With the trick of tying braids to keep the crunchiness and toughness of duck intestines, the strange and unique noodle dish of Phuong and her husband has sold out in 3 hours every morning for more than 20 years.
For 20 years, husband and wife Ngoc Phuong, 43, and Pham Tan Trung, 44, have been selling vermicelli with duck intestines in braids – a “unique” dish in Saigon.
Unlike traditional noodle soup, Phuong and her husband use mainly blood, meat and duck intestines with pigtails. The price of each bowl is only 25,000 VND.
The shop only has 6 stainless steel tables, but it is always full of customers. Ms. Phuong takes advantage of the sidewalk and an empty yard of about 60m2, opposite 944 Ta Quang Buu Street, District 8, of her family, so she saves space costs.
After buying duck intestines at the market, she washed them with salt. To keep the intestines from being fishy, she scraped off the dirt inside and washed the water several times. Each duck intestine is usually more than 50cm long, so as not to get tangled up when processing, she devised a way to tie it up like a braid. When tying very skillfully, if done too hard, the intestine will be cut. However, it must still be tight enough so that when boiled it does not burst. Duck intestines will be boiled separately so that the smell does not affect other ingredients.
“Unexpectedly with this form, my dish became unique, I have not seen the second restaurant in Saigon,” said the owner.
Every day, Phuong and her husband will get up at 4 am to prepare to go to the market, and choose to buy all the fresh ingredients. All recipes for seasoning and processing are done by one of her hands.
On average, with about 10kg of duck intestines, 5kg of gizzards, 30kg of vermicelli a day, she can cook more than 200 bowls and sell out in 3 hours in the morning from 6-9.
After preparing everything, around 6 o’clock, Ms. Phuong cleaned up the goods for sale. When customers come to buy, she cuts them into bite-sized pieces to make sure the duck intestines keep the taste and don’t dry out. This trick also makes the intestines more crispy. Dipping with ginger and chili fish sauce will stimulate the taste buds.
“People say that I sell too cheap, not much profit, but it takes a lot of work. But I think, even though the food is popular, it still has to look good. Customers looking at it clean and tidy also feel delicious. I can’t leave a single strand of intestines to sell, because it’s not so good looking that I don’t even want to eat it, let alone a guest,” Phuong said happily.
In addition to duck meat and intestines, the restaurant also has duck legs, head and neck… for guests to choose freely. Each additional dish costs from 5,000 to 10,000 VND. With many customers who can’t afford food or children’s meals, she will sell as much as she wants.
Recently, District 8 has had many duck noodle shops, but Phuong’s shop always attracts the most customers. In addition to regular customers, many young people from far away also come to try and share with friends on social networks.
For the past 20 years, the shop has almost only closed during Tet. But recently, Phuong had to close for two months because Trung was seriously ill. Now, he no longer helps the sister sell as before, instead, the sisters in the house help each other. Regular customers come to eat, and everyone is worried and inquires about the health status of the shop owner.
Mr. Phuc (58 years old, living in District 8), a regular customer of the restaurant for nearly 10 years, said: “Recently, Phuong’s husband was sick, so the shop stopped selling, several times I came here to buy but didn’t see it, thought it was discontinued. It’s a pity. The kids at home are used to eating this duck vermicelli noodle dish, but they usually refuse to eat it. Even though it’s vermicelli, the taste here is not like other shops.”
Keyword: The strange “braided” vermicelli noodle dish, sold out in only 3 hours