The waiter set down two plates in front of us. One was Sichuan Beef. One was a seafood stir fry.
We had just arrived to our AirBnB 20 minutes earlier. One bite of my meal and I had to sit back in disbelief. This one bite held more flavor than I had ever experienced. It was as if my palate had laid dormant for 30 years of my life, as if my tongue had been living a half life. And suddenly, they were awoken. I was confused, overwhelmed, inundated with emotions that all flowed forth in a single tear that slowly slid down my cheek.
It felt corny. Sitting in a Vietnamese cafe crying… because of tasty noodles. But it didn’t change the fact that I was completely disarmed. Great food had stripped me of everything.
Up a back staircase of building B, in a crowded apartment building that surrounded a motorbike parking lot, sat an unassuming gem of a restaurant named Loft Cafe. Two young servers, named Hong and Tom, gave us a masterpiece of a meal.
It didn’t make sense. This was only day one, I thought. I’m not going to be able to handle this trip. And yet, in that moment, the only way I could express myself was in the local language.
“Toi Ruh Fuey”, Tom helped me to say. Which translates…
I am happy.