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80 years old Chinese Shacha sauce noodle soup in Saigon

The satay noodle dish at Ms. Doanh's restaurant is cooked using an heirloom recipe, with a combination of more than 30 ingredients.

To Ky noodle shop is located on the front of Gia Phu Street, District 6, founded by Mr. To Cam, who is from Trieu Chau in the 1940s, passed down through three generations, nearly 80 years for now. The current owner is Ms. To My Doanh, 42 years old, granddaughter of Mr. Cam. She was handed down the profession early by her father and has been cooking noodles for more than 20 years.

The signature of the restaurant is beef shacha noodle soup, which requires elaborate processing. Every morning, Ms. Doanh wakes up at 5am, receives goods from her acquaintances and then conducts preliminary processing. "Cooking this dish is hard and extremely difficult. I can't handle it alone so I need my family’s support," she said. Each person in the house has a job from cleaning vegetables, cutting meat, and making dipping sauces.

What makes the satay noodle soup special is the thick, brown broth and it is the combination of more than 30 different ingredients and spices such as peanuts, chili, galangal, onions, lemongrass, garlic, Chinese vinegar, dried shrimp, Chinese herbs. As a result, a rich, spicy flavor that stimulates the taste buds is created and coconut milk is added to increase the fatty fragrant of the dish.

When a customer orders, the owner will pre cook the beef and noodle soup, add spices and then pour the broth. A full bowl costs 72,000 VND including beef, beef balls, served with basil, bean sprouts, lettuce, coriander and cucumber. Shacha noodles can be eaten with two types of sauces: soy sauce and vinegar. According to Ms. Doanh, this way of eating was invented by her grandfather, because other restaurants only use soy sauce.

"The sauces are handmade. Vinegar is cooked by the Tieu people’s recipe. Soy sauce is homemade soy sauce," she said.

To Ky opens from 11am to 7pm every day. Around 5 p.m is the busiest time because it's the time people get off work, many people come to have dinner or take away. There are many customers from Phu Nhuan, Binh Thanh, and Tan Binh.

"Sometimes, when it's about to close, regular customers call and say they're coming and tell me to wait a bit. I do wait for them, so sometimes it takes until 8pm to close the restaurant. But I appreciated it, because people are from far away but they still come to support me," said Ms. Doanh

Standing at the shop for 20 years, the owner of the To Ky shop believes that the business must come from the heart, ignoring the immediate benefits, so that it can create sympathy and keep customers for a long time. Ms. Doanh's wish is to maintain the family's traditional satay noodle soup, which will later be passed on to her descendants, contributing to the preservation of Chinese cuisine in Saigon.

Phung Thi Ngoc Han, 20 years old, first came to the restaurant on the recommendation of a friend, expressing her interest in the new noodle dish. "The broth is fatty, rich and fragrant with a very strange taste of Northern medicine. Fresh meat, both soft and chewy, tastes better when dipped with sweet and sour vinegar. I will definitely come back again."

Besides Ms. Doanh's restaurant, diners can also enjoy shacha noodle soup opened by Ms. Doanh's relatives, located respectively on Go Cong Street (District 5), Chu Van An (District 6) and Pham Van Chi (District 6). All four shops own the heirloom recipe from Mr. To Cam, but depending on the taste of each person, there will be a little difference in flavor.

Source: VnExpress

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