Saigon baker 'ensnares' foodies with animalistic bread

 A bread stall in Saigon has attracted many curious clients thanks to its variety of animal-shaped offerings.

Each morning and afternoon for the past year, 37-year-old baker Phan Thanh Phuoc has sold bread shaped like crocodiles, crabs, frogs, and turtles in an alley off 123 Ho Hoc Lam Street, Binh Tan District.

A loaf of bread here usually costs from VND2,000 to VND30,000 ($1.3), depending on size and shape. Among the animal-shaped offerings, alligators and horses are the bestsellers. Phuoc said he keeps his price affordable since he mainly serves workers.

"I have been in the bread business for 20 years. Previously, I worked for many bakeries. I opened my own two years ago. In addition to ordinary bread, I bake animal-shaped bread, which are easier to sell," Phuoc said.

Alligator-shaped bread cost VND10,000 a piece, with giant, made-to-order versions priced at VND50,000.

menagerie of animal bread.

"I only make animal-shaped bread at noon when I have more time for molding. Alligator bread is still my bestseller,” Phuoc said.

Details are added to the alligator-shaped bread using a razor or scissors. On average, it takes four minutes to complete a small animal-shaped bread.

Phuoc uses a piece of cardboard to shape the alligator’s mouth and keep it open.

"The most difficult thing about making this bread is skillfully cutting the dough into imagined shapes,” Phuoc said.

After about 20 minutes in the oven, the bread is brushed with butter to bring out its shine.

Phuoc bakes about 1,500 loaves of regular bread and 70 loaves of animal-shaped bread each day.

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