Saigon noodle stall famed for three-decade crab infusion
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Well-seasoned noodle soup with crab meat at a Saigon shop has long enchanted locals despite its unusual price tag.
A food stall at 84 Dinh Tien Hoang Street in District 1 has been a popular address for crab dishes in Saigon for 27 years.
From outside, the small stall looks no different from many other common eateries across the city. However, the price for a bowl of crab noodle soup here is about three times higher than normal, at VND130,000 ($5.9).
Crab noodle soup and sauteed crab noodle at the shop at 84 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Vi Yen.
Owner Thuy said that for many generations, her family had sold crabs at the northern entrance to Ben Thanh Market, sourcing their products from Ca Mau and Long An provinces and Go Cong, a town in Tien Giang Province.
In 1994, she came up with a recipe for crab noodle soup, and started selling it on Dinh Tien Hoang Street.
Precooked broth, kept sizzling on the stove, is scooped into a bowl first before crab meat and glass noodle are added.
All foam needs to be removed before the dish is seasoned with green onion, cilantro, and pepper. The broth is sweet, rich and clear, with no grease. Crab meat is firm, glass noodle moderately soft, making for an appealing experience.
Sauteed crab noodle costs VND180,000 ($7.8) a plate, and is usually the first thing customers smell on entering the joint.
To ensure the glass noodle absorbs all the seasoning, the chef typically adds crab broth, meat and flavor-rich crab-roe to the pan.
The noodle is fried at a high heat until the broth is nearly dried out. Seasoned with a few stalks of cilantro, the noodle is soft without being sticky, with a subtle taste. Spices can be added based on preference.
In addition, crab spring rolls and deep-fried shelled crabs are also very popular among young children.
Crispy spring rolls are filled with crab meat, served with many types of vegetables like water spinach, lettuce, herbs and pickled papaya slices, which help reduce grease.