Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bourdain's Lunch Lady: Sunday Treat

Sunday morning hangover in Saigon. Minor, though. But major crave for Bourdain's Lunch Lady's soup. This modest taverna, which is even marked on Google Maps, is tucked away on a quiet alley on the border between district 1 and Binh Thanh, under a fabulous tree, probably a chestnut. Small shabby plastic table and chairs, roosters crowing their way among them, steamed bottles of Red Saigon for half a buck, and this wonderfully smiling lady who serves amazing pho. Woooohooo!

But is she really THE Lunch Lady? I don't think it's her. I saw this other lady fidgeting around the food cart. Well, it seems the Lunch Lady (Nguyen Thi Thanh by her real name) got herself an assistant. No problem at all - the pho was fabulous: flavored broth, thin pieces of pork, shrimp, chives, quail eggs, liver, bean sprouts, and two kinds of noodles. 15,000 VND per bowl.

The Lunch Lady's sister has a smaller food cart right next to her and sells equally famous (so I've heard) traditional fresh spring rolls, stuffed with pork and shrimp. Other street peddlers toss around the lunch place, trying to talk the patrons into buying desserts, steamed corn on the cob, sunglasses, or combs.

We caught a glimpse of the celeb noodle lady and tasted one of her dishes, but can't say been there, done that. We plan much more visits to her stall - at least to figure out what her current menu is, if not to stuff our faces with one of the most gorgeous soups we've ever had.

Lunch Lady's Noodle Cart - 23 Hoang Sa, District 1, every day from 11:30 to 13:30.

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