Com Hen: Signature Dish of Hue
What is Com Hen?
Com Hen Island: Microcosmic Serendipity
Hoa Dong: Com Hen Restaurant on Con Hen
Situated halfway down the west side of Hen island is Hoa Dong restaurant. The owner, Mrs Hoa, serves hen and other Hue-related dishes at a budget price with all the condiments and trimmings. Ingredients are prepared in the back of the building then stored at the restaurant’s front counter where you can watch your meal being put together.
The đặc biệt (specialty) includes extra large clams for an extra 5,000VND. Other dishes on the menu are hen chao (hen porridge), hen xao (hen salad with cracker), banh beo chen (rice cake topped with prawn and pork rind), cha (fish and pork cakes), nem (cured meat), banh loc (shrimp and pork dumpling) and trung cut (quail eggs).
As always, there’s an assortment of soft drinks and Huda beer available. Most interestingly are two homemade drinks that are slightly harder to come by in Vietnam. Firstly, a personal favourite, Ruou Nep Hue, a sweet wine made from sticky rice. Low in percentage and includes some spongy sweet fermented rice. The perfect afternoon drink on a hot day. Another drink worth investigating is sua dau phong, which translates as peanut milk!
Mrs Hoa of Hoa Dong Restaurant
Consulting the Village Elder
After we left Hoa Dong restaurant, we darted down alleyways in search of a man called Duc, an octogenarian born and raised on the island. It took a lot of hunting but we eventually found Mr Duc taking his post-lunch nap. A lot of the information in the following paragraphs was what Mr Duc told us and while it seems sometimes conflicting, we interpreted our conversation with other resources in a vain attempt at accurate reporting. God save us.
The mythology of Com Hen Island
The History of Com Hen Island
Com Hen Island Today
The construction of the nearby Thao Long dam has deprived Con Hen of the brackish waters once used for clam farming. Nowadays, Com Hen Island imports it’s mussels from nearby fisheries. It is also the primary distributor for the city’s hen restaurants. However, the island’s restaurants keep to true to com hen’s original recipe. Chefs cook the rice early in the morning to imitate a ‘leftover’ texture. Local herbs and fruits dress the dish and continues to be affordable for everyone in the city.