Xôi gà (sticky rice with chicken and pork floss) sold at Phở Hà Restaurant on Hai Trieu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City / PHOTOS: GIANG VU
A one-way road connecting the boulevards Nguyen Hue and Ham Nghi, Hai Trieu is home to several late-night restaurants. The fair is tasty but light, just what most nighttime eaters are looking for after 11.
What distinguishes Hai Trieu from other night eatery neighborhoods is that many of these restaurants sell northern-style foods. Some Hanoians here even compare it to Cam Chi, a famous night eatery road in the capital city.
Phở Hà (Ha’s phở) is no exception. It sells many chicken dishes in culinary styles originating from Hanoi.
Lien, owner of the restaurant, said she and her husband emigrated from Hanoi in the 1980s, and opened a phở gà (chicken noodle soup) and xôi gà (sticky rice with chicken) shop, mainly targeting northerners who lived away from home.
However, gradually the foods gained the favor of southerners as well.
Compared to the popular phở bò (beef noodle soup), phở gà is lighter, in both meat and broth, thus more suitable for a light meal before sleep.
Lien said they stew chicken and pig bones from morning till afternoon to create sweetness for the broth.
Meanwhile, for xôi gà, glutinous rice is served with pieces of steamed chicken and chà bông (pork floss). The chicken is dipped in a mixture of salt, pepper powder and lime before it’s eaten.
This style is fresh and simpler than other restaurants that sell xôi gà in Saigon. One of the most famous sellers, for instance, Xôi gà Bùi Thị Xuân on the street of the same name in District 1, serves xôi with a giant piece of deep-fried chicken, and the toppings are fried onions and shredded spring onions fried in pork fat or cooking oil.
31 Hai Trieu Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Open hours: 4 p.m.–5 a.m. Prices: phở gà, xôi gà, miến gà (VND50,000)
Later Phở Hà’s owners added miến gà (glass noodle soup with chicken and strips of bamboo sprouts) and cháo gà (rice porridge with chicken) to the menu, and the dishes soon became popular as well.
Besides Hanoi-style dishes, the restaurant also sells xôi chiên chà bông (fried sticky rice topped with pork floss) that its owners claim to have created by themselves.
After being steamed, a thin layer of sticky rice is fried until it has one crispy side and another still glutinous. Then home-made pork floss is layered on the top of the rice.
To eat the food, people tear the sticky rice “pancake” into pieces and dip it into soy sauce.
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By Giang Vu, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the October 4th issue of our print edition Vietweek)