This is the kitchen of a no name Hu Tieu restaurant at the corner of 14 Ky Dong street in Saigon’s District 3. I’ve passed it many a time. I took the photo you can see above months ago, but today is the first time I’ve bothered pulling up a streetside stool for lunch. We’ve covered the pork noodle Hu Tieu soup before, most enjoyably here. It’s a southern soup, normally slightly sweet. This joint serves six variations on the basic theme. I’m dining here because it’s always packed at lunchtime. A good sign.
I order a Hu Tieu Mi for 9,000VD. Mi is a kinda noodle. Yellow, thin, cylindrical, firm and to my mind it’s the tastiest of all the noodles in Saigon. Here’s a closeup. This rendition comes with a separate small bowl of blanched beansprouts. In the soup you’ll find, tender, thin strips of boiled pork, spring onions, some minced pork and deep fried shallots. Here’s the construction bay. Dunno ’bout you, but that looks like fine stuff above.
Dining here puts you right on the street. The walls are grimey, peeling paint, ancient advertisements are stuck at odd angles, half hanging, half advertising. It has that thoroughly half arsed, "Sod the decor, let’s scoff" look about it. i.e. it’s my kinda place. Having said that, check out the quai breadsticks just visible in the snap above – covered in cellophane. Now there’s hygiene 🙂 This is good Hu Tieu. The meat is excellent as are the Mi. However, the stock’s not sweet enough. Hu Tieu should have a thin, but very noticeable trace of sugar coming through the stock. I’m not getting that here. Having said that, I am lovin’ it. The other difference with previous Hu Tieu is the condiment bowl pictured below.
If you’re an idiot, you’ll fumble around in here, add willy-nilly, enjoy your lunch, have a cuppa tea, go back to your office, sit down at your computer, rub your left eye and then scream agonisingly as your eye bleeds 900 degrees of chilli heat from its swollen socket. With the benefit of hindsight, albeit blind in one eye hindsight, it’s probably more sensible to wash your hands after lunch. Read the previous post for more on this distinctive southern Vietnamese noodle soup. This is a decent noodle joint. Worth trying. If you’re in the vicinity I also recommend you take the two minute stroll to this very good snail restaurant. Meanwhile, can anyone tell me what Xiu Mai means? It’s on the menu and I forgot to ask.