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Sunday, August 9, 2015

15 CRAIGSIDE GOES TO BAC NAM

Bac Nam is an eleven year old Vietnamese restaurant in Honolulu.  Bac means north and nam is south, so the cuisine represents the whole country.  The north serves pure food, while the south portions are larger with a variety of add on ingredients.  Viet Nam (don't use Vietnam) in Vietnamese is Viet people living in the south.  While there are 54 ethnic groups, 86% characterize themselves as Kinh.

While I'm in this educational mode, let me say that I've recently traveled twice through the country, and the following are my memories:
  • In Hanoi, stay at the Sofitel Metropole.
  • In Ho Chi Minh City, which everyone still calls Saigon, my favorite is the tower section of the Sheraton.
  • In both cities, you can't really feel safe crossing the street because there are so many motorbikes.  For example, the traffic death rate of Vietnam is more than double that of the U.S.  But people hardly know that Thailand's is worse (1.5 times) than Vietnam.
  • How secure is tourism in Hawaii?  From the trip I took five years ago:
China Beach (picture 100 yards of beach extending for 19 miles, a distance from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor and back to Waikiki) alone has a five-star mega resort, with five more being built, including a J.W. Marriott and a Hyatt, plus a casino and two golf courses.  Some remember this beach as Danang.


Well, enough of that.  I asked the waitress what was the name of the owner, and she paused for a while because she only called him Dad.  Bac Nam's founder, chef, waiter and Mr. Everything is Tam Huynh (he has been in Honolulu for 33 years), and this is a family operation.  Here, father and daughter serving our group from 15 Craigside:


Our Dining Out Committee selected Bac Nam on the advice of Judy and Don Asman, who live at 15 Craigside.  Coincidentally, Judy also was having lunch here with her grandkids:


Cookie to the right is our chaperone.  Shrimp was popular.  Here, Mabel's two dishes:


Henry's shrimps:


There was a lot of sharing of appetizers and entres.  I ordered ribs and a rare beef Pho (pronounced FUH, not FO):


To continue my tutorial, pho is a rather new soup in Vietnam, in that it doesn't go back to prehistoric times, and is normally served mostly for breakfast.  No one knows what the term means, but probably came from pot-au-feu, a beef and vegetable stew from France (which occupied the country from 1883 to 1954).  So how this came to be is that the French colonialists ate mostly the beefsteak, so the resourceful Vietnamese cooks used the scraps and bones to create pho.  The south was more bountiful, so sprouts, herbs and sauces were added.  The fall of Saigon in 1975 sent a wave of South Vietnamese to the U.S., where pho became known.  Thus, almost all Americans are only aware of the southern version.

This is a BYOB establishment, surprising us, so I volunteered to trudge to the closest liquor store, where I brought back with me a Pink Champagne, Chardonnay and beer.

The food was excellent.  A couple of people stated that there was too much sauce, but the taste was authentic, service outstanding and general ambience good enough for a plain-looking place.   It was packed for a Saturday lunch.

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Hilda is now a Category 2 hurricane at 115 MPH, but should be weakening over the next few days.


The most likely track has her as a still dangerous tropical storm and sneaking between the Big Island and Maui, But here are the computer models:


How comfortable are you about where Hurricane Hilda is headed?  For the record, another storm has popped up behind her:


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