Mai Xuan Canh restaurant is the place for southerners to try northern chicken.
The eatery on Nguyen Du street in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 offers several northern chicken specialties that come in the form of salads, stir-fries, sticky rice and porridge. The grilled chicken hearts are also popular, but most especially and famously, its the Mien Ga, a mean chicken noodle soup, that gives the place its reputation.
Mai Xuan Canh has a view of the city's famous Notre Dame Cathedral across from shady Nguyen Du, which is kept a tad cooler and prettier by the tamarind tress lining the sidewalk.
Nostalgia is not lost here, with old green steel doors leftover by the French serving as the restaurant's main gate.
There are also some tables on the outside, a perfect place to catch the afternoon breeze beneath the trees and watch the city pass by.
Street hawkers sell snacks from baskets hanging from bamboo poles and a little fruit, boiled peanuts or quail eggs do not make bad appetizers.
MAI XUAN CANH RESTAURANT
57 Nguyen Du street, district 1, HCMC
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Besides the restaurant's featured grilled chicken dishes, chicken soups and salads are 10 kinds of different snail dishes.
The most popular dishes in the heat of the summer are Mien Ga, which runs from VND40,000 to VND70,000 depending on which part of the chicken they mix with the broth and thin clear cassava noodles.
Mien Ga always reminds me of Tet (Lunar New Year), when people get fed-up with pork dishes. A bowl of Mien Ga offers something light, fresh and healthy to keep warm during the cold spring days.
The dish has a delicious brown yellow soup with transparent grey Mien noodles. On top, the scents of brown-yellow shredded Mang Kho (young bamboo shoot) and spring onions mix with the unique fragrance of the herb Rau Mui.
As Mien is very fragile and small, the dish is served hot (if you leave it for too long the Mien will become too soft).
Around us people were having chicken legs and roasted chicken.
Mai Xuan Canh also serves grilled chicken skin (VND75,000), duck tongue (140,000-small dish and VND280,000-big dish), grilled chicken neck (VND25,000 for one neck) and chicken heart (VND50,000 for 10 hearts).