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Cat Ba Island

Eat and meet

Cat Ba

Cat Ba is known for its seafood, and there are several places to eat along the harbour road that are also popular with locals. Most of them have tanks full of live seafood, and your best bet is forget about the menu and point at what you want. These places are good for crab, shrimp, squid, and clams, but if you're looking for fresh fish, and it's not in the tanks, its liable to be stored in the kitchen freezer -- it'll take forever to be thawed and cooked, and it'll arrive at the table disappointingly flavourless.

For more variety, head out to one of the floating restaurants on the harbour. Tuyet Beo Restaurant will pick you up at the pier and ferry you out to their restaurant for free (T: (09) 13 553 941). There are also some over in Ben Beo Harbour, but be aware that they are mostly closed in the off season.

Stories from tourists of being over-charged persist, which keeps many people away (you'd think these places would work out the math on that one, but they haven't yet). Still, it's a worthwhile experience, and if you work out prices in advance, and get your wallet ready for a bit of a splurge, you can enjoy a memorable feast of really fresh seafood--and you won't have to worry about them pulling something from the freezer back in the kitchen.

At first glance the obvious choice for western food is the restaurant in front of Noble House -- this place does indeed attract a lot of westerners, but many walk away disappointed by the food.

No problem for the folks at Noble House. Most of their customers are only there for one night. For truly delicious western food, great service, and a nice atmosphere, head to the Green Mango (T: (031) 887 151), on the harbour road, in an easterly direction towards the Holiday View Hotel.

For a drink, The Flightless Bird, on the western stretch of the harbour road, is a decent choice, but you can never go wrong heading for one of the bia hoi joints that set up along the promenade at night. Suds are usually 2,000 dong per glass, but the glasses get larger the further you head west towards the bridge.

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