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The most ‘speedy’ rice shop in Saigon: Order food at the counter, when guests come to the table, the food will be up

10 minutes after the sale, the Ba Ha rice shop was full of customers inside and out. However, guests who come here are still served within a ‘one note’ when ordering food at the counter, while sitting at the table, rice has just been brought.

Ms. Huynh Thi Ngoc Phuong (40 years old, the oldest child of Ms. Ha) is the current main salesman. PHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

Mrs. Huynh Thi Ha’s rice shop (72 years old, also known as Ba Ha) is located right in front of Hung Phu Street (District 8, Ho Chi Minh City) for over 50 years. 

Previously, she and her husband sold from 8:00 am to 7:00 am the next morning, now at an old age, Ms. Ha switched to selling in the afternoon and let her descendants succeed.Family restaurant, so everyone in the family has one job, the rice seller , the grilled rib, the cashier, the table runner, within 3 hours, sold out several hundred percent of rice with more than 50kg of grilled ribs.

Come to eat and then marry the mistress

Mr. Tran Cong Nghia (75 years old, her husband) said that decades before going to Saigon, he always stopped by Ba Ha’s restaurant to eat rice. For a while, he “liked” the owner and then went home to sell rice with his wife until now. He said, at first, each day only sold 1-2 pots of rice, sold from 20pm to 7am the next morning, so those who went to watch football late or came to eat called rice …

Big, thick ribs are marinated according to the private recipe of Mrs. Ha’s housePHOTO: LE NGOC THAO
Ten minutes after the sale, the Ba Ha rice shop was packed with people waitingPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

“At that time, there was a small stainless steel table in front of the house that had enough room for a plate of rib eye rolls for 1,500 VND per plate. She chopped up grilled ribs, I accepted the part to cook rice, run the table, but sold for decades to raise the children to school, ”said Mr. Nghia.There was a time when the restaurant was crowded, every night he had to cook nearly 20 rice pots from the sale until the new customers were finished. 

The charcoal oven only had 1-2 pieces, so he prewashed the rice to leave it there, one pot was cooked, then the other was put on a fire broth and stirred the rice.“By the twentieth pot, my hands fell apart, and the chopsticks fell down, unable to hold them. I was bare, in shorts, sitting in the charcoal oven, so sweat was flowing, the guests thought I was the employee, not the boss “, Nghia smiled back.

Within 3 hours, Ba Ha rice sold out a few hundred percent of rice with more than 50kg of grilled ribsPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO
The brothers in the house have one job each, the rice seller, the grilled rib, and the table runner to serve customers quicklyPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO
Currently, Ms. Ha has given up her main place to sell to her children and does only light workPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO
“The doctor told me not to travel much, but I also ran all the time, tired but happy. Every day off sale, I am even more tired and sad. When I come in, no one can talk, ”Mr. Nghia said with a smile

Last year, due to the influence of the Covid-19 translation, the grandparents had to spend tens of millions to maintain the shop, fortunately, the shop was also home, so his family supported the rent, and the situation was getting better in recent months.Mr. Nghia said: “As much interest as my wife earns, my wife will calculate it for her children and grandchildren in the house instead of going to other places to work as hired labor and the salary is low. Now my older daughter has also changed my wife to taste and cook everything, so she is also better off ”.Although currently the main restaurant is sold by descendants, grandparents are still not assured of “retirement”. 

Every afternoon, Mrs. Ba Ha went out to fry fish cakes while Mr. Nghia ran the table, cleaning up for her grandchildren when the customers were crowded.“The doctor told me not to travel much, but I also ran all the time, tired but happy. Every day of the sale, I am even more tired and sad. When I went in, there was no one to talk to. I have experience, so I have to follow them for whatever they do, they can’t miss it. If we miss a mistake, we will lose customers. Seeing the guests eating and unloading, I asked immediately, if I could see where they could not be, I would be happy to correct them if they finished eating them all. Sales must follow customers, ”said Mr. Think with a laugh.

Fast like lightning

When I arrived at Ba Ha rice shop as scheduled with Ms. Huynh Thi Ngoc Phuong (40 years old, her daughter), it was around 12 o’clock. The tables and chairs in the restaurant are neatly moved into a corner to have space to prepare ingredients. Each one of them, the person who cooks the rice, makes the fish cake, the person who makes pickles, mixes the skin, from time to time, the sisters chatter a few sentences to forget the hot heat.Phuong said that this restaurant consists of only family members, from parents, sister, sister-in-law and grandchildren, a total of nearly 8 people. Working hours are also clearly scheduled and “in order” for several years.

Ribs rice is priced at 40,000 VNDPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

Accordingly, every morning, Mr. Nghia gets up early to clean the shop. At 5 o’clock, his children began to go to the shop to prepare, the person who cooked the soup, the steamed rice ball, the person chopped the ribs with spices, and until 10 o’clock, everyone went home to rest.Near 12 noon, everyone went to the shop to do the rest. At that time, the three grandparents took advantage of the rest. At exactly 13:30 a.m., they would “change shifts” for their children and grandchildren to take a nap. 

Nearly 16 o’clock, Mr. Nghia and his children served up the rice. Ten minutes later, the table inside was already full of customers, the front door of the shop was also full of people waiting in line to buy.Ms. Phuong said that one sale, her family will cook about 50-60kg of rice, grill 40-50kg of ribs and fry more than 10kg of fish balls, sell the pot for nearly 19 hours.

Mr. Nguyen Huu Hien (61 years old, living in District 8) and his wife, after finishing their meal, turned to “eight” talking with Mrs. Ba Ha, who was sitting next to fried fish cakes. Mr. Hien recalls that in the past, he often saw Mr. Nghia cook rice from a charcoal oven, but broken rice must be cooked like that to be delicious, so he and his wife have been the “match” of the restaurant for decades.

Guests sit full at 17 o’clockPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO
Salted egg rolls is a “specialty” of Ba Ha rice shopPHOTO: LE NGOC THAO

Ms. Phan Thi Kim Huong (61 years old, wife of Mr. Hien) added: “My husband and I went to eat when we first met, now our older daughter is 26 years old. For decades, the rice is still delicious, the taste of grilled ribs has not changed, but the dishes are more and more “. Follow Thanh Nien Online

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