Oc Phat clam eatery in District 4

Nestled into the block at 2 Vinh Khanh in District 4, Oc Phat should be a destination for any fans of mollusks. With short, stainless steel tables and tiny red stools it is classic Vietnamese street food dining. Office workers, manual labourers, families, couples, old and young are all clinking glasses, dropping shells on the sidewalk, and knocking empty beer bottles around, all creating a cacophony of noise serving as the background for your meal. The menu is entirely in Vietnamese, so if you don’t know the lingo, you’ll have to rely on pictures that show you what you’re ordering, if not how it’s prepared.

 

You’re welcome to walk about and observe the open-air kitchen as your oc mong tay xao (razor clams) are sautéed to a tender, spicy perfection. To the uninitiated, razor clams don’t look like typical clams. They come in long, cylindrical shells. For VND50,000 per plate they’re well worth the try. Augment their taste by dipping them in the salt and chilli dipping sauce, or by making sure to coat them further in the spicy sauce in which they’re prepared.

 

Chem chep xao cay (spice sautéed mussels), which are a more traditional looking species of clam, provide manna for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Like everything on the menu, you can order them prepared in a variety of ways for VND40,000. The key to enjoying Oc Phat is experimenting with the menu. Along with that, it’s important to note that a plate isn’t intended to be a meal unto itself. Order several things with the intention of sharing.

 

One such exploration resulted in ngheu hap Thai, which is a large bowl of clams steamed in a Thai spicy ginger broth for VND45,000. This choice snaps with flavour and provides an excellent complement to the sautéed dishes. Local custom allows for one to use an empty shell to scoop and enjoy the broth, but no one will look at you sideways for spooning some into a small bowl to drink it. This is an especially welcome treat on those evenings when the rain puts a damp chill into the air.

 

Oc Phat is sure to become a regular stop for those that need a mollusk fix and don’t want to make a regular trip to the coast. Inexpensive and friendly, it will provide you with many enjoyable meals. And if you mix up your order it will keep you engaged.

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