Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour

By Di Vy   December 15, 2018 | 11:43 am GMT+7

A Saigon eatery that serves a single dish is so popular that people queue up to eat.

Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour

The popularity of Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen’s eatery for 40 years belies its simple looks.

It is in a small alley off Tran Ke Xuong Street, Phu Nhuan District, not far from downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Foodies come to the place mainly for a bowl of spicy noodle or vermicelli soup.

Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour - 1

The eatery is open from 11 a.m. to late evening. Customers fill up every space available at 1 p.m. People even queue up to wait for their turn to eat despite the scorching mid-day sun.

"We came here to have lunch," say Tien Thanh and Xuan Hoa, two customers. "We were prepared to wait, but we didn’t expect the place to be this crowded."

Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour - 2

Getting a seat does not end the wait. The queuing and waiting for the food could sometimes add up to an hour though the staff and cook are quick and serve many people at the same time.

"It’s normal for me to make 50 plates at the same time," says the owner.

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Why is a simple noodle dish so tasty? The answer lies in the harmonious combination of different ingredients, including ground beef, crunchy beef slices, ground shrimp, and egg.

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All cooking activities operate in a small space.The owner has a low table for her cooking utensils. The ingredients are simple, with the highlight being the fresh beef slices.

Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour - 5

Next to it is a bowl of ground beef. According to the owner, the meat is bought every day and so is always fresh. "Since there is already a recipe for the dish, the most important thing is to use fresh ingredients to make the dish delicious."

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The dish also has ground shrimp shaped in big meat balls. The cook poaches the raw shrimp balls when customers place orders.

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Spring onion, which gives it a lovely green colour, is the first ingredient to be placed in the bowl. 

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A pack of instant noodles is dunked in a pot of boiling broth. The price of a bowl is VND52,000 ($2.23). One can order for a larger bowl with two packs of noodles for VND60,000 ($2.57).

The owner explains that the price of each dish can vary depending on a customer’s order. "Whoever wants more quantity can order some more of each ingredient." Thus, a customized dish could contain more beef, eggs or shrimp.

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The dish originated in the southern province of Binh Dinh. The main ingredient is instant noodles, but customers who like a twist can order with vermicelli instead. The noodle strands are white, smooth and considered big compared to normal rice noodles.

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The poached eggs showcase the talent of the cook. The eggs are poached quickly, but they are always well cooked and intact.

"This is my first time," says Xuan Hoa. "It is a bit tiring to wait, but this is very attractive; I will definitely come here again."

Be patient, your bowl of noodles will come in an hour - 11

The restaurant serves a variety of beverages at affordable prices. Sugarcane juice and centella juice are the most popular, and cost VND15,000 ($0.64) a glass.

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The restaurant is a legacy passed down to Huyen by her mother. It was one of the first spicy noodle eateries to open. It has now become well-known as a purveyor of Saigonese cuisine.

 The restaurant has moved several times, but patron foodies always find a way back to it.

 
 
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