fall in love.

The secret is in the garlic. Apart from its strong anti-bacterial properties, garlic also kills any "fishiness" from the oysters, and cooking the garlic beforehand removed the bite and added sweetness.

These are oysters freshly harvested from Beihai’s clean waters, and we are very happy to indulge.

We also had clams, large and sweet and almost nutty. They were stir-fried with spring onions and ginger, with lots of the local bird’s eye chili added. There were also batons of Guangxi’s famous pickled bamboo shoots, crunchy and slightly sour.

Other popular snacks on the street included prawn fritters spread out into Frisbee size, and large golf balls of minced squid that could have been bounced on the floor.

Guangxi is also famous for its sweet soups, and there are many stalls selling a mesmerizing variety when night falls on Qiaogang Zhen.

There were too many things we wanted to try, but I had only one stomach.

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