Western Vietnam’s unique ‘whining’ hotpot

This eye-catching dish is known for its decorative appearance


Islet hot pot (also known as breathing hot pot, or whining hot pot) is a famed dish in Vietnam’s western provinces. The dish gets its name from the special pot it’s cooked in, which has a chimney that whistles slightly while seemingly forming an island in the middle of the food.

In the past, the dish was commonly found in parties held by people in the south. Later, the hot pot dish became a local specialty, appearing on the menus of almost all western Vietnam’s restaurants and hotels. The ingredients for the dish depend very much on each locality or family’s preference. In An Giang and Dong Thap, people often put fish in the dish, whereas in Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Kien Giang, it is shrimp and fresh squid that are indispensable.

Western Vietnam's unique 'whining' hotpot
The “whining” hot pot also attracts diners with its eye-catching look and strange name. (Photo: TG&VN)
Western Vietnam's unique 'whining' hotpot
This hot pot dish has become a local specialty. (Photo: TG&VN)

Hot pots across various regions include typical ingredients such as pork liver or pork heart, chicken gizzard, grilled pork and meat roll. There are also typical vegetables such as cabbage, eggplant, carrot and white radish. When customers order the dish, the chef cleverly arranges layers of ingredients into the pot, then pours the broth all over.

Not only does it have a unique recipe, but a good islet hotpot needs to be cooked with coal made from mangrove trees because mangrove coal burns evenly, retaining heat for a long time while releasing little ash.

When the water boils, you can put all the ingredients in together. The dish’s aroma comes from the burnt coal, fresh ingredients and flowers, yes flowers, put into the pot.

Western Vietnam's unique 'whining' hotpot
You can enjoy whining hot pot a restaurant for a little over 10 U.S. dollars for 2-3 people. (Photo: TG&VN)
Western Vietnam's unique 'whining' hotpot
Islet hot pot served with different kinds of noodles, fried tofu and side vegetables. (Photo: TG&VN)

Islet hot pot is served with different kinds of noodles, fried tofu and side vegetables. Put the noodles and vegetables into the boiling hot pot, then quickly take them out of the bowl, then fill the bowl with broth, put a shrimp in and you have got a winning whining hot pot.