Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

By Quynh Mai   January 8, 2024 | 07:37 pm PT
Craftsmanship, coconut rice paper production, and savoring lobster dishes define a 5-hour exploration of Song Cau Town, offering a glimpse into Phu Yen Province's cultural heritage and culinary traditions.
Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Phu Yen, about 547 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, is renowned for its unspoiled landscapes and stunning coastal roads.

Song Cau Town, established in 2009, claims the province's lengthiest coastline.

With scenic wonders like Xuan Dai Bay, Cu Mong Lagoon, and beaches such as Vinh Hoa, Bai Tram, Bai Bau, and Nhat Tu Son Island, Song Cau town beckons exploration.

27-year-old Do Quynh Mai from Hai Phong in northern Vietnam shared her experience through this story from a visit early last month.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Mai's journey began in Hoa Thanh Village, Xuan Canh Commune, where the centuries-old craft of creating mo o fishing tools took center stage. Mo o trees resembling bamboo but smaller, usually grow on mountains in Xuan Lanh and Da Loc Communes, Dong Xuan District, Phu Yen Province.

These baskets are not only used to catch seafood in Cu Mong Lagoon but also being sold to markets in coastal provinces from central to southern Vietnam.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Mai (L) explores the coconut rice paper-making domain of a family in Xuan Tho Commune. Crafting more than 600 handmade rice paper daily, this small establishment caters to traders in Phu Yen.

Phu Yen coconut rice paper holds its own as a local culinary specialty. In 2022, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism officially acknowledged the Phu Yen rice paper craft village as a national intangible heritage.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Made from pureed rice, coconut milk, and squeezed coconut meat, Phu Yen rice paper features a double-layered thickness. Once baked, the rice paper becomes crispy, with a golden-brown hue on both sides, offering the fragrance and flavor of coconut milk along with the sweetness of rice.

Visitors can buy rice paper and engage in the paper-making process at various locations, including Xuan Tho Commune, Song Cau Town, Hoa Da Village, An My Commune, Tuy An District, Dong Binh Village, Dong Binh Commune, and HoaAn Commune in Phu Hoa District.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Mai's last stop was Cu Mong Lagoon, also called Vung Moi in Xuan Loc Commune. Traversing from the north to the south, visitors encounter Cu Mong Pass, leading to the expanse of Cu Mong Lagoon.

Surrounded by the Cu Mong mountains, this lagoon marks the starting point of Phu Yen Province and is known for being the biggest place for farming lobsters, as well as other high-value seafood species such as seahorses and ark clams.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Here, Mai joined local fishermen in riding a basket boat and setting nets. After rowing the boat around to spread the net, the fishermen will use the rowing pole to hit the water surface to chase away fish that swim quickly, get caught in the net, and then collect the net. Types of fish that can be easily caught here are pompano, rabbitfish, bullet tuna, and grouper.

The fish are prepared and savored directly on the raft, either by grilling without spices or by cooking sour fish soup with la giang (river-leaf creeper), a plant of the central region, lending a natural acidity to the dish.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Cu Mong lagoon is more than a fishing spot. This is also where mussels and oysters are grown. People grow oysters in the lagoon using natural methods. The method involves creating bamboo platforms in the water, similar to raised flat surfaces. These structures are equipped with ropes. Oysters are introduced to these platforms, and as they grow, they attach themselves to the ropes. When it's time to collect them, they cut the ropes and pull the oysters up.

Visitors can try harvesting oysters in the middle of the lagoon. The freshly pulled oysters and mussels are steamed and enjoyed by diners at the raft house. After cooking, the oyster meat turns white, slightly sweet, juicy, and has the fresh taste of seafood.

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

And then there's the renowned lobster of Song Cau Town, hailed as the "lobster capital of Phu Yen Province."

Recognized in 2023 by the World Records Union for its lobster dishes, Song Cau Town takes pride in its modest-sized yet flavorful lobsters.

The lobsters in Song Cau Town are not too large, measuring around 20 to 30 centimeters in length and about 10 centimeters in width.

"The fresh lobster meat is firm and chewy. You have to chew it carefully, but as you do, you'll slowly experience the sweetness of the meat," Mai said.

Lobster is transformed into various dishes, including salads, rolls, soup, or just grilled (pictured).

Vietnam central town boasts world-renowned lobsters

Paul, a British tourist, said: "Even in daily activities, there are hidden long-standing cultural features, preserved by the people in a very natural and simple way."

He also praised the beautiful scenery, delicious yet affordable local cuisine, and the warm and hospitable nature of the people.

He was also impressed by the hotels in Song Cau Town, noting how they draw inspiration from Vietnamese culture, traditions, and architecture. He highlighted their environmentally friendly construction, creating a sense of "healing in the midst of nature."

go to top