Continuing our mini-series from the local market, today finds us masticating at the meat stall. This seller flogs Bun thit nuong (Grilled meat and cold noodles) from an L-shaped table top stall dumped outside her front door and next to the Hot toc (hairdresser). A curtain of carcass smoke choking a trail across the upper section of the market is what first drew my attention to this stall. Of all the sellers down the local market she’s the friendliest. Although I’ll admit, she’s the one who does the nattering, I just frown confusion.
The nursery school seating helps make it a popular hang with the
street’s old lady mafia. A six foot tall honky isn’t exactly a snug fit
in these surroundings, but I try to blend in… As with probably every local stall at every local market in Vietnam, it’s not just the food that’s the draw, everyone’s here for a gas and a gossip. The mobile Xoi seller who plies her morning trade up and down this alley is a regular squatter here. I digress… on to the food. In the two-tiered glass case above, we have ‘the goods’. Top left is banana flower, next door some ready-wrapped rolls (more of which in a minute), then comes cooked, skewered pork meat kebabs and some very dainty cha gio. Sauces, condiments and debris and stored down below. Her ‘kitchen’ is a low level barbie she prods on her left hand side.
Above we have some fresh meat beginning their journey deep into the heart of char-town.
And these fine looking specimens are fresh outta the fire. I don’t know about you, but meat has rarely looked more tempting than that flagrant display above. Now, there are a couple of options ahead of you. You can make a rice paper roll filled with meat, lettuce, cucumber, basil, bun (cold vermicelli noodles) and banana flower. Or you can go for the full Bun thit nuong-monty i.e. same as a rice paper wrap, but more of it and whacked on a plate rather than rolled up, i.e. something like this. You can also skirt the meat (Why the hell you’d wanna do that, I don’t know…) and shove a cha gio in the rice paper instead and then add all the usual trimmings, wrap, dip and scoff.
On this visit I’m in snack mode and plump for a couple of meat-filled rolls and a paltry one cha gio. The dip is a nuoc mam (fish sauce) firey chili fiend. If you’re no vindaloo afficiando, approach this bowl with a degree of caution. This seller seems to fob off the ready-wrapped numbers in her glass cabinet to the mang di ve (takeaway) crowd. However, pull up a pew and she’ll make sure you get a pipin’ fresh slab of meat in your roll which she’ll also wrap up for you if, like me, your rolling technique is less than good. Her rolls are a herby, carnivorous hit, her cha gio a bit of a limp, cold miss. 8-10,000VD depending on what, and how much, you scoff.