Recommended highly by friends and in online reviews, we were excited to head over to Bale Well (located down a back alley in central Hoi Ain, Vietnam) for a tasty Vietnamese lunch that consisted of Vietnamese rice paper wraps where special ingredients such as country pancakes, fried spring rolls, satay meat skewers, kimchi and vegetables were provided.
Well hidden down a back-alley, this gem of an eatery is popular with tourists and locals alike; however, like all hidden gems, it’s well worth taking the time to find. The restaurant itself receives the ultimate stamp of approval in my books for being equally as popular with locals as it is vacationing foreigners and expats.
The restaurant itself includes simple decor that includes cheap plastic chairs on flimsy metal tables allows you to strictly focus on the food at your table. As much as a enjoy eating in finer establishments, I often find restaurants with the most character are simple in design. Pets and or other charms or quirks only add to the experience.
Getting back on topic with the food, in order to make these rice rolls you first grab two layers to form the base where you load it up with fresh veggies, kimchi, spring rolls, skewered meat and country pancakes. Although I’m not always great with my hands, I didn’t have any trouble making the rolls after the careful and deliberate instructions for our gracious host.
The dipping sauce (which has a peanut consistency) makes each bite memorable. This kind of sweet peanut sauce is something I’ve had numerous times while eating Vietnamese rolls.
What really makes this restaurant stand out from the crowd is the friendly and quirky the service is from the owners and staff.
As an example, one of our servers came to our table and picked up a skewer that we full expected she’d use for one of our rolls; however, she quickly plopped it right into Audrey’s mouth; I don’t Audrey has been fed since she was a child 😉
When I was finished dinner she came back over with a wet napkin and wiped my face clean of food and sweat as some Korean diners giggled out loud. I didn’t quite know how to react so I just smiled and laughed our loud. It was an interesting experience I’ll never forget; I’m quite sure of that 😉
Our entire feast came to 180,000 (roughly $9 USD) for the two of us which was great value considering how many of these rolls we stuffed down our beaks.
Hopefully we’ll have time to come back again before we leave for Hanoi.