Crispy Elephant Ear Fish on the Mekong River near Caibe

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Sometimes you find magic in the least expected places. Recently on an Asian cruise we hired a wonderful guide and a boat about 100 miles up the Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We entered the Mekong at the riverside town of Caibe (somestime writen as Cai Be). After spending the morning touring Caibe’s floating markets and on shore markets it was time for lunch. Bai Loc asked our boatman to pull up to a small dock on the river and we walked up to a riverside restaurant Xeo May. While unassuming, it turned out to be very special.

As we entered Xeo May  we were first struck by the fact that there we no other tourists in the room, only locals. It was very clean and utilitarian…wooden tables and wooden chairs and a beautiful view of the river. We were immediately greeted by the owner who told us Bai Loc had already order our meal and he hoped we would enjoy eating it as much as he and his staffed would enjoy fixing it for us.

Image our surprise when a Crispy Elephant Ear fish straight form the Mekong River appeared on our table. We were a bit trepidatious because we had just spent the morning on the River and let me tell you the water was not exactly the cleanest water we had ever been on…in fact it was a dirty shade of brown and had everything you could image floating in it. But we were the guests so we thought lets just “go for it”.

Wow! Delicious. Our five course lunch cost $5 each for a 5 course meal and that included the $1 each sodas we consumed.

The fish was scrapped from the bone and wrapped in very thin rice paper with a little cucumber and pineapple.

Next to follow were shrimp cocktails and a mysterious but wonderful pork dish with steamed rice straight from the paddy. The meal was finished off with mango and the whole experience was memorable. And no, there were no repercussions afterwards other than the pleasant feeling of total satisfaction.

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