We used to order this. It was called 'lam rau' or something like that. Basically, it means 'five vegetables. On the far left you have okra. On the far right you have carrots. So far so good. At the 'bottom' of the plate is a sort of sweet potato (yellow) and the lighter color vegetable is a regular potato. Dip these vegetables in fish oil (yes, fish oil) and you're good to go.
What about vegetable number 'lam'?
It is quite possibly the worst thing we have eaten in Vietnam. And we've had some crazy things (cow tail, pig stomach, congealed blood, lots of sushi, seafood, etc).
Pronounced: coe kwah
I mean, it even looks terrible. Reminds me of King Nezzy from Veggie Tales. (Nezzy? The one from Daniel and the Bunny).
They can make it look not so terrible. Here it almost looks like little flowers.
It is a terrible tasting vegetable. It's worse than eating a banana peel. But, if you eat a banana peel, you're on your way to experiencing kho qua.
It's bitter. It sucks the moisture from you mouth. It has a lasting taste. It gives you terrible facial expressions.
Kho qua is translated as 'bitter melon'.
I said we used to order this. We really like the other vegetables on the plate, especially dipped in the fish oil (yup, fish oil). We learned the name of the horrible vegetable and the word for 'no'. So the next time we were at the restaurant, we ordered: "lam rau, khong kho qua" (five vegetables, no bitter melon)
Oh, should life be so easy!
We got double kho qua and they skipped the yummy, sweet potato.
If you ever get the chance to try kho qua, don't. Or do, but make sure someone is there to take your picture. And show me the picture.