You don’t expect to see anyone ‘non-Vietnamese looking’ flogging food on the streets of Saigon, but that’s what I found at 7b Thi Sach in District 1 today. This mini stall, parked in front of a house, sells one dish only – Cari De (Goat Curry) – and is run by a couple of sisters whose relatives “a long time ago” came from India. They speak in Vietnamese, but know Urdu and a smidgen of English. They inherit their Indian looks, and endearing head wobble, although they adhere to strict Vietnamese fashion sense for females and deck themselves out in regulation pyjamas. There are a slew of Indian curry restaurants in Saigon, but this is the first time I’ve seen the dish sold as streetfood. The pot, just visible above, holds 4 kilos of curry or “enough for 100 customers” one of the sisters told me. She went on to say they serve 500 dishes a day which I find very difficult to believe, but I asked her three times to confirm the number and she repeated it three times. That’s a nice little earner for a small street stall with one miniscule table… 500? Hmmm??
The main dish comes with Com Ni (which I understood to mean Ghee-fried rice) and a side dish of spicy aubergine. The curry was decent and a lot better than most of the Indian restaurants in town which all tend to be sauce heavy with the meat cooked separately (At least that’s the way they taste and look to me). This pot had clearly been cooked in one batch. The goat, potatoes and sauce found mutual benefit from this method with bags of curry punch packed into each spoonful. That’s not to say it was one of those uncomfortably hot, chilli-drenched arse-shredders – it wasn’t. In comparison, the rice was bland. However, the aubergine was excellent and I didn’t sense any threat to my lower internals from this dish either. The sisters told me there’s plenty of passing trade who are happy to stump up 20,000VD for a takeaway. I saw two customers buying grub during my 30-minute lunch stop banter, but no signs of the feeding of the 500. That said – I’ll be back. Nice find.