This is the first time I’ve eaten something new on Ben Thanh market for quite a while. I do have a misguided ambition to eat from every single stall here. However, if I’m to conquer the food hall I better get my skates on, my arse in gear and my stomach pins removed. There’s much work to be done. This is stall 1168. It serves Bun mang vit (Duck noodle soup) and this is the first time I’ve ever had it. I arrive just as they’re about to cook a fresh batch. I get the last bowl and watch as they prepare the next vat.
There’s a slab of chicken in there I swear. The soup is nothing much more than a pork stock and not as classy as a Banh canh at that. The duck is very tender and cut into mini-mouth morsels. The only real bit of mystery for me is the veggie at the top of the bowl. Dunno what that thing is, do you?
Bun mang vit comes with a side dish of banana flower, hedgerow and a sweet nuoc mam (fish sauce) dip. It’s not the most adventurous noodle soup on the block. In fact it’s pretty dull, if not totally overcast with thunder and lightning expected later.
The stallholder tells me it takes just one hour to rustle up a fresh batch. After hacking up a sheaf of spring onions and a quartered duck, she sets to work on the cooked pig’s stomach. This gets sliced into bitesized chunks before following everything else into the vat. I don’t get any stomach in my soup. I feel cheated.
A clenched right cheek to one side of the bun mang vit counter is stall 1170. She sells banh beo and she hogs one corner of the food hall. She’s massively popular.
Particularly with women. Shame I don’t really go a bundle on Banh beo.