Meeting the Lunch Lady

Six months ago, I went to Ho Chi Minh for the weekend. Why only for the weekend? Well, I just moved to a new company and I’m saving up all my leaves for other trips. While waiting for my ex-officemates finish their Cuchi Tunnels tour, I met with another former colleague who is now based in HCM. Apart from meeting him, he told me we were also going to meet the Lunch Lady.

Who is the Lunch Lady? What I know is that she was featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode. Being the foodie that I am, I was excited to taste her dishes.

We got there via my friend’s scooter. Knowing Vietnam, the scooter or a motorcycle is one of the most popular means of transportation. Check Google Images using “Saigon” and pictures of streets filled with people in motorcycles are always in the top results. It was my first time to tour the city via a scooter, it was fun and scary at the same time. Actually one of my plans was to join XO Motorcycle Tours, good thing we didn’t book it, because this one’s for free!

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Lunch Lady’s place

Seeing the location, I wasn’t really expecting an individual menu, but at least find a list of all dishes that were served written somewhere. Turns out that the Lunch Lady only cooks what she feels like serving based on availability of ingredients. For that day here’s what we got:

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Shrimp Noodles with Quail Eggs, Vietnamese Spring Rolls

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Shrimp Noodles Up Close

From the looks of it, it already seems delicious – but it’s way tastier than it looks! The noodles are thick rice noodles (like our palabok noodles), the shrimps were huge and fresh, and the soup has a thick base like what is in Japanese ramen. It is not spicy, but the flavors are that of the typical Vietnamese cuisine, with flavors of lemongrass and coriander. Squeezing lime into the soup is optional. Chili is generously served for added kick. The spring rolls balance the rich taste of the noodle soup, with its fresh veggies and light vermicelli noodles. On the side, we were also served with Banh Quay, or Vietnamese fried bread stick. I had sugarcane juice as a drink.

I enjoyed the meal a lot! Although the place would not probably appeal that much to the less adventurous ones, the meal that one can get from this place is actually at par or even better than those served at more established restaurants. The best part? Everything only costed us VND 100,000 or roughly PHP 200 (~USD 5), for two people. 🙂

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Thumbs up to the Lunch Lady!

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Thanks buddy for bringing me here

There are several ways to get here, based on research it is near Saigon Zoo, but being a famous place already, just tell the cab driver “Lunch Lady”, and he’ll know where to go. The place would require some walking via smaller side streets, but not too far from Central HCM. A lot of useful results would appear when searched via Google.

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