Dishing it out for 80 years: Congee on a shoulder pole

By Di Vy   June 14, 2018 | 07:29 am GMT+7

In the heart of District 1 in Saigon, a pork tripe congee stall has developed a loyal following spanning several generations. 

This seemingly ordinary restaurant has been serving for 80 years on Co Giang street. According to Ut, the restaurant was first opened by her grandmother. At that time, my grandmom sold congee on shoulder poles around Cau Muoi and Ong Lanh market. Later, my dad inherited the career, serving the dish on shoulder poles. Now I sell congee wherever I am allowed to.

This very ordinary looking eatery has been dishing it out for 80 years on Co Giang street and its vicinity. Amply built Ut says: “It was my grandma who started it, selling congee on shoulder poles around the Cau Muoi and Ong Lanh markets. Later, my dad inherited the business. Now I sell this congee wherever I am allowed to.” A bit of an exaggeration considering Ut operates out of a restaurant. The shoulder pole, though, is still in vogue.

The congee shoulder pole looks so special with a bowl-like pot and a tray full of pork tripe. When orders come up, Ut promtly places tripes into bowls. Before ladling the congee, she slightly stirs the pot to blend the broth and the rice together.

A huge stainless-steel pot stands tilted on one of the shoulder pole baskets. Beside it is a tray full of pork tripe. As soon as she receives an order, Ut places some tripe into a bowl; then, before ladling the congee, she slightly stirs the pot to blend the broth and the rice together.

Right next to the cooker is the tray with various pork organs: heart, liver, Vietnamese sausages, etc. just like other congee restaurants.

The tray with various pork organs: heart, liver, Vietnamese sausage, etc. 

The hot congee bowl is later complemented with ground pepper and laksa leaves before being served to customers. 

The bowl of hot congee, which turns brown with the addition of pork blood, is handed over after adding a dash of pepper and laksa leaves. 

The place serves quite a decent bowl, size-wise. Rice is fried prior to cooking, which allows it to swell without being crushed and retain its appetizing smell. A full serving is served at VND40.000 (1.8 USD).  If you are hesitant to taste any of the ingredient, just remind the owner to exclude it.

Raw rice is fried before it is made into a porridge, which allows the grains to swell without being crushed and retain its appetizing smell. A full bowl of pork tripe congee costs VND40,000 ($1.75).  If you are hesitant about any of the ingredients, just remind the owner to exclude it.

For the pig organs, Ut claims to only pick the fresh ingredients instead of frozen meat. The preparation process, from shopping for raw ingredients to cooking, starts at 1 a.m everyday.

Ut says she only picks fresh ingredients and uses no frozen meat to get the tripe. The preparation process, from shopping for raw ingredients to cooking the rice porridge, starts at 1 a.m everyday.

Waiters would ask if you want some quay (fried breadsticks). A serving costs VND 5000 (0.2 USD).Waiters will ask you if want some quay (deep fried breadsticks) along with the porridge. A serving costs VND5,000.

The restaurant serves extra bean sprouts for customers.First time coming to the place, Tran Quan (District 8, Ho Chi Minh city) said A friend of mine recommends this place. The taste is pretty bland, but the tripe is softly cooked and no smelly odor remains. Hai, a long-time customer, said that: I come here at least once a week. Now that I am used to the taste here, I can not eat elsewhere. 

Bean sprouts and a dash of lime add useful nutrients, texture and flavor to the dish.

A serving also includes a small bowl of sweet and sour fish sauce to complement the taste of organ meat. Spicy craves may add extra chili placed on the table. 

A serving also includes a small bowl of sweet and sour fish sauce. If you want it spicy, add extra chili slices placed on the table.  

The restaurant opens from 6 a.m to 2 p.m, usually most crowded in the early morning. Parking lots are available nearby. In the hot, stuffed space, customers enjoy the food on small decent tables. 

The restaurant is open from 6 a.m to 2 p.m, and is usually most crowded early in the morning. Parking lots nearby allow you to enjoy this delicious, filling hot bowl of pork tripe porridge at leisure. 

A first time customer, Tran Quan (District 8, Ho Chi Minh city): “A friend of mine recommended this place. The taste is pretty bland, but the tripe is softly cooked and no smelly odor remains.”

Hai, a long-time patron: “I come here at least once a week. Now that I am used to the taste here, I cannot eat this elsewhere.”

 
 
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