Five days ago I set what was only the second competition in this blog’s lifetime. Spot the broth wasn’t easy by any stretch of the most elastic of imaginations, but the response was tremendous. I spent the best part of the last two days wading through the emails, bribes and weeding out any suspected vote riggers. Finally we have a winner… well nearly. Lifegoeson got the dish right after first coming up with three possible culprits, but didn’t get the price or the location.
Stroll the perimeter of Ben Thanh market in District 1 and you’ll find a selection of street sellers and makeshift scoffshacks. I’m here to find a goi cuon seller I spotted a few weeks back, but it seems she’s split Saigon and in her place I find this bun rieu merchant. She tells me her river crabmeat, tofu, tomato and blood noodle soup is really very ngon (delicious) and not a little dac biet (special). She’s hardly likely to tell me it’s a heap of shit, but I like the look of her stall, clean, nice display of condiments, rustic bamboo effect and tourist wet dream conehead hat.
Take a delve inside her pot and things only get better. Check out that whalloping great hunk of minced crabmeat top left and the acres of fried tofu cubes in among that thick red slurpworthy swamp. I can’t afford the sniffablog add on tool here at noodlepie, but believe me when I say the fab stench emanating from this vat will blow your nose clean off As bun rieu goes this isn’t cheap – a staggering 8,000VD to be exact. The cheapest I’ve scored in Saigon is 3,000VD. 3-4,000VD seems to be the regular price around town.
However, my limited Vietnamese vocabulary and less than ropey listening ability tells me (I think) that what ratchets up the price at this deluxe dual basket pavement level outfit is some wee dried shrimp she adds to the broth which others commonly do not. Location could also have something to do with it. Downtown prices are often double the deal in the ‘burbs. But, this is killer bun rieu, not in the literal sense – it won’t actually kill you, but in the, "Yummo, that really is a jolly fine broth" kinda way. Highly recommended, this is top soup. Oh…and well done to lifegoeson. I’ll make the next competition a real toughie.