When I lived in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, Vietnamese cooking was virtually non-existent, save the poor refugees living in the camps at the time. An international port city and hub for business and trade, Hong Kong has always been open to new ideas. From the tiniest joint to the oldest dim sum house to Pizza Hut and high tea, Hong Kong offers tons to eat. In the past 15 years, Vietnamese has been added to the menu.
Vietnamese Cookbooks in Chinese
Joel gave the following low-down on a few Vietnamese cookbooks written by Chinese authors:
The first book is Enjoy Vietnamese Cooking by Wilson Kwok ( ISBN 962-14-2580-8 ) published by Wan Li Publishings in October 2003. My impression is that it is much better than the HK cookbooks published in the 1980s and early 1990s. Kwok did studies on cookery in the West in the 1980s and 90s and returned to Hong Kong to start the Entrecote French steakhouse. His interests on Vietnamese cooking stemmed from his contact with Vietnamese immigrants when living in the West, and he cooked part time in some Vietnamese restaurants. For a time he also ran the Paris 13th Vietnamese restaurants in Hong Kong. The book's primary language in the anecdotes, cultural backgrounds, and history sections is Chinese but the recipes are also available in English. In addition, all recipes all contain Vietnamese names as well as names in English and Chinese.
The recipes listed are a summary of Vietnamese restaurants available in Hong Kong, documenting the early-days 1970s Vietnamese Chinese restaurant dishes, 1980s Cantonese-ized Vietnamese dishes, and 1990s French-style nouvelle Vietnamese cooking. The favourites which you listed like pho bo, banh cuon, cha gio are there. The red beancurd fried chicken is rendered in Vietnamese as ga quay simply, and it is listed as steaming the marinaded chicken for 15 minutes, add honey, dark soy sauce, and vinegar mix to the skin, hang for 4+ hours until dry, and then fry using the method I mentioned. They also have recipes like ca hap (steamed fish), thit de chien (fried goat), bo xao hat tieu den (beef with black peppercorns), tom xa (jumbo prawns with lemongrass), ga xe phay (chicken salad) yen nuoc dua (dried bird's nest in coconut milk) which are all popular dishes in HK's Vietnamese restaurants.
The second book is Street Food in Vietnam by Michelle Lo ( ISBN 962-14-3325-1 ) published by Wan Li Publishings in January 2007. Lo is Vietnamese Chinese who immigrated to Hong Kong at the late 1960s, and then to France. She returned to Hong Kong in 1996 and is now a teacher at the Towngas Cooking Center in Hong Kong. The whole book is bilingual and contains streetfood of Vietnam divided to Hanoi (North), Hue (Central), and Saigon (South) with almost every common Vietnamese street food you can think of is in the book (pho bo, banh mi ra-ku-bo, even the less commonly publicized recipes like banh beo, bun-bo-lao and banh-gio) alongside some actual photos of Vietnam's street food scene and intetesting notes of cooking in the three main regions.
[Update on 11/1/07: You can find Chinese-Vietnamese cookbooks at a well stocked Chinese bookstore. I just returned from New York, where I picked up Michelle Lo's book on street food (pictured here).]
There are many connections between Chinese and Vietnamese cooking, which is why if you're in a Chinese market, you can get most of the ingredients for preparing Vietnamese food. Of course, the same goes for being in Viet market. They're often run by business-minded Chinese-Vietnamese!
My friend Terrence Khuu, a professional Vietnamese-American chef, says that Viet Huong/Three Crab fish sauce is processed in Hong Kong. Lee Kum Kee and Koon Chun, both leading manufacturers of Asian condiments, turns out tons of hoisin and shrimp sauce for Vietnamese cooking. So we're buying lots of Chinese-made ingredients for Vietnamese fare. But the opposite is happening too!
Vietnamese restaurants in Hong Kong