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Snails prove a delightful hit from Hà Nội’s Bỗng restaurant



SUBLIME SETTING: Brand new restaurant serving Hà Nội’s delicacy in a villa full of green shade for freshness. Photo courtesy of Bỗng

 by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

Despite the numerous sidewalk stalls that serve delicious snail noodle soups, whenever a new restaurant adds this dish, people rush to try, comment and give them a whirl, particularly in the capital city.

Though the escargots are good and rich in protein, the dishes are not always varied enough for some. Snail purveyors usually run a restaurant that specialises in only this one main ingredient. It’s often snails or nothing, which might not work for a large group.

SNAIL SOUP: Sour hot vermicelli with golden escargots with drops of spicy sauteed chilli. VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

For Bún ốc (vermicelli with escargotsfans like us, every time a new stall or a restaurant has it on the menu, it’s a special day to call up our foodie band and get going to check it out as soon as humanly possible.

“Bỗng”, the restaurant’s name, makes our palate ache as it means fermented whole sticky rice liquid used to cook fish. The broth gives the dishes a soft sour flavour that can’t be replaced with other sour ingredients like vinegar, an essential component to go with the main food, without which such a dish can never be made.

At Bỗng, a new snail-only restaurant opened in July, and the impression is that it’s been in the two-storey villa on Nguyễn Du for a long time.

The decor gives a vintage feeling, with a few details recalling the melancholic past of a less-developed, less-populated smaller and more tranquil city.

GOURMET GASTROPODS: Mastering one dish from escargot can make a name for a cook. Here at Bỗng, you can taste the notoriously difficult dish of steamed stuffed escargots with ginger leaves. VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

The escargot hot noodle soup here comes in the style of Khương Thượng Village in Hà Nội, now a ward in Đống Đa District, where ponds and marshland used to provide ample source of aquatic products. 

The hot soups, or Bún ốc nóng (VNĐ60,000 or 80,000), can be an easy-ish start for a novice who wants to try a snail dish and is not quite sure where to begin. The overall flavour is sour and spicy, with lots of crispy chunks of snails.

Extra escargot comes in at VNĐ50,000. But the true essence of this dish is the cooled soup. It’s hard to beat fresh rice vermicelli dipped into room temperature soup, flavoured with a pinch of sauteed dried chilli.

In every stall, hot soup brings more customers, but the quality of the cooled soup keeps the faithful returning.

I tried all the other dishes on the menu and only a handful of delicacies, saving the cooled soup for another time.

The escargot spring rolls (Nem ốc) and escargot patties (Chả ốc) are both VNĐ180,000. The dishes were created in the late 1990s and early 2000s by a small shop owner but were later picked up by many restaurateurs nationwide.

Other choices include stuffed escargots (VNĐ180,000) or a hotpot of escargot and green banana and tofu on charcoal that comes in three possible sizes at VNĐ160,000, VNĐ280,000 and VNĐ480,000.

A trip to Bỗng can be emotionally charged, such is the gorgeous setting. We got the beautiful seating on the second-floor terrace, under the shade of a neighbouring tree, where you can see squirrels running up and down.

Next, we had steamed escargots with ginger leaves, a tradition any Hanoian food lover would be proud of. And they tasted delicious, as we had hoped.

Drinks and desserts here also pick up the traditional menu, including assorted herbal tea, fermented rice (VNĐ35,000), and green rice pudding (VNĐ85,000). 

The menu lists only a handful of items, but the venue certainly calls for returning again and again with friends and family. VNS

Bỗng, Ôc ngon Hà Nội

50 Nguyễn Du Street, Hoàn Kiếm District

Tel: 091 5553868

Comment: Great dishes made from rice-paddy snails cooked with fermented rice vinegar



Chăm dance at Ponagar Temple towers lures visitors



The culture and sports sector in the south-central coastal province of Khanh Hoa has hosted Cham dances at the relic complex of Ponagar temple towers in Nha Trang in recent years, to attract more visitors to the beach city.

The troupe of artists who perform Cham dances are from the Cham ethnic minority group in Mỹ Nghiệp craft village in Phước Dân town, Ninh Phước district, Ninh Thuan province, which borders Khanh Hoa to the south.

Ponagar temple towers were built following the unique architecture of the Cham ethnic minority people and have existed for more than 1,200 years.

The relic site attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Through the dances, visitors can understand part of the unique culture of the Cham ethnic minority people. 

Ponagar is currently the only place in Khanh Hoa province to host Cham dances every day. The activity is among attractions for tourists. 

According to the relic sites preservation centre, after COVID-19, Ponagar has drawn 1,500-2,000 visitors each day./.


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Exploring two national treasures at Hung Yen Pagoda



The Red River Delta province of Hung Yen is currently home to five national treasures, two of which are kept at Huong Lang Pagoda – an ancient Buddhist temple in Minh Hai commune, Van Lam district.

Exploring two national treasures at Hung Yen Pagoda hinh anh 1Stone lion statue (Photo: baohungyen)

Hung Yen – The Red River Delta province of Hung Yen
is currently home to five national treasures, two of which are kept at Huong
Lang Pagoda – an ancient Buddhist temple in Minh Hai commune, Van Lam district.

Huong Lang
Pagoda, also called Lang Pagoda, is one of the oldest of its kind in Vietnam.
Dating back to the Ly Dynasty (1009 – 1225), it was built under the order of
Queen Mother Y Lan in the 11th century.

Aside from worshipping Buddha, it is also dedicated to
the queen mother, who made great contributions to national governance and the
development of Buddhism during the Ly Dynasty.

The pagoda was destroyed during the resistance war against the
French, but restoration started in 1955. It was listed as a national
architectural – artistic relic site by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism in 1974.

Huong Lang Pagoda is one of the few Buddhist temples with
architectural and sculptural imprints of the Ly era in Vietnam, according to
the ministry’s Department of Cultural Heritage.

The unique objects from the Ly era stand out. Among them, two
are national treasures, namely a stone lion statue and a stone staircase dating
back to the late 11th – early 12th century.

The stone lion statue, made from bluestone and sandstone,
measures 280cm in length, 350cm in width, and 175cm in height. It comprises a
base, a body, and an upper part which is a lotus-shaped base supporting a
statue of Buddha.

The statue was made from many stone slabs assembled so tightly
that it looks like a single block. It is fully covered with sophisticatedly
carved patterns, giving the statue an elegant aura – a typical feature of the
art of sculpture in the Ly Dynasty.

Exploring two national treasures at Hung Yen Pagoda hinh anh 2Stone staircase (Photo: baohungyen)

The stone staircase system is also a priceless sculptural work.
Its six half walls, decorated with sophisticated patterns, divide the staircase
into five paths to the main Buddhist temple.

Though the staircase system was partly damaged, its
sophistication is proof of Huong Lang Pagoda’s size at the time it was built.

Experts said the stone lion statue and the stone staircase
reflect Ly-era arts, which are imposing but elegant and deeply imbued with the
wisdom of people and religious values at that time.

characteristic is an important basis for differentiating the arts of the Ly
Dynasty with those of following dynasties.

In addition, Huong Lang Pagoda is also home to many other
stone architectural works serving as important materials for researchers to study the arts
of architecture and sculpture a thousand years ago.

Thanks to its
special cultural, architectural, and historical values, the pagoda is now an
attractive destination for visitors from far and wide.

Apart from the
two national treasures at Huong Lang Pagoda, two other treasures of Hung Yen are being
preserved at local pagodas and one at the State Treasury branch in the

Hung Yen is
home to a large number of relic sites appreciated in terms of history,
architecture and fine arts.

The province boasts more than 1,802 relic sites and over 400
traditional festivals.

It is also the hometown of many national
heroes and men of culture, such as King Trieu Viet Vuong, who reigned from 548
– 571; Pham Ngu Lao, a general in the Tran Dynasty in the 14th century; Hoang
Hoa Tham, who led the Yen The Uprising against the French colonial forces between
1884 – 1913; and late General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen
Van Linh, who initiated the country’s Doi moi (Renewal) period./.


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Breathtaking Nha Trang seas



Nha Trang beach city in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa is home to many historical and cultural sites from the ancient Champa civilisation between the 4th and 13th centuries AD. Together with Ha Long Bay, it has been named among the most beautiful beaches in the world.


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