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Famous Lunch Lady of Ho Chi Minh City 2022 · Anthony Bourdain's Hyperlocal Vietnam Food Corner

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For this foodie trip to Ho Chi Minh City, I left myself in the good hands of Aaron and family who know the city very well. So, when Aaron brought us to this little corner of old Saigon on a rainy afternoon, I didn't know what to expect, except that it's going to be another interesting hyperlocal experience.

Stall name: The Lunch Lady · Nguyen Thi Thanh


Address: Chung Cư, Lô D, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam


Tel: +849 3388 7922


Hours: 10:30am - 4:00pm



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Both the lunch hour peak and the rain had just passed when we arrived (yeah, we were here smack in the middle of the May - Nov rainy season in the Mekong Delta).

The residential neighbourhood was quiet and calm with a few food stalls humming away. It was still drizzling though the sun was peering out from between the leaves above.

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Friendly lady at the stall. We couldn't communicate much beyond smiling and waving but she made us feel very warmly welcome.


Fast forward to Singapore - it's only when I got back home and started to write this post that I realised that this was the famous Lunch Lady stall of Saigon featured in the late Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations series in 2009 (13 years ago). This stall like many such street hawkers in Vietnam had no name before and was known only to locals. It was Anthony Bourdain who dubbed it "Lunch Lady" and the stall is known to the world as such ever since.


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Back in Saigon, we settled in the little plastic tables and chairs shielded from the drizzle by a large leafy tree and colourful canvas.

The Lunch Lady stall weathered the Covid-19 pandemic though the tourists have not yet returned in numbers.

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Lunch Lady serves a different dish every day of the week. Today's was a rice noodle soup with shreds of pulled grilled chicken, blanched minced pork, pork slices, prawn, and quail egg. I don't know the name of this dish 😬 🤷

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I wasn't blown away, I wasn't supposed to be. It's a homely, comforting noodle soup with nicely balanced, familiar mildly sweet savoury flavours from fresh prawn, chicken, minced pork, sliced pork, quail egg with fried shallot, chopped spring onion, etc., lending their aromas. The Lunch Lady hand picks the ingredients every morning at the market so we can taste their uber freshness.

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A mound of soft-crunchy type of bee hoon (rice vermicelli) provided the carbs.

This is real food for real eating, not for bragging rights on social media. I am glad Lunch Lady remained that way despite her fame.

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Without knowing any background on the Lunch Lady, I fell in love with the quaintness of this quiet makan (eating) corner of old Saigon. There are a few other interesting little food stalls here for an authentic taste of Vietnam. Aaron said we will be coming back here to this section for one of the best pho in town tonight.

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Should you come here? You must if you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, or if hyperlocal cuisine and experience is your style of travelling.
                  


Written by Tony Boey on 23 July 2022


3 comments:

  1. I'm a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and always wanted to go eat where he's been. Thanks Tony Boey

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  2. The dish is available all over Souther Vietnam and is called "Hu Tiu Nam Vang " aka Phnom Penh Noodles. Allegedly introduced by the Teo Chews of Cambodia to this big swathe of Mekong Delta. Hu Tiu is the mee hoon like noodles & it always has an al dente bite to it. You can have either a wet or dry version and usually will come with quail eggs, minced pork, small piece of ribs, sliver of kidney or a bit of intestines etc Never ever had it with Chicken morsels though. If one were to reside at the hotels of the Mekong Delta in Can Tho City, My Tho City etc this Hu Tiu Nam Vang dish will usually be served for breakfast albeit with large pieces of dehydrated prawns ( Hae Bi )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for the insight :-) (from Tony)

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