The seafood restaurants of Nha Trang line the main drag, Tran Phu St, among hotels big and small, starred and starless. A mere fifty or so metres from the shore-breakers of Vietnam's most renowned beach, these eating houses are close to the source.
A fifteen minute scooter ride around the coast, away from the hum of the town traffic and the neon blur of the night scape, the seafood places continue to dot the beach road. At night, the fluoro lights of the squid fishing boats float on the horizon. Palm fronds waver.
And I scoff...
...large crustaceans which had been tip-toeing across the glass bottom of their tank but 15 minutes before. As I wait for them to cool down and stop staring at me with those beady black eyes, the waitress squeezes my lemon wedge into a ramekin of salt and pepper. This is the best treatment for these simply steamed prawns - no heavy sauces required. After offing their heads, legs and jackets, I dip them and pop them in my mouth, poo-tube and all!
The produce lured by last night's squid expedition is brought to table next. This squid is not delicate little calamari rings dusted in flour but rather the whole creature deep fried and cleavered. The tentacles end up being deliciously crunchy while the pieces of sack are meaty yet not chewy. The simple dipping sauce is mixed at the table with a chopstick: mayonnaise and ut toung (red chili sauce). I'm addicted to this simple combination and my annual excursion to Nha Trang is not complete without it.
The exquisite prawn salad above rounds out the main dishes of our order.
And here I am, a month later, dribbling at the memory, wishing I could pull a lever and transport myself there right now.
Squid x 2, prawns, prawn salad, green salad, rice crackers, several beers - 350,000VND (USD$22.10, AUD$23.50)
Bien Tien Hai San
ride 3km north out Tran Phu St
( it's on the left )