“Làng Bưởi” sounds nicely in Vietnamese, while “làng” means the village and it reminds me of the beautiful scenery in the countryside, with a lot of greens, with lazy river along the grass fields, the singing-in-the-wind bamboos trees at the entrance to the village…and “bưởi” – pomelo! Where I have been last week – not a village, nor a pomelo farm, it’s more like a huge countryside-style restaurant, 45′ drive from Saigon by car.
Pomelo is one of the healthiest fruits, if not the healthiest, I love the scent, the flavor, and I love when it’s juicy sweet. Pomelo is widely popular in Vietnam, not cheap, for some famous varieties, it could cost us a lot. To be honest, our visit to “Làng Bưởi” was too late when the pomelo season already at the end. We couldn’t have a chance to taste the best fruits. According to my friends, pomelos from this area can’t be compared with those famous pomelo brands in Mekong Delta like Năm Roi or Bưởi Da Xanh.
Pomelo is favorite by everyone, easy to get a fresh pomelo juice at some corners in town. Pomelo also has an important role in Vietnamese cuisine, not only as the healthy desert but as an ingredient for many traditional dishes, like “Three S” (!?) salad (sour, sweet and spicy), sweet soup, tea, wine…But probably nowhere in Saigon we could order all meals only made of pomelo, including drink tea or wine like here in this “village of Pomelo”
Here people don’t waste anything from this “apple-melon” (that’s how explain the name “pomelo”!) from the outer nicely-flavour-but-bitter green thick skin to the inner soft white skin…to its leaves!
The head of the village, the owner and the creator of Pomelo’s wine – Mr Năm Huệ. He was charming and nicely invited us to taste his famous wine from the pomelo-shape bottle. The wine was nice, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, quite aromatic with beautiful color!
The Pomelo white inner skin stirred with chicken’s liver, heart, intestines…
The next dish could be a surprise – chicken steamed inside Pomelo. We have this kind of steam inside the coconut, the gourd…but pomelo, it was our first time to taste it. It would take hours to steam, the whole pomelo was so soft, I even could smell the pomelo scent in the chicken meat, it was nice and the soup was slightly bitter, sweet!
It was a good lunch, I was asked to score what we enjoyed today from “the most favorite” to “the least “, it was hard but I would vote the best for the steamed chicken inside the pomelo due to its unique taste and long cooking process…
We didn’t order the famous “chè bưởi” – the sweet soup of the pomelo white inner skin, we prefer to taste the fresh fruit, but we were wrong, the fruit at the end of season was not good! Anyway it was a very nice meal in such a beautiful place, nice garden, river… we’ve been here during the weekday so it was not busy, all of us did enjoy the atmosphere in this village.
Làng Bưởi Năm Huệ, cù lao Tân Triều, xã Tân Bình, Huyện Vĩnh Cửu, Đồng Nai. Not far, only 8km, from Biên Hòa and another popular spot for tourists nearby – Bửu Long.