Song Xanh, Seafood & Restaurant, Doung Dong (Dương Đông), Puh Qouc (Phú Quốc), Vietnam
As recently described Doung Dong (https://avdwineandfood.net/2016/01/14/song-nu-restaurant-duong-dong/) is the largest town at Southern Vietnamese Island Phu Qouc.
Usually there are three options of restaurants at this upcoming touristic hot spot:
a) Places only for tourists with some rather universal offer of Vietnamese cuisine – mostly fish – but (!) you won’t believe it: portioned! It is one of the most pleasant aspects of Asian cuisine that many different dishes can be ordered and will be shared. Only in the Western world we have prepare individual plate per guests. For whatever questionable reasons you get your “own” plate – dish by dish – in selected restaurants within the areas of resorts, bungalows and hotels – and even sometimes already without sticks but fork and knife. b) You have real Vietnamese food places, inns and restaurants. They life from inhabitants and some rare courage tourists – I recently described one of those (see link above) and last but not least c) the few “topper” restaurants where you can find some organized groups of tourists, functionaries and officials and us (so people looking for good food).
As there is a night food market – a touristic attraction – really impressive in respect to seafood but questionable quality of preparation – going to a restaurant like “Song Xanh” is more interesting, less expensive and certainly taste wise much more enjoyable. Nicely located at the river you can sit on different terraces. You make your selection of seafood and fresh fishes directly at the entrance – just by mood – or you go through the menu which offers some poor and probably not reliable translations in English, Russian and an even German. We came to find real local specialties of Phu Quoc: Vietnames sushi and shark!
It is probably forbidden in many countries as turtles and other animals. But out of 500 sorts of sharks this one (and I don’t know the exact name of it) seems to exist quiet a lot as I haven’t read anything in particular about this fish; I haven’t seen any warnings since in some parts of Vietnam the authorities try to execute prohibition and protection of animals pretty serious.
Let us leave any moral dispute on the side for a moment: shark is not any easy dish. Since shark hasn’t any kidneys any poison “left overs” of everything sharks are eating are exalirated through their skin. I guess they eat a lot! The only way not to poison yourself is that the fish need to be boiled / long steamed. Such a fish must be fresh! In particular at an Island as Phu Quoc where it is pretty warm still at night. I have no idea how fasten decomposition effects the quality and in particular health risks – considering that locals have for sure a different stomach culture. Walking over the fish market in the morning some strong stomach can be helpful.
Being curious we ordered another local specialty: being a Central European you could say “Vietnamese Matjes / pickled herring” – it is a small local fish of wish I don’t know the name unfortunately. Fishermen’s wife’s cut of the head and split the fish into two slices and sort them in some boxes while fish market. And to be correct it is rather a kind of “Vietnamese Sushi” than pickled herring.
Later at the restaurant this “Vietnamese sushi” will be beautifully served on a plate added with rather sweet onions and fresh grass. I liked it pretty much also it is a bit strange that the fish isn’t really cold or iced. The fish is rich and surprisingly filling.
One of the best combination I ever experienced by the way was respelled coconut with this raw fish.
Even the “sushi” wasn’t alive anymore at “Song Xanh” you usually select still living animals which guarantees that your food is in real fresh. Here is our shark!
Shark will be prepared in two way: the main part of the body will be boiled / steamed for quite long. The fish meats turns into an interesting pretty rare consistence: a bit like butter, soft and tender, fad and impressively intensive in regard to a unique taste. Most comparable perhaps with a dogfish – which is besides related to shark too. To be straight forward, the amazing size of our portion was much too much. But if we would have had some smaller portions I guess it would have been even a better experiences.
The additions to the dish were as almost obligatory – wonderful water spinach with a lot of garlic and rice.
The second dish is a kind of hotpot made out of vegetables, the tail and head of the shark – typically Vietnamese! You should not have doubts or hesitation while you eat this having the entire head and all its pieces in the pot. Actually it was very tasty due to all ingredients.
My conclusion is pretty easy: if you like to taste shark – and I recommend it – take only a fresh one! As more people as better as the portion even of a smaller fish is huge.
We had beer along this menu. There are perhaps some wines but very probably only a small number lousy Australian chardonnays.
Altogether the visit of the restaurant “Song Xanh” became very special and unforgettable experience. In meanwhile I returned once again and it was again a really good experience. Because of this I gave six points. The food is exotic, pure, and strange in some ways and real uncompromising cuisine of Phu Quoc. From the concept it could be comparable with Berlin Nobelhardt & Schmutzig (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/09/18/nobelhart-schmutzig-restaurant-berlin/): real regional (although rise needs to be imported to Phu Quoc). If there would be now a real chef and not only some cooks (sorry for this), I guess once could create something extraordinary, but this part of the world isn’t yet conquered by Michelin Star. By the way, eating at “Song Xanh” isn’t too cheap!
The address of the restaurant is 30 Tháng 4, Dương Đông, tp. Phú Quốc, tỉnh Kiên Giang, Vietnam. There is no webpage.