Mekong Delta-style curry stall tickles Saigon taste buds
Mrs. Be’s food stall in Saigon attracts culinary buffs with its Mekong Delta-style curry dishes comprising sweet potato, taro and crunchy string beans.
At around 11 a.m. daily, 43-year-old owner Nguyen Thi Hoa can be spotted incessantly chopping up chicken and duck meat to feed the eager clientele, spilling out onto the sidewalk of her curry stall at No. 2 Tan Da Street, District 5.
The stall consumes about 30 chickens and ducks per day. Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the number had reached 50.
Customers can choose to eat curry with rice noodles or bread, with rice optional at lunch. A normal order costs VND50,000 ($2.2), including chicken or duck meat, steamed blood, sweet potato, taro, string beans, onion and a basil garnish. Special bowls cost VND60,000 with extra gizzards, eggs and liver.
Mrs. Be, Hoa’s mother, had sold Mekong Delta-style curry dishes across Chinatown for 20 years before recently opening a stall and passing the craft to her daughter.
Hoa said that in the past, she had spoilt six pots or 100 liters of curry, thus is now more vigilant of the process.
The curry here is cooked in creamy, not too sweet coconut milk. Notably, the stall uses fresh curry instead of powder to create its signature flavor.
Hoa said she ordered live chickens and ducks, not frozen, to ensure a sweet broth and tender meat. Besides curry, sweet potatoes, taro, string beans and onions all are essential to the dish.
Chicken and duck meat are marinated prior to being cooked, chopped up according to order. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi.
An Nhien from Binh Thanh District, trying the dish for the first time, said it was well-seasoned, but that the curry broth was a bit thin to eat with rice noodles.
“The curry cooked with sweet potatoes is glutinous, the beans are crunchy, quite strange. I have never tried it before,” she said.
The curry here is always steaming hot, whether at lunch or dinner, though to some, not spicy enough. Additional condiments typically include salt, chili, and kumquats.
The stall is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Located next to the main road, it is easy to find, and can accommodate up to 40 patrons at a time.
The curry is hot, creamy, not too sweet and fragrant. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi.