You need to try Saigon street food with The Lunch Lady

Saigon Street Food - The Lunch Lady

A different soup everyday. Meet Nguyen Thi Thanh, The Lunch Lady that got extremely popular due to Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. Every now and then she does something different from her “soup schedule”. Here is our attempted schedule of her soups updated March 2015!

Une soupe différente à chaque jours, voilà pourquoi la Lunch Lady est si populaire. Habituellement, chaque petit coin de bouffe de rue a un seul plat, c’est la spécialité de la place. Même plat, tout le long de l’année, année après année! Mais Nguyen Thi Thanh fait chaque soupe avec une grande attention. Voici le calendrier des plats qu’elle fait. Ça se peut que ça change. (Désolée c’est seulement en anglais pour l’instant!)

Monday Súp Thái, or commonly called Bún Thái. Like the name of the soup, you would figure that the broth is inspired by Thailand’s taste. It is like a tom yum goong soup, but let’s say she makes it less spicy than how the Thai loves it! It is eaten with the same thick and rounded rice noodles of the Bun Bun Hue, some beef, a few pieces squid, some fried fish balls and 3 pieces of shrimps.
Tuesday She mixes with Miến gà, Bún Mọc & Mì Quảng.Miến Gà – A bland soup in my opinion. Not the best meal Vietnam has come up with!Bún Mọc – A pork and mushroom based broth.Mì Quảng – A dish from Quảng Nam Province in central Vietnam. The rice noodles are tinted yellow with the use of turmeric. It is made with shrimp, pork,
Wednesday Mì Gà Tiềm – Not my favorite. This is a soup made with duck but she uses chicken instead (Gà means chicken!). For the noodles, it is the tiny yellow noodles commonly called as the egg noodles. The dish is accompanied by pieces of liver and bok choy.Sometimes she serves the Vietnamese Curry “Cà Ri Gà”, but I never tried it before!
Thursday Bún Mắm – A soup that I would consider hard to eat if you never ate much vietnamese food before! The first thing I always say to describe this soup is that it’s a fermented fish broth. It has a various mix of fruits and vegetables and mix. It’s with shrimp, vietnamese BBQ pork (thit heo quay), pineapple, eggplant, okra, chives and thick rice noodles.
Friday Bún Bò Huế – See my other article in which I explain the soup and show other locations where I like to enjoy a good bowl! Click here.
Saturday Bánh Canh – This is a soup also from where I come from, Hue, or I can simply say Central Vietnam. It is a crab-based broth, eaten with udon-like noodles (my mom makes each of the noodles by hand and I use to help her do it when I was young!), fish cakes, shallots and quail egg. She will add some Cha (Vietnamese meat) also! I love when there is some Giò Heo, which is pork knuckles.
Sunday Bún Thịt Nướng – My favorite vietnamese meal! It is rice vermicelli noodles with grilled pork, fresh basil and mint, salad and peanuts, and chả giò (fried spring rolls).Bún Riêu – She sometimes makes this one. I remember when mom said bún riêu was on the menu I always was like nooooo. Again, this is not my favorite. It is a meat rice vermicelli soup served with tomato broth and topped with crab or shrimp paste (purply color, you might not like it if you eat it for the first time!). There are some varieties of bún riêu, including the bún riêu cua (crab), bún riêu cá (fish), and bún riêu ốc (snails).

Friday's at The Lunch Lady
Friday's at The Lunch Lady
Friday's at The Lunch Lady
Friday's at The Lunch Lady
Friday's at The Lunch Lady
For side dishes, there is Goi Cuon (spring rolls) and Cha Gio (fried spring rolls). It’s her sister, Mai Thi Hoa, that has a small table next to hers rolling spring rolls with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and chives. To absolutely eat with the hoisin sauce added with peanuts and a little bit of chili. They usually charge 6-7k for each of them. For the record, Tra Da (ice tea) is 2,000 VNĐ!

La table sera bombardée de rouleaux impériaux et rouleaux de printemps. Ils les chargent 6,000-7,000 VNĐ. C’est genre jamais clair, l’autre fois on en a manger deux et ils ont arrondis à 15,000 VNĐ. Bon faut pas trop chialer à quelques milles prêts. Bref, c’est sa soeur qui fait les fait juste à côté. Ça vaut la peine, ils sont bons!

Friday's at The Lunch Lady

Friday's at The Lunch Lady

Friday's at The Lunch Lady


Bun Thai!

Friday's at The Lunch Lady

Watch Anthony Bourdain No Reservations Vietnam episode at 15:34 minutes when he starts talking about the famous Lunch Lady! I asked her if she had the banner “The Lunch Lady” before this show and she said that it was completely his idea. I don’t know who to believe now because Anthony says something else in the video. I guess we will never know!

Voici le vidéo d’Anthony Bourdain, qui est devenu célèbre grâce à son livre Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Il est aussi reconnu pour tous ces vidéos avec CNN et ses émissions télévisées. Dans sa série No Reservations, il réserve une épisode complète pour le Vietnam; c’est à 15:34 minutes qu’il parler de la Lunch Lady. Bon visionnement!

In this video, it used to be 75 cents a bowl, 13,000 VNĐ more than 5 years ago! Today it is 30,000 VNĐ for vietnamese and 40,000 VNĐ for foreigners, which is around 1.75 USD. Anthony explains that every morning before the sun rises, Nguyen Thi Thanh hops out of bed and rolls on her motorbike to Thi Nghe Market for some soup of the day ingredients! She then cooks her soups and an hour before noon, the broth is finally perfect, and a crowd of locals, tourists, bloggers and journalists fill up the little plastic stools quite fast to eat her delicious noodles. I’ve had days that her soup was “Ok”, but nonetheless, she is great!

Also if you’re around and still hungry, Phở Phượng next door is one of the best phở in Saigon at 45,000VNĐ

À l’époque, en 2008, le plat coûtait 13,000 VNĐ, ce qui est environ 75 cennes. Certes les temps ont changés, il y a l’inflation, l’augmentation de la clientèle, c’est maintenant 40,000 VNĐ. Elle charge 40,000 VNĐ aux étrangers et 30,000 VNĐ aux Vietnamiens. Quand on lui demande pourquoi la différence de prix, l’explication est que c’est la différence entre le petit bol et le grand bol. Certains disent que c’est un “scam”, mais sérieux c’est genre 50 cennes de différence, faut pas trop chialer! Le thé viet froid est à 2,000 VNĐ, habituellement le meilleur “drink” en accompagnement parce que c’est froid et ce n’est pas lourd!

Tạm biệt!

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