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Close to the ocean and situated on a tiny island south of Vietnam, the sleepy town of Duong Dong comes alive at night thanks to the Dinh Cau Night Market. It’s a long widened pathway marked by sit-down communal tables and plastic chairs, where locals would go to take their loved ones for dinner. The shuffling of families and constant chatter gives the surroundings a buzzy, lively atmosphere. Smoke was wafting through the market, where crabs, sea urchin, conch (!), squid, and shrimp were grilled to culinary perfection. For a seafood lover such as myself, it was intoxicating walking through the market. Local cooks were pretty much grilling the same dishes, so it was difficult to decide where to sit and eat.
After walking aimlessly, we decide to sit at a random place and order our meal. We were fortunate and smart to have ordered the scallops. Sometimes a dish one has can leave such an indelible impression that it makes a person less inclined to ever try a similar-tasting dish again. This is due to the acute knowledge that a part of you will always feel perpetually disappointed. That’s how I feel about scallops. I love scallops. They’re soft little morsels of seafood goodness that don’t require you to take apart the shell or any bones. However, ever since I had the grilled scallops on Phu Quoc Island, I haven’t been as keen to try anymore.
The scallops were drizzled with light oil and garnished with crushed peanuts and green onions. It was such a simple dish, but the fresh quality, savory crunchy-textured taste, and the amazing deal made the experience memorable. I finished the scallops feeling immensely satisfied yet a little bittersweet knowing that it’s unlikely I’ll have something this good and cheap for a very long time.
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