We continue to carve our way through the street cuisine of Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in District 1 today. I just can’t seem to pass a stall by without poking my snout in to see what’s cooking. I spotted this seller a few weeks ago. I thought she was selling Bun mam. I checked out her goods and sure enough, her bumper mobile vat was brimfull with lovely, whiffy Bun mam. Mid Me da quaff the other day, I spy her wheeling her wares southbound on the one way (northbound) Nguyen Binh Khiem Street. Me da quaffed, I follow her scent and find the stall fired up and ready to go just south of the entrance to Saigon zoo. She tells me she sells at this spot between 11am and 2pm most days.
However, there’s no Bun mam today. Her vat’s bubbling with Canh bun. We’ve had this once before over at the food-mungus Ben Thanh market food hall. I’ll be honest and say I’m a bit miffed not to find her flogging god’s own soup today, but her Canh bun looks promising. She tells me I’m the first customer today. Well, I’m hungry. In the vat above there’s fried tofu, huyet (conjealed blood) and a huge hunk of minced river crab. She hacks a piece off the big lump for each serving. The noodles are heated in the small vat.
Then she adds the pre-cooked rau muong (morning glory) which you can see in the shot above. In go the condiments of your choice – minced red chilli and mam tom (Shrimp paste – Mr. Whiffy) are the main ones. I think the two other pots contain soy sauce and nuoc mam (fish sauce), but I didn’t check thoroughly enough, and the photo below is a bit crap, sorry.
She ladles in the broth, with blood and tofu, although she’ll leave the blood out if that’s not your thing. Lastly, she unravels a banana leaf to reveal a spamstick which she chucks in. That’s Canh bun.
It’s looks remarkably similar to Bun rieu. The tomatoes in a Bun rieu are replaced by rau muong in Canh bun . The bun is also thicker, but if you throw in all the condiments the two soups do taste kinda similar. Although Canh bun maybe isn’t quite as pungent as Bun rieu. This was very enjoyable, very filling and there was plenty of it. Costs 5,000VD and I recommend it if you’re in the ‘hood.
I know a lot of these stalls look like shit, but don’t let that put you off. Looks are very deceiving in Vietnam. Street food served from carts like this isn’t life threatening. It’s usually good, as in this case. And very often, it’s superb.