If you google “Can Tho,” the city I’m currently visiting, you will find a Wiki Travel page that tells you about “Hot Pot Alley.” Despite the catchy name that smacks of a tourist trap, this place is apparently a well-kept secret. It really is an alley lined with a half dozen places that all specialize in hot pot dishes. The entrance is actually right across the street from our hotel, but you’d never know it – the sign just says “Alley 142.”
My cousin and I have visited twice now, sampling two different versions of the local specialty: hot pot with duck. The staff plunks down your own personal burner and a pot of broth full of hunks of duck, mushrooms, sweet potato, and uh, duck blood (I passed on the latter). Wait for the water to boil and add heaps of tofu, noodles and greens to your liking.
The heat of the weather did make me question the sanity of sitting with my face close to a boiling pot of water and an open flame. But it’s sort of a cleansing sweat, like going to a sauna.
Maybe it’s the off-season, but these back alley restaurants have a decidedly hole-in-the-wall feel, full of locals with not another tourist in sight. I’m not really helping to keep it a secret since I’ve been telling every other tourist I meet about it. I guess it feels good to think you’ve got the inside scoop on something and fun to share it with others.
I’ve learned that “dô” (pronounced “yo”) is slang for “cheers.” Definitely a must-learn vocab word for travel to any country!