Chinese ducks touch down in Vietnamese noodles

By Hoang Hoang   July 5, 2016 | 08:00 pm PT
'Quack quack': crispy goodness on a bed of noodles.

Soft juicy duck with fatty skin, chewy noodles and a hearty broth sound simple enough, but they are the key factors that make up ‘my vit tiem’ (stewed duck noodles), a foreign dish that has got Vietnamese gourmets from both north and south hooked.


Photo by Ngoisao/Mr. True

‘Tiem’ literally means stew, and has never been an easy or rushed method of preparing food in any culture. The carefully selected duck thighs are marinated in special in-house spices, then stewed with traditional herbs along with black mushrooms, fried and finally roasted. As it goes through these stages, the duck meat becomes soft and juicy inside but still fatty and crunchy on the outside. The stock from the stewing process is used to pour over the perfectly cooked homemade egg noodles, bean sprouts and cabbage before they are topped with the duck thigh and served to hungry stomachs.

The tender stewed duck meat is infused with herbs and spices to create a cheeky aroma. But the real succulent goodness lies beneath the crispy roasted skin. The eager customer picks up his spoon, takes a sip of the mysterious soup, and bites deep into the luscious meat: “Wow, I live for moments like this.”

Most restaurants that serve ‘my vit tiem’ are more often than not small and have a certain number of loyal customers who are in love with the secret family house recipes. Loyal customers don't mind traveling long distances to get to their favorite duck spots. Secret recipes are passed down through the family from one generation to the next, and it is the duty of the heir to maintain its authenticity. One of the oldest noodle shops that serves ‘my vit tiem’ in Saigon - Quang Hue Vien - has already gone through three generations of owners.


Photo by Ngoisao/Mr. True

In the north, ‘my vit tiem’ does not have as many fans due to the fact that not many Chinese families migrated to the region compared to Saigon and 'pho's' domination here. But it is slowly starting to get people’s attention. ‘My vit tiem’ has been adapted to northern tastes. Unlike in the south where the taste of spices, herbs and sometimes sweetness are key factors, northern foodies tend to go for natural scents and the original tastes of the ingredients.

Skipping the frying and roasting, the duck thigh is stewed only to reduce the amount of oil and fat and to maintain that ducky scent. Besides that, less herbs and spices are used to give the flavor of the meat a real chance to shine, resulting in a lighter broth. Bean sprouts and cabbage are replaced with scallions and bok choy, and instead of all the exciment that southern ‘my vit tiem’ brings, the northern version calms you down, like enjoying a Chinese chess match against an old sage while comtemplating the scene and hearing stories about his long life.

Where to enjoy ‘My Vit Tiem’ for lunch today:


Quang Hue Vien – 277 Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City

Hai Ky Noodle House – 349 Nguyen Trai , Ward 7, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City

Luong Ky Noodle House – 1 Huynh Man Dat, Ward 19, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City


Cho Lon Noodle House – 115 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi

Minh Ky Dimsum & Noodle House – 44A Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem Distrct, Hanoi

Com Vien – 11 Dinh Ngang, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

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