Inside Saigon’s 30-year-old noodles shop, a tasty dance of tomato, crab paste and blood pudding
The restaurant opens for six hours every day and usually serves 500 customers.
The Nguyen Thu Nga “bun rieu” restaurant, named after its owner, stands busy on Nguyen Huu Hao Street, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. Nga serves the popular southern soup which is rice vermicilli going with crab paste and pork knuckles in tomato-based broth.
“It was initially just a small business on the sidewalk in 1988. Then I changed the location and made it bigger in 2011,” said Nga, who does most of the cooking herself.
The customers enjoy their meal on a low, stainless steel dining table. “I want to keep the rustic vibe. To eat a delicious meal doesn’t mean you have to go to a high-end restaurant,” Nga said.
The kitchen is an open space therefore customers can see everything, including the huge boiling pot.
Nga prepares the ingredients from 7 a.m. The restaurant opens every day from noon until 6 p.m. “I often have to go to the market early to get fresh and quality ingredients,” she said.
Thin sliced Vietnamese pork sausage is part of the serving.
Nga sells about 500 bowls of the crab soup a day. The eye-catching bowl, with half a tomato and additional pig’s blood pudding and fried tofu, goes perfectly with a side dish of poached water spinach and mung bean sprouts.
This dish will not be the same without the strong flavor of fermented shrimp paste, a signature Vietnamese sauce. Each bowl costs VND50,000 ($2.18).