The hostess graciously found a table for one at the center of the packed restaurant. I ordered the chili lime shrimp, being careful to ask the price first, as I'd heard about bad experiences some people have had ordering "market rate" items on the menu. The price was reasonable, 96,000 Dong for 200 grams, or ~$5 US. I also ordered the banana flower salad and a so da chanh (soda water with fresh lime juice and sugar).
The young waiter brought out the ten giant prawns, lit the gas grill at the center of the table and oiled it with a bamboo brush. As I was watching him, I caught unexpected movement on the table top out the corner of my eye, you know, the sort that gives you the heebee jeebees, like when a roach crawls out from between the salt and pepper shakers waving its antennae. And this was antennae waving and legs wiggling, too.
**Warning: Turn down the audio before viewing. It was a very noisy restaurant.**
It's a little dark, but look close. Though they are already skewered on bamboo sticks, the prawns are still alive and kicking.
There's a reason they call crawfish mud bugs. And these are kissing cousins.
Not for the faint of heart. I did make the waiter put them on the grill while I closed my eyes and mouthed "Please stop moving! Please stop moving!" When they did, I bowed from the waist and, hands clasped together over my heart, I addressed my food. "Thank you for your lives."
They were delicious, dipped in a simple salt, pepper, lime juice sauce. Best shrimp I've had since...well, maybe ever.