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Lunch Lady: Saigon's Noodle Soup Fairy

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April 20, 2014 / Vietnamese / By
Shiena Iane Bernardino

I am a self-confessed fan of Anthony Bourdain. If I can go to every city or eat at each restaurant that he had featured in his show No Reservations, I would. But that would be very time consuming, and very expensive.

So when I got the chance to travel to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I immediately looked for his Saigon episode online. I remembered during the first time that I saw that episode, he featured a street-side vendor who sells amazing noodle soup for lunch.

According to Bourdain, that stall sells the best noodle soup in the entire city. That stall was simply called Lunch Lady, mainly because of the amazing woman who cooks the noodle soup all by herself. Since it was just located beside the road, I have to rewatch that episode again to be able to find her.

I have to say, looking for the Lunch Lady was not an easy feat. The hotel personnel who I asked for directions have no idea who Lunch Lady is, and the other locals gave contradicting instructions on how to get to her stall. But I know that I have to get to her no matter what, so I just trust my instincts and gave a piece of paper to the cab driver and prayed hard so that I could find her before my flight back to Manila.

Despite all my silent pleas, the cab driver took a wrong turn and missed the street where the Lunch Lady was located. I wanted to ask him to talk to someone for directions, but the guy cannot speak English. I mustered all my strength not to cry because of frustration, and party because I am absolutely starving. Yet I decided to keep my cool since I don’t want to let my Vietnamese cab driver think that I am going nuts due to hunger.

So I just hopped out of the cab and decided to walk for a while and get some air before going back to the hotel, hungry and defeated. But lo and behold, a huge tarpaulin sign welcomed me as I took a turn around a quiet corner.

It was Lunch Lady!

I wanted to scream and jump up and down to express my joy when I saw the little stall in the corner of Hoang Sa Street. But of course, I have to keep my composure, or else they would think that a crazy tourist was on the loose. As much as I wanted to run towards the big cauldron of broth and beg the Lunch Lady to feed me, I decided to walk slowly and act like a prim-and-proper girl and not like a hungry monster that I was during that time.

Just by looking at the bowls of the other customers made me realize that all the troubles of getting there were definitely worth it. The Lunch Lady had been serving one type of noodle soup per day for years, that is why you can be assured that she have perfected each recipe. Everything was made from scratch. That alone could guarantee that you will be served with the freshest and most authentic Vietnamese noodle soup all the time.

During the day that I got there, the Lunch Lady was serving Bahn Cahn with fish cakes and meat balls. The noodles were thick and very hearty. The broth, oh the broth! It is to die for! I haven’t had anything like it before.

My quest to find the Lunch Lady was not easy, but it was definitely worth all the trouble. If I’ll get another chance to go to Ho Chi Minh City, I’ll definitely look for her again!   

   

N/A

Country: Vietnam

Province/State: Ho Chi Minh

City: N/A

Address: 23 Hoang Sa

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:N/A

Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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