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The ‘hidden alley’ restaurant in Saigon sells for exactly 3 hours, customers ‘want what they want

Each time Mrs. Lien’s noodle soup shop closes on Tet holiday, many customers will ‘wait’ to see when the shop will sell it to eat. Is there any secret that people have been ‘addicted’ to this mistress’s bowl of noodle soup for nearly 50 years?

The ‘hidden alley’ restaurant in Saigon sells for exactly 3 hours, customers ‘want what they want

Ms. Lien’s vermicelli shop is nearly 50 years old, from the time her mother was still carrying around selling rice vermicelli in the neighborhood.PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

Arriving at the shop of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lien (64 years old) one afternoon, we had to “cut” many alleys before we arrived. At 766/86/27/1 on Cach Mang Thang 8 Street (Ward 5, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City), her vermicelli restaurant “hides” in a small corner with only 2 tables and a few plastic chair. The owner takes a seat with all the ingredients in front of her, just reaching for a round of delicious vermicelli soup for guests.

Many guests coming early have a table to bowl with noodle soup, late guests sit on a chair and hold a bowl of vermicelli gobbled up, eating and talking to the owner. Asked out that all of her customers “intestines” for decades.

Noodle soup is priced at 20,000 VND at Mrs. Lien’s shop.PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

‘I have been eating noodles here since I followed my mother to the market’

Abundant, Mrs. Lien’s rice noodle soup has been sold for nearly 50 years, since the time when she was still selling, she sold rice noodles around the neighborhood. “My mother sold it for a long time, before liberating it, before my mother sold vermicelli. Until 1978, I sold, then switched to noodle soup. At that time, everyone had difficulties here, selling a bowl of vermicelli with a few pieces, people bought them mainly to eat soup with rice, ”she recalls.

A guest confided, she ate here from a young age when Mrs. Lien’s mother went shopping. “When I was a child, I followed my mother to the market, and I ate her family’s noodle soup, now I am nearly 60 years old, but not a few. Perhaps my time as a guest here is also close to my age. I am not tired of eating, but I find it familiar and familiar ”, this woman confided.

The shop only has 2 small tables and a few plastic chairs, and there are always customers looking for it.PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

Ms. Thuong Thuong (62 years old, living in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City) said that the day before, she lived in this area, after getting married to another place, but for a long time, she still came here to eat because she missed the taste of her childhood. “The same is the vermicelli, the soup, and the cha that I go to another place to eat not so good and does not taste like the day I ate. Sometimes when I crave too much, I eat 2 – 3 bowls at a time. During this Tet holiday, she closed the door, so I kept looking forward to eating and drinking when I opened the door, ”said Ms. Thuong with a smile.

Mrs. Lien inherited her mother’s career not only because the rice bowl supported the whole family, but also the effort and memory of the deceased mother.“When I was 18 or 20 years old, I started selling. Honestly, now that I think about it, if I don’t do this I don’t know what else to do. Each person is born with a job, a destiny my grandmother thinks this is the job for me, ”she said of the reason why she sold this dish until she had no energy to do.

The taste of noodle soup makes the childhood of many guests, but up to her time, there are also variations, a little change compared to the recipe of her mother. “At first, I had a lot of customers because people already knew my mother, but I always listen to suggestions on how to reduce the spices to suit the tastes of people here. This dish is cooked according to a North Korean recipe from my family out there. When I have perfected the recipe, I keep that flavor unchanged until now, ”added Ms. Lien.

Noodles helped her to support her family but was also full of memories with her deceased mother.PHOTO: CAO AN BIEN

“Afternoon most customers in Saigon”

When I went to Mrs. Lien’s shop, in addition to ordering a bowl of noodle soup, I also told her to give some vermicelli, some vegetables and remove some spices, thinking she would be upset because I was too messy but asked if this was “Usually in the alley”.

Meanwhile, a guest sitting next to me, who had just finished eating a bowl of vermicelli soup, asked the owner to add the rice cake with broth, no vegetables, no “topping”, until the bowl of vermicelli arrived but the guest asked for more ” a little “broth, too, the owner patiently took it back for more as desired. “That is why the hostess is here the most afternoon in Saigon,” said one of the guests.

Every day, her restaurant sells for 3 hours, about 60-70 bowls.PHOTO: CAO AN BIEN

Sharing the secret that many people could not give up her rice noodle soup for decades, Lien confided that just cooking with her heart, treating guests like family members will be loved and supported by customers. households. In particular, her vermicelli restaurant has stewed tomatoes with its own cooking secret, creating a characteristic flavor for the vermicelli soup unlike anywhere in Saigon.“The most favorite here is the broth and crab, very rich. Crab is real, not flavored, so it’s delicious. 

A large bowl of vermicelli soup with full ingredients, eating it to the mouth but the price of 20,000 VND is too good, ”Mr. Thanh (38 years old, living in Tan Binh District) said his feelings after he cleaned up the bowl of noodle soup.

Every day, this noodle shop only sells for 3 hours, from 14:00 to 17:00, never without visitors. Asked about this reason, she said that she currently does not have the health to sell all day.

The pot of soup, tomato baskets in stock make up the brand of noodle soup, Ms. Lien  .PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

“Every day selling about a few dozen bowls is enough to live. 20,000 VND per bowl is not too high, but I still have enough to eat and make profit. Before that I also sold for 15,000 VND, only increased for a few years ”, she laughed.The owner confided that he does not know if her descendants will inherit the family’s food or not, but now she still sells, still makes rice noodle soup dishes that package the childhood memories of many people …

Ms. Thuong Thuong (62 years old, living in District 11) eats here to remember her childhood taste.PHOTO: CAO AN BIEN
The owner said that she will continue to maintain this restaurant until there is no selling power any more.PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

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